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Kurdistan group visits Church headquarters, recognizes Church efforts in Middle East

The Church works with the Barzani Charity Foundation to improve lives in the Kurdistan region of Iraq

Representatives from the Barzani Charity Foundation visited Church headquarters in Salt Lake City this month and met with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The foundation — a nongovernmental, nonpolitical, nonprofit organization founded in 2005 — has worked with the Church on a variety of projects in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

These projects have included renovating schools, providing wheelchairs for disabled Kurdistani people and drilling boreholes to help farmers access more water. Additional projects are planned to help people who have suffered war, earthquakes and economic deprivation, according to a news release from the Church’s Middle East Newsroom.

During the Aug. 7-8 visit in Salt Lake City, the three Barzani Charity Foundation members toured the Church’s Humanitarian Center and Welfare Square. They also learned more about the Church’s efforts around the world to care for those in need.

Representatives of the Barzani Charity Foundation from Kurdistan put together hygiene kits at the Church’s Humanitarian Center.
Representatives of the Barzani Charity Foundation from Kurdistan put together hygiene kits at the Church’s Humanitarian Center during a visit on Aug. 7, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Masrour Barzani, the head of the board of founders, said the things they learned from the Church will have a positive impact on the work of the foundation. 

“Our visit to Utah is very significant for our humanitarian work back home in Kurdistan region of Iraq,” Barzani said. “We come here to bring a gratitude of Kurdish people, Kurdistan leadership and refugees who sought protection in our region to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ leadership and millions of followers who are the backbone of humanitarian work.”

The leaders met with Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Anthony D. Perkins, General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Middle East/Africa North Area.

Elder Bednar told the group, “I wish that every citizen in every part of the world could see all that you do for humanity. You are servants and mentors to so many.”

Elder Bednar also shared with them how the Church’s humanitarian efforts are motivated by a love for Jesus Christ and a love for others, the report stated. 

Representatives from the Barzani Charity Foundation visit with Church leaders in Salt Lake City.
Representatives from the Barzani Charity Foundation in the Kurdistan region of Iraq visit with Church leaders in Salt Lake City, Aug. 8, 2023. From left to right: Elder Anthony D. Perkins, Karzan Noori Othman, Elder David A. Bednar, Musa Ahmed Agha, Elder Patrick Kearon and Awat Mustafa. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Six Latter-day Saint couples who had previously volunteered for the Church in Kurdistan were able to meet with the group as well and told them how they loved their time in Kurdistan and felt warmly welcomed by those working for the Barzani Charity Foundation. 

The group also met with the Church’s director of humanitarian services, Sharon Eubank.

Karsan Noori from the Barzani Charity Foundation said the visit to Utah was an eye-opening experience for him — and one that will benefit the lives of vulnerable people in the future.

“As a result, I will always be grateful for the support of the Latter-day Saints and the valuable lessons we’ve gained from them,” he said. “I hope we can continue working together for an extended period, further expanding our collaborative efforts to benefit more vulnerable individuals. My only regret is not having been here earlier.”

Church’s humanitarian efforts in Kurdistan highlighted at Jordan women’s conference

Sharon Eubank meets Princess Taghrid Muhammad in Amman, Jordan.
Dr. Aghadir Jeweihan, right, director of the Princess Taghrid Institute, introduces Sharon Eubank, the Church’s director of humanitarian services, and Stacey Knight, far left, the Church’s humanitarian program manager for the Middle East region, to Princess Taghrid Muhammad, left, in Amman, Jordan, July 14, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Last month, the Church took part in the East West and Africa Women Initiatives Forum in Amman, Jordan, where the Church’s humanitarian efforts in the Kurdistan region were a focus in addition to other work in the Middle East and North Africa.

Stacey Knight, humanitarian program manager for the Middle East region, represented the Church at a panel dedicated to the empowerment of women.

“One of the Church’s projects in Kurdistan is the Nursing Midwifery and Development Center,” Knight said. “This project is a collaborative effort between the government and community partners and will save many lives in a region that is working hard to improve its health care. This type of project exemplifies the impact of women in the world and in humanitarian work.”

Sister Eubank gave the keynote address at the conference on July 15. She explained that a sacred commitment to global humanitarian relief is woven into the fabric of the Church.

The Church has a long history of helping those in need, Sister Eubank said. “Latter-day Saints believe that all people are children of a loving God and we have an obligation to help each other.”

Sharon Eubank talks about the Church’s commitment to global relief and development at the East West and Africa Women Initiatives Forum.
Sharon Eubank, the Church’s director of humanitarian services, talks about the Church’s commitment to global relief and development at the East West and Africa Women Initiatives Forum in Amman, Jordan, July 15, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“We don’t do the work so that people will join our Church or to draw attention to ourselves, but — in this time of increasing polarity and divisiveness — our aim is to be kind, show God’s love by our actions, and strengthen social unity through shared experiences,” Sister Eubank said during her remarks, highlighting the Church’s focus on unity amid religious, political and ethnic differences.

According to a news release from the Church’s Middle East Newsroom, Sister Eubank signed memorandums of understanding with several Jordanian government organizations, including the Ministry of Health and Jordanian Royal Medical Services. These partnerships aim to expand the Church’s neonatal resuscitation training program and wheelchair projects.

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