Karen Dabrowska

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KAF Co-operates with Toys for Smiles

The Kurdish Aid Foundation (KAF) is co-operating with Toys for Smiles in supplying educational materials for children in refugee camps in Kurdistan.


A Toy for a Smile

During its meeting in May, it was agreed that KAF would donate £50.00 for the purchase of pencils, pens, drawing materials, colouring in books etc. from the pound shop. These were donated to the founder of Toys for Smiles Mr Ashty Dizayee who distributed them on International Children’s Day (1st June) to the Christian Refugee Camp in Ankawa Erbil. Mr Dizayee has also distributed toys and educational materials to the children of martyrs of Kurdistan and to Dara Shyakran Camp.

Toys for Smiles is small charity mainly run by Ashty Dizayee and his family and friends. Dizayee is also the Director of London-based Global Link a translation, business/student visa and legalisation service with an office in Edgware Road.

He first thought of the toy giving concept before he visited Kurdistan two years ago. He wanted to take some toys with him – specifically footballs and other sports related items to the Kawergosk camp in Erbil and started collecting toys from friends and neighbours. Mr Shahid manager of Zinkmas (UK) Ltd in Scotland donated 50 footballs of different sizes.

It was the summer of 2014 – the time of the World Cup – and the footballs brought an essence of the World Cup to the Syrian children who were deprived from the fun and culture of the World Cup.

Dizayee took the toys and the footballs to the camp with the help of Rise - a local Kurdish and British charity organisation. “It was such a joy seeing these children receive the new balls and play with them,” he recalled. The remainder boxes went to other camps in the region assisted by the Rise foundation.

This encouraged Dizayee to do more and broaden the activity: he wrote to many of his friends and business contacts and through KRG London with the help of his cousin Sayran Dizayee. managed to collect many toys, mostly used but good quality and sent through Shah Post via trucks to Erbil. The most recent shipment sent in mid-July consisted of nine boxes (110kg) of stationary, second hand clothes, toys and books.

Dizayee’s brother, Sardar, an ex-peshmerga who is now working as an electrical engineer in Erbil takes charge of the donated items. When they reach Erbil he takes them to his house where an upper empty room is used for charity work. Sardar sorts the toys with the age and sex of the recipients in mind, puts them in plastic bags and organises the distribution. He has good contacts with the Ministry of Peshmergas Department of Martyrs and visits the refugee camps and homes of martyrs. Some of the donated materials are also given to Iraqi and Kurdish IDP’s.

Dizayee is now focusing on getting educational toys and stationery to encourage the education deprived Syrian children. He is also trying to raise awareness among the Kurdish community in the UK, specifically in London about the plight of the Syrian children and to encourage people to give and do something to help.

Dizayee is concerned that there is no culture of giving in the Kurdish community even though the Kurds have suffered during the Anfal campaign and the chemical weapons attack on Halabja. He recalls that in 1991 thousands of pounds were raised when the Kurds and their friends held a 14-day fast. As much as £1500 was raised in one day.