Hygiene kits and Dignity Baskets

Written on December 14, 2016, by

IARP has been grateful to partner with the Critical Needs Support Foundation (CNSF) on a Humanitarian Project for Peace to bring hygiene kits and sanitation products to IDP’s in Iraq. The recent kits were for the people of Mosul who have fled from IS (Daesh). The CNSF team are working tirelessly on the ground to identify and respond to those in need.

The most recent distribution consisted of:

  • 68 hygiene kits in Al Haj Ali Village, south of Mosul, Ninewa Province

  • 60 hygiene kits in Hamam Al Alil, south of Mosul near Al Qayyarah, Ninewa Province

  • 270 Dignity Baskets in Alkhazer Camp, for displaced Iraqis feeling from Mosul (this distribution was funded in part by IARP and other humanitarian organizations).


The Dignity Baskets contained feminine hygiene products. The Hygiene Kits distributed in the villages each contained:

  • 1x towel

  • 5x toothbrush

  • 1x toothpaste

  • 1x shampoo

  • 1x body-wash

  • 1x baby shampoo

  • 1x lice shampoo

  • 1x q-tip

  • 1x feminine hygiene kit

  • 1x sponge pack for dish-washing

  • 1x dish-washing liquid

  • 1x plastic box

Here is a note from our partners at CNSF:

“Again, we thank you so much for your incredible support. You have helped us reduce risks to people’s health in a very simple but effective way. Disease can spread quickly, making an already difficult situation even more so. Most importantly, you are helping us protect their dignity.”

Our Iraq Premiere

Written on November 28, 2016, by

Thank you to EVERYONE for making the premiere of OUR IRAQ a success!

OUR IRAQ is the 14th film in the Iraqi Voices series. A team of 10 local Iraqis created this film with Nathan Fisher and IARP.  OUR IRAQ begins with a sweeping overview of thousands of years of ethnic and religious coexistence in the cradle of civilization. The film then dismantles caricatures of Iraqis and Muslims in the United States — an Iraqi-American sculptor rebuilds what extremists have destroyed, Muslims pray at a Catholic church in Minneapolis, refugees own a St. Paul neighborhood grocery, and a public school administrator becomes the first Muslim woman to win an election in Minnesota.

This event was organized in collaboration with the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. It is part of their year-long series of public programming, “Global Minnesota: Immigrants Past and Present”, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Iraqi Voices 2016 Premiere Oct 29

Written on September 22, 2016, by

Join us for the premiere of a documentary film written and directed by Twin-Cities based Iraqi refugees and Iraqi-Americans, followed by a discussion with Joseph Farag, Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature and Culture (UMN), and filmmakers. Reception to follow.

Iraqi Voices is a collaborative arts lab which gives Twin Cities-based Iraqis an artistic platform to share their stories. The new half-hour documentary in the Iraqi Voices series dismantles caricatures of Iraqis and Muslims in the United States ”” Muslims pray at a Catholic church in Minneapolis, refugees own a St. Paul neighborhood grocery, and a public school administrator becomes the first Muslim woman to win an election in Minnesota. The films are photographed and edited by Nathan Fisher and produced by the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project.

This event is organized in collaboration with the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. It is part of their year-long series of public programming, “Global Minnesota: Immigrants Past and Present”ť, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Event is free, suggested donation $10

October 29th, at 2:00pm
Landmark Center,
F.K. Weyerhaeuser Auditorium
75 5th St, St Paul, MN 55102

Iraqi Voices is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

This event is co-sponsored by the The Advocates for Human Rights.

Iraqi Voices at Mizna Arab Film Festival Oct 1!

Written on September 22, 2016, by

Excited as ever to be a part of this year’s Mizna Arab Film Festival!

Iraqi Shorts and Iraqi Voices at the Mizna Arab Film Festival on October 1 @ 1:00pm. The 2015 films will be screened as well as a sneak peak of our 2016 film. Q&A with filmmakers after screening. Come out and show your support for Iraqi filmmakers!

Learn more here.




Friends, fellowship, and fried kebbabs

Written on July 28, 2016, by

It’s friendship via food- even better, via fried food. This past Sunday five American women and six Iraqi women came together in the kitchen to cook, eat, and form relationships. Our Iraqi friends taught us how to make delicious fried kebabs and laid out a full spread of vegetable toppings and Iraqi bread. And while the meal was delectable, the company was even better. Despite the language barrier, we discussed food, our differing marriage traditions, memories from Iraq, and our experiences raising a family, going to school, and managing a career. When it was time to go all of the participants exchanged phone numbers and a hope that the dinner would turn into a monthly event.


If you are interested in hosting or attending an Iraqi cooking class in the Twin Cities contact us at jessy@reconciliationproject.org

Also, check out the recipes we learned below!

Lamb and Ground Beef Fried Kebabs20160724_154142

1 kilo ground beef
1/2 kilo ground lamb

1 handful of each chopped:
onion (finely chopped)
green pepper

Approximately 1- 1 1/2 cups flour

Two teaspoons of each:
black pepper

salt to taste

Using your hands, thoroughly mix all ingredients. Dip hands in water to keep meat from sticking . Form into patties, logs or balls.

Add lots of oil to pan. Heat it up and when the oil bubbles, put the meat in.

Fry 1-2 minutes per side, or until each side gets brown or as well done as like.

Serve with vegetables and herbs such as: spring onions, sliced onions marinated in sumac, mint, cilantro, parsley, Iraqi pickles (see below!), green peppers, tomatoes!

Wrap in Iraqi bread and enjoy!

Iraqi Pickles

pickling cucumbers
white vinegar
garlic cloves, crushed
kosher salt
ground coriander
curry powder

Put your cucumbers into sterilized mason jars. In a pot, boil white vinegar, garlic cloves, salt, sugar, and other spices. Use about 1 cup vinegar, Ľ cup salt, and Ľ teaspoon sugar per 1 pound of cucumbers.

Feel free to experiment with different spice combinations/quantities, and different kinds of vegetables! You can also stuff your cucumbers with garlic, parsley, onion, and other spices.

Pour the boiled brine over the cucumbers until the jars are full. Seal the jars.

Once the pickles change color they will be ready to eat- this will take approximately one week.



Iraq at the Festival of Nations 2016

Written on May 19, 2016, by

Festival of Nations recap by IARP intern Jackie Myer.

As visitors entered the exhibit area, they to the festival were drawn to the beautiful blue replica of the Gate of Ishtar, the former eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. The gate was originally constructed in 575 BC by the order of King Nebuchadnezzar II, and was considered to be one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. The other side of the exhibit was decorated with a replica of shanasheel, an element of traditional Arab architecture. The projecting windows frequently used in houses and palaces to provide privacy are typically made from wood lattice, and the design attracted attention from visitors to the Festival who wanted to know more about the origins of the design. As visitors walked inside, they were able to see beautiful carpets and pillows, multiple tea sets, and various other decorations from local Iraqis. Children in particular were attracted to the large blue gate, and were often lined up outside the entrance waiting to get inside to receive a stamp in their passport and their name written in Arabic.

It was enjoyable to work at the exhibit with local Iraqis and listen to them tell stories and answer questions from children about Iraq, as well as laughing with them as I made (frequent) mistakes while attempting to speak Arabic. The Iraqis were eager to share the side of Iraq that is not usually portrayed on the news. When asked what they knew about Iraq, most children responded by saying, “there’s a war there, right?” but typically did not know anything else about the country. At the exhibit, we were able to teach them about Iraqi culture, typical foods in Iraq, and the Arabic language, as well as explaining the rich history of Iraq, which was often prompted by questions about the Gate of Ishtar. As people increasingly only hear about Iraq in the context of conflict, this opportunity to share the other side of Iraq with the community was invaluable and I hope that it opened their eyes to a richer, more complicated picture of Iraq than what they hear on the news.


A recap: Iraqi Voices 2015 Premiere

Written on January 8, 2016, by

On December 7th 2015, 140 community members came to Macalester College’s Ruth Stricker Dayton Student Center to view three new films in our Iraqi Voices series.

The films highlight the anti-corruption protests and demands for basic services occurring weekly in cities across Iraq, along with the dangers that middle-class Iraqi professionals continue to face as they attempt to rebuild their country. The directors included video footage of thousands marching in both Najaf and Baghdad each Friday, displaying a passion for justice and the yearning to reclaim Iraq for its people.

The directors and filmmakers answered questions both on the panel discussion following the films and afterwards at an informal reception. The Iraqi filmmakers gave audience members perspectives and facts we do not get from our American media.

Students, older activists, workers, parents and young children, Iraqis and a variety of other Minnesotans came to hear the culmination of Iraqi Voices III, the third year of documentary filmmaking by local Iraqis under the mentorship of Nathan Fisher, professional documentary filmmaker. These documentary shorts will be available on our website soon.

Films from Iraqi Voices I and II are online here.

Opportunities to support the development of the Iraqi Voices Program:

If you attended the premiere event, we would love your feedback to help improve the Iraqi Voices events in the future. Please click here to participate in a quick online feedback survey.

If you are interested in viewing the 2015 videos online and providing feedback for evaluation purposes, please contact jessy@reconciliationproject.org


Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015 Photo by Zane Spang © 2015

Connecting over food: Our first Cooking Class

Written on December 21, 2015, by

In November, eight women gathered for IARP’s first Iraqi cooking class. Many of us were meeting for the first time, but there seemed to be an instant sense of camaraderie, connecting over food and reconciliation. Our Iraqi cook, Azhar, was a gracious teacher and a wonderful cook. On our list of Iraqi dishes to learn were Kibbeh bi Riz (Rice Kibbeh), a mixture of rice and potatoes stuffed with spiced beef, and a Fattoush Salad, a flavorful salad tossed with fried pita and pomegranate molasses. We formed our small patties of rice and potato and set them on the platter as Azhar congratulated us on our efforts. With a smile she fixed many of them as she assured us it took years to perfect the technique. Our host for the night, Luanne, made chocolate chip cookies and gave the recipe and a bag of chocolate chips to Azhar to take home.

We ended the evening sitting around Luanne’s dining room table eating delicious food and in both Arabic and English shared our stories of how and why we were there that evening. Our first cooking class was a memorable evening of connecting over shared recipes, stories, and Iraqi and American food.

Here are the recipes:


Rice Kibbeh

Cooking Class

5 cups Egyptian short-grain white rice. Soak for 15 minutes.

2 lbs halal ground beef

Cut 1 medium onion per pound of meat very fine

Brown meat with the onions. Do not add oil to meat. Cook meat until not pink, then simmer gently until all liquid is evaporated. Cool meat.

Add 1 tsp allspice, 1 tsp cardamom, 1 tsp turmeric to meat. Stir.

Boil water. When water is boiling hard, add drained rice. Make sue there is enough water to cover 3/4 inch over rice.

Add 1 tsp tumeric and at least 1 tablespoon salt to rice.

Keep heat high until rice gets to hard boil, then lower heat to simmer. It will take about 15-20 minutes.

When rice is done, cool until you can work it with your hand

Peel & cut 8 russet potatoes, boil, then mash without adding salt or pepper.
Add potato to rice in a 3 to 1 ratio.

Knead rice and potato together very well. Rice will disappear into the potato. Wet hands from time to time to keep mixture from sticking. Knead just as you would bread.

Form rice potato mixture into a golf-ball size ball. Knead and begin to flatten. Wet hands to keep from sticking.

Form a patty about 1/4 inch thick and about 3 inches across, with a well in it. Add about 1 T meat to well. Close up top like a purse, then roll into a ball. Flatten to a patty about 3/4 inch thick.

Heat vegetable oil hot, ,bubbling. Add patties, but not touching. Check and flip when golden on bottom.

Transfer to plate when golden on bottom.



Roast large purple eggplant, pricked in several places, at 400 degrees until very soft.

When cool, peel.

Mix in blender with 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp tahini, 1 tsp plain yogurt, salt to taste, juice of lemon to taste.


Chop tomato, cucumber, radishes, (could add chopped parsley and or a little lettuce.)

Dress with 1 clove Finely chopped garlic, mixed with lemon juice ( about 1/4 cup), 1/4 cup oil, 1 tsp pomegranate molasses, & salt to taste. Mix all, and dress salad.

Just before serving, fry small pieces of pita bread, toss into salad or sprinkle on top of salad


Enjoy! Sahtein (Arabic for two healths)!

Give to the Max Day 2015

Written on October 27, 2015, by


Each year, generous supporters like you celebrate Give to the Max Day by making your online donation on GiveMN.org. Your generosity on this day makes a difference far beyond the 24-hour giving event.

Join us on November 12, 2015, for Give to the Max Day and help us continue to promote reconciliation between the people of the United States and Iraq.

Your donation on Give to the Max Day also may help us receive an additional donation of $1,000. How? On November 12, every gift made on GiveMN.org will be entered into an hourly drawing for a $1,000 GiveMN Golden Ticket to be awarded to a nonprofit organization. That adds up to 24 opportunities for you to help us receive an extra $1,000!

Here’s the really exciting part: One donation made on GiveMN.org will be randomly selected at noon and at the end of Give to the Max Day to receive a $10,000 Super-Sized GiveMN Golden Ticket!

This year, Give to the Max Day is a part of our larger Growing Reconciliation campaign. We are thankful to have raised $7,733 so far. Mark your calendars for November 12th and help us reach our $20,000 goal!
Keep your eyes out for matching gifts and one of a kind rewards! Find our page to donate by searching for IARP on GiveMN.org or click here.


The Viral Effect

Written on April 6, 2015, by

The Iraqi Voices project was initiated and executed in the hopes that the stories would be shared and widely viewed. We enjoyed quite a bit of local exposure with the project, but a couple of weeks ago a surprise effect occurred online, Sarah Kanan’s 3 minute film for Iraqi Voices. “Torn Between” went VIRAL! A large website in Baghdad and a US-Iraq site both picked up the video and the response was immense. The film was viewed in one weekend by over 50,000 people. Sarah was overwhelmed by the outpouring of comments and emotions. Below, she translates and shares with us some of her favorite comments from online viewers:

عاشت ايدج على هذا الفيلم المعبر والمؤثر نتمنى لك العوده لموطنك الأصلي رغم كل الجراحات والدموع والماساة يبقى الوطن عزيز وهو يجمعنا ويغمرنا بمحبته

Bless your soul for this expressive and influential film. I wish you return to your original country of origin… despite all the pain and tears and tragedies, Iraq remains dear in our hearts…it embraces us with love and keeps us together.


ساره تعالي بعد ميتحسن الوضع لان ماريد هذا الجمال الي راسمته ببالج عن الوطن والحب يتلاشه

Sarah, Come back to Iraq when the conditions improve because I don’t want this beautiful picture you’ve drawn in your head about your home country and love to be destroyed.

كلامها عين العقل والفلم جميل. وماكو احد ميحب وطنه. لكن الظروف هي الي جبرته ان يترك وطنه ويعيش بالغربة. لان في العراق كثير من الظروف الي تجبر الشخص ان يترك وطنه ويتغرب ليعيش بأمان وسلام

Her words and the Film are very reasonable and legit…there is no one that doesn’t love their country of origin. However the circumstances are what forced us to leave the homeland and live in exile because in Iraq many of the conditions force the person to leave their motherland and fine refuge in a foreign place in order to live in safety and peace.


فهموني أهلي وآني صغيرة..أن الوطن أم…وكيف اترك أمي وهي مريضه ينهش بيه المرض..أبقى اعالجه واعيش بحضنها اﻻ ان يشاء ربي وتتعافى..والي طلع وهاجر معذور.. ناس تهددو وحاربوهم برزقهم..لكن الي عايش ومحد يمه ليش يعوف أمه..؟

When I was little, my parents taught me that your country of origin is like a mother…and how can I leave my mother when she is sick and being eroded by illness…I stay to treat her and live her chest and pray to god that she gets better….and the ones that left are excused…some were threatened and were attacked for their welfare. But those that lived in Iraq and were not attacked or threatened…why did they leave their mother?


حلو حلو طريقة نقله ﻷحساسه النفسي وصراحته مع ذاته… فلم قصير لكن بي معاني كبيرة ..

Beautiful the way she expressed her psychological emotion and her sense of frankness…a very short film with very big meanings.

الفيلم جميل جدا من حيث التصوير والاخراج ، و ساره كانت فنانة رائعة جسدت الفكرة وادت الرسالة التي تريد ابلاغها من خلال الفيلم حول الغربة والاغتراب ، مايطرحه الفيلم لا يمثل مشكلة ساره فقط ،، انا ايضا عراقي و اعيش في العراق و احمل ثقافتين ايضا ، ثقافة المجتمع العراقي و ثقافة حالمة تولدت في ذهني من خلال قراءتي مفادها ان المجتمعات الغربية تمثل حياة وردية واعدة بمزيد من الحرية . لذا انا ايضا اشعر بالاغتراب حتى وان كنت اعيش في بلدي ، لاني لا املك اي فرصة كي اطرح ارائي بخصوص موضوعات كالدين والسياسة و الحرية الفردية وحقوق المراة فهذه الامور خطوط حمراء غير مسموح بتناولها ومناقشتها في العراق لذا اجد نفسي مغتربا في بلدي ومجتمعي . المشكلة الاكبر هي ان ساره اذا عادت للعراق ربما ستعيش اغترابا اقسى وامر وستعاني كونها تحمل ثقافة غربية مكتسبة ،سارة تحلم بان تعود للعيش في عراق امن ، لكن العراق ليس امنا ، انه بلد تمزقه الصراعات ، وستفتقد ساره فسحة الحرية التي كانت تتمتع بها في اميركا ، في النهاية سارة تعاني ، والكثيرون يعانون مثل سارة ، سارة تحلم ونحن نحلم ، و لابد لنا ان نحلم لان الاحلام تبقى على الامل حيا في النفوس ، والحياة غير ممكنة بدون احلام

Very nice movie in terms of photography and directing, and Sarah was a wonderful artist embodied the idea and portrayed the message she wanted to communicate about alienation and estrangement, the issue presented in the film is not her issue alone, I am also an Iraqi and live in Iraq and carry two cultures….a culture of the Iraqi community and dreamy culture created in my mind through observation of the Western societies which represent a rosy and promising life with more freedom. So I also feel alienated even though I live in my country, because I do not have any opportunity to voice my opinions about topics like religion and politics and individual freedom and women’s rights….such things are red lines that cannot be discussed in Iraq, so I find myself as an expats in my own society and country. The bigger problem is that if Sarah returned to Iraq, she will probably live a much bitter alienation and will suffer because she carries a Western culture acquired over time. Sarah dreams of returning to live in a secure Iraq, but Iraq is not safe, it’s a country torn by conflict, and she will lose her basic freedom which she is enjoying in America…and at the end Sarah still suffers…and many suffer like Sarah, Sarah dreams and we dream, and we must be dream because dreams keep the hope alive in our soul for a better future, and life is not possible without dreams.

ربي يعودكم لدياركم ان شاء الله ينتصر العراق ويكون احلى واحسن من اي وقت وتتصافى القلوب

May God return you to your homes. God willing Iraq will triumph and become sweeter and better than ever and all of the hearts will become pure and unite regardless of differences.

الغربة احساس هذا ……كمامة لابس وانت وردة تشتم من شايف

You know when you smell a rose and you’re wearing a muzzle…that’s what it feels like to live in alienations.

وكفني وعرسي مولدي العراق

جنه بالعراق كل مرض مابينه بس وصلنه للغربه طلعت علينه الأمراض

Iraq is my birth and my wedding and my shroud. When we were in Iraq we were free of illnesses, and the moment we arrived to exile all kinds of illness began showing.