Rebuilding Livelihoods in Iraq

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In 2014, faced with the harrowing threat of ISIS control over Mosul in Iraq, Silvio Adeeb and his family, like countless others, made the heart-wrenching decision to leave their hometown of Qaraqosh, just south of Mosul, and moved to the city of Erbil.

"My experience in Erbil was harsh, especially in the early days of displacement,” Silvio says. “It was profoundly saddening to be far from my home and my community, akin to losing a cherished part of oneself."

Iraq shop owner serves customer

Silvio Adeeb works in his shop in his hometown of Quaraqosh, Iraq. Through the Shared Future project, he was able to purchase more equipment and expand his business. Photo by Baraa Abosh/CRS

For three years in Erbil, Silvio dedicated himself to his studies while also opening a small shop. But the harsh realities of a competitive market led to its eventual closure.

Then in 2018, Silvio returned to Qaraqosh with a renewed determination. Having completed his studies, he had hopes of opening a business in his hometown. To transform this hope into reality, Silvio needed financial support. So he enrolled in Shared Future, a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by Catholic Relief Services, the Iraqi Alamal association and the Almahaba Brotherhood humanitarian organization. The Shared Future project supports young people as they launch small businesses. It also fosters trust among diverse ethnic and religious groups in the Niveveh Plains of Iraq.

In May 2022, Silvio attended a three-week foundations training, immersing himself in emotional intelligence, resilience, conflict resolution, communication and leadership skills.

"I've refined my interactions with people, learning to empathize and respect differing opinions,” Silvio says.

Buoyed by the success of the training, he enrolled in a 13-week livelihoods technical training. Here, he honed his skills in business planning, customer service, marketing, budgeting, and basic information, communications and technology proficiency.

"The budgeting session was invaluable,” Silvio says. “It taught me to price products effectively and manage my finances wisely."

In August 2022, with a $1,500 grant from Shared Future, Silvio invested in cell phones, internet transmitters and receivers. These investments helped him double his income. Today, Silvio specializes in installing camera systems, fire alert systems, formatting and setting up computer systems, and cell phone repair.

For Silvio, owning a thriving business is more than financial success—it is a profound connection to his hometown.

"Many times, I contemplated leaving for a foreign land,” Silvio says. “But now, I have a business that supports my family and me in times of need. I feel rooted in something."

By reinvesting his earnings, Silvio plans to diversify his shop with more tools and products, setting his sights on offering laptops in the future. He is committed to supporting other young entrepreneurs, so he offers internship opportunities, nurturing talent to one day grow into independent business owners.

"In the future, I hope to live in peace in my homeland, and that we never face a repeat of the events of 2014,” Silvio says. “I yearn for stable employment and a dignified life befitting any human being, without the necessity of leaving my country, for home is like a mother's embrace, inseparable from oneself."


Shared Future Project

Shared Future is a seven-year project supporting communities that have returned to Iraq after years of displacement. The project focuses on repairing trust among ethnic and religious groups and supporting young people to earn income in Iraq. The project is funded by USAID and implemented by Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Iraq, and the Iraqi Al-Amal Association.