Behind the mask in Iraq / Jolar Jarjess, helping farmers during COVID-19

Date 19.06.2020

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, amid many doubts and questions, Jolar Jarjess was certain that being close to people affected by crises is a fundamental principle for effective humanitarian action.

"Our role during a crisis like COVID-19 is not to avoid danger, but to manage it in a way that allows us to assist the affected communities." Says Jolar Jarjess, primary veterinarian working with “A virtuous production cycle to relaunch a city and its economic fabric for IDPs and returnees to the Ninevah Plains”.

Born in Baghdad, but living in Qaraqosh since he was four years old, Jolar Jarjess has a fundamental role in AVSI’s project funded by U.S State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). Jolar has been the primary veterinarian since the beginning of the project, helping local farmers breed calves, sheep, and poultry sustainably.

As part of his job, Jolar identifies farms that may be eligible to join the program. If approved, farms will be refurbished and prepared with the technical specifications needed for the purchase of livestock and fodder. Jolar also coordinates the recruitment of qualified veterinarians to follow-up the production cycles and carry out professional examination before the purchase of animals and food. He is in charge of the treatment programs to be followed by the veterinarians and breeders and accompanies breeders to ensure a successful production cycle.

"It is important that I keep working because animals are exposed to risks of disease and epidemics, which may lead to their deaths, and expose breeders to a large loss that may damage their businesses," explains Jolar. "As a veterinarian, I develop prevention and treatment plans to control these diseases and train breeders on how to raise animals to achieve the best productivity. Our work is essential for their socio-economic recovery after the huge losses faced due to the invasion of ISIS."

2020 Iraq. Jolar Jarjess (Behind The Mask) 2
2020 Iraq. Jolar Jarjess (Behind The Mask) 3

Although it hasn’t stopped, Jolar’s work has been dramatically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the imposition of curfews. To avoid the spread, AVSI Iraq put in place new strategies to follow up with beneficiaries and assure the continuity of activities and secure profitable production cycles essential to the sustainability of the support. Most follow-ups with beneficiaries are done by phone or video call, but Jolar still needs to visit farmers in urgent situations when animals are at risk of dying.

"I certainly hope and aspire to do more so that we can reach all the people who need help personally” says Jolar. "Visiting animals is a great chance to spend time with farmers, understand their needs and practice together. I'm happy to start it again".