HORIZONS DUHOK Learning Center     June 2013 - April 2016

Horizons Duhok Learning Center was approved by the KRG Ministry of Education to provide adult English language courses.  A qualified and committed staff of native English speakers taught Beginner through Intermediate Classes as well as offering English conversation classes for advanced students.  

We averaged 40 students per term, and 8 students per class.  The students came from various cultural and religious backgrounds.  Teaching English is a fantastic way to make local friends, and develop your teaching gifts!

HORIZONS DUHOK Learning Center Director:  Matthew David Archer

Music For Life Project      October 2015 - February 2016
In the autumn of 2015, the Music for Life project was started for patients at the Burn and Plastic Surgery Hospital in Duhok.  Visits were made to the hospital twice a week where live music was performed to soothe and bring comfort to patients, their families and the medical staff.  The project concluded at the end of February 2016.

Project Manager:  Lizzy Hogg


SMILE Project         September 2011 - February 2016

The aim of the SMILE Project was to improve the emotional well-being of children who were receiving treatment for cancer and Thalassemia at the Jin Pediatric Center in Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan.  During our visits with the children, we provided activities which included arts and crafts, music, puzzles, and caring conversation.  

The SMILE Project was launched as a 3-month pilot project  in September 2011.  After a successful completion of the pilot project, ACORN staff received permission from the Directorate of Health to resume the project in 2012.  The twice per week visits stopped after the Pediatric Center relocated to a temporary facility which did not have space for the project. 

Project Manager:  Lizzy Hogg


English Camp for Children - 21 - 27 June, 2014

In cooperation with other ex-pats living in Duhok, ACORN sponsored an English Camp for 65 children in the Duhok Governorate.  Permission for the camp was granted by the Directorate of Education in Duhok and the Ministry of Education in Erbil.  This 7 day camp was staffed by teachers and volunteers from the USA, Canada, Colombia, Germany and Holland.  In addition to English classes, the children attended classes in theater, dance, music, sports and recreation, mime, and art.

Report by Cathy Miles


Football Project at Domiz Refugee Camp - 2013

ACORN staff and international volunteers provided football training and supervision of football matches for students at the Domiz Refugee Camp school.  This project operated during the school year.

Report by Matthew David Archer


Agricultural Development – Flower Farming 2010 - 2012

The Flower Farm Project was established in 2010 with the purpose of providing new employment and job opportunities to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq.  Another aim of the project was to encourage the production of more locally grown products.  The project ended in 2012.

Project manager: Case Comer


English Camp for Children 2011

From June 23 to 26, 2011, ACORN sponsored an English Camp for children in the Duhok Governorate.  The 4 day camp provided English instruction and activities to 57 children from age 7 to 15.  Experienced teachers and volunteers from the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Colombia provided instruction in English, drama, dance, arts and crafts, music and physical education.  The camp was held at Kajin School in Zawita, Duhok Governorate. 

Report by Cathy Miles



ACORN has been working in the area of physiotherapy (physical therapy) in Northern Iraq since 1993 and there is still a lot of work to be done.  We are presently working in three main ways:

Locally: Providing ongoing training for staff and support in their treatment of patients.

Governorate wide (Sulaimaniyah): Working with the managers and director of physiotherapy in seeing physiotherapy develop.

- Regionally, nationally and internationally: Working with the Minister of Health and Minister of Higher Education to facilitate physiotherapy development across the region and beyond.

Here are some of the things we have been involved in recently:

  • Teaching electrotherapy
  • Training in the management of acute low back pain
  • Management seminars
  • Involvement in meetings for the commencement of a bachelor’s degree programme in physiotherapy
  • Meeting with the Minister of Health in the Kurdistan Regional Government to lobby for physiotherapy
  • Treating patients
  • Providing English classes for the local therapists so they can have improved access to books and international journals

If you feel called to work in any of these areas please do feel free to contact us.
Looking forward to hearing from you.

On behalf of ACORN,
Eduard Hoogeland
Physiotherapy Consultant Iraq


Football Project 2009

In April of 2009, ACORN undertook a project in a group of underdeveloped villages using soccer coaching as a means of community development focused on children and youth.

The aim of the project was to train the local coaches in more advanced methods of developing soccer players and provide them with increased knowledge of correct, professional soccer techniques. As a long term solution, the project equipped the local coaches with the skills to continue providing opportunities in soccer for local children after ACORN’s conclusion of involvement.

The secondary aim was to challenge and develop the children in their morals and basic principles of life.  We sought to instill in them the attitudes necessary to lead successful and fruitful lives no matter what career path they choose.

As part of the project, 80-90 young people were daily bussed to and from a full-sized, well maintained soccer field approximately 30 minutes from the villages.

A team of four international volunteers came to serve as temporary coaches.

Overall the sports project was a success. There was a consistency in attendance by the participating youth, and the local coaches showed diligence in learning and taking initiative to organize the young people in the villages and on the field. Two local coaches, who were present everyday of the project, received certificates to re-teach the soccer clinic in the village. Also ACORN provided equipment for the continuation of sports development through the two certified local coaches.

“They are great kids, very receptive. It was a blast working with them. It was awesome to see the children applying what we taught them, seeing their improvement on the field and in their relationships with us and others.” - Volunteer Coach

“It was amazing to have the opportunity to partner with ACORN to provide these kids the chance to build their skills, and to assist in the teaching of the local coaches. The language barrier was frustrating at times, but overall the project was a good experience and a real success.” - Volunteer Coach

Report by Ashley Thorpe


English classes for physiotherapists

Many of us with English as our native language take English fluency for granted.  We don’t realize how beneficial this language is, not to just watch movies, but to further our education, knowledge and profession.

Our Kurdish physiotherapists desire to know English so as to talk with international visiting lecturers, to learn and research through world-class textbooks, workshops, and the Internet.  I initially began with approximately 50 physiotherapists from the Teaching Hospital, Adult Rehabilitation Centre, Burn and Plastic Center, and Children’s Rehabilitation Centre.

My most recent class was a 4-week Conversational Beginner Course held in May 2010, at the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre.  I had 6 students, all whom were women.  It was a delight to teach them.  I remember the first week, where they were too shy to say anything, then near the end, they felt confident enough to speak the best that they could.

This group of women was eager to learn and speak English.  What I enjoyed the most was being with them, getting to know them, and having fun as we all laughed our way through class; myself trying to communicate in Kurdish when they were not understanding, and them trying to communicate in Kurdish when no English words were coming to mind.

What I find really important in teaching English is to be sensitive and to always encourage.  Many of these students know much more than we would think, but fear stops many of them from speaking and engaging in conversation.  They are afraid of how they sound, if they will make a mistake, and they need more confidence.

In this city there are many gifted physiotherapists.  My goal is to encourage them in their profession as I teach so they will grow in their ability and know that what they do is incredibly valuable.

Report by Lizzy Hogg

Hip fracture project

Hip fractures are a growing problem worldwide as the population is living longer.  It’s somewhat common for hip fractures to occur when people get older (especially women) because things like osteoporosis can weaken bones.  However, after a fracture it’s much harder for people to get back on their feet and there are many complications as a result.

Sadly, there is a lack of evidence regarding hip fractures and their management in the Middle East, particularly in the war torn nation of Iraq.  Therefore, a small project was undertaken during the summer of 2010 to provide a detailed description of the current practice of hip fracture management in one orthopaedic department.  This will then be presented to the local doctors and followed up with a summary report to the Kurdish Regional Government with the aim of encouraging a positive change in practice.

Report by Clare Farrance

ACORN is a registered Dutch foundation (reg. no. 41213058)