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Church-supported nursing training center opens in Iraq’s Kurdistan region

Church of Jesus Christ helps transform vision into reality with new training center for nurses and midwives in the Kurdistan region of Iraq

A donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped create a new training center for nurses and midwives in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The Nursing and Midwifery Development Centre  will allow as many as 7,000 nurses and midwives a year to be instructed in a variety of courses, reported the Church’s Middle East Newsroom. Classrooms can hold 20 to 100 students, and a conference training room offers space for 300 people.

The building — spanning three stories and 36,000 square feet — had an opening ceremony on Jan. 21 in the city of Erbil in northern Iraq.

Guests arrive at the newly-built Nursing and Midwifery Development Center in Erbil, Kurdistan.
Guests arrive at the newly-built Nursing and Midwifery Development Centre in Erbil, Kurdistan region, Iraq, on January 21, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Roland J. Bäck, Area Seventy and second counselor in the Middle East/Africa North Area presidency, said at the ceremony: “It’s so great to see something that you remember being discussed in its early stages now being completed. What a blessing this facility is for the people of Kurdistan.”

Eva Said, the center’s director, wanted to find ways to train nurses and midwives to better help newborns survive. She had originally hoped to establish a training room in a local hospital. She and other nursing teachers designed a facility together “just for fun,” never thinking they might receive any support to build it.

“But that vision of a different, better reality has inspired us and made us look for ways to make it happen,” she said. “Thanks to the amazing generosity of Latter-day Saints, that humble vision has come true.”

During the opening ceremony, Boyce Fitzgerald, the Church’s Middle East/Africa North Area director of temporal affairs, addressed the audience.

“Helping others is what makes us human,” he said. “I have been to Kurdistan many times and have always been impressed by its people. We want to be helpful to the local community. We want to positively impact the lives of mothers and children. This is why after this project was presented to us the Church supported it. We felt this would save lives, create jobs and improve training. When we work together, we create a better future for everyone.”

A large room of people sitting on chairs for the opening ceremony of the Nursing and Midwifery Development Centre in Kurdistan.
Guests attend the opening ceremony of the Nursing and Midwifery Development Centre in Erbil, Kurdistan region, Iraq, on Jan. 21, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The news release says most training at the center will focus on better birthing procedures, including help with newborns’ breathing, infant and mother care, infection-control training and injectable-medication training.

Michele Calderon, chairperson of the center’s board, said she hoped that through the training center great things will be brought to pass.

“We are deeply grateful for the generous support of the Church and appreciate our partnership to build the [center].”

Six people view details in room at the Nursing and Midwifery Development Centre in Erbil, Kurdistan.
Eva Said, director of the Nursing and Midwifery Development Centre, guides a tour for guests through the new facility in Erbil, Kurdistan region, Iraq, on Jan. 21, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
People in formal and business attire prepare to cut the ribbon of the new Nursing and Midwifery Development Centre in Kurdistan.
Guests attend the opening ceremony of the Nursing and Midwifery Development Centre in Erbil, Kurdistan region, Iraq, on Jan. 21, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Church officials stand in front of the Nursing and Midwifery Development Centre in Erbil, Kurdistan.
Elder Roland J. Bäck, Area Seventy and second counselor in the Church’s Middle East/Africa North Area presidency, left; Boyce Fitzgerald, the Middle East/Africa North Area director of temporal affairs, center; and his wife, Sandra Fitzgerald, pose in front of the Nursing and Midwifery Development Centre in Erbil, Kurdistan region, Iraq, on Jan. 21, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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