NEWSLETTER: August 14 – Iraq government promises to build three mental health centers



August 14th, 2021

This week’s highlights

  • School for teen mothers in Kenya gets support
  • Iraqi government promises to build three mental health centers
  • Have you reserved your seats at Night For Rights?
  • Webinar: COVID-19 & the triple threat of poverty, inequality and unemployment in South

School for teen mothers
in Kenya gets support

  Greenland Girls’ staff and students pose with visitors at the school
    – Photo courtesy GGS’s Facebook page


A school for teen mothers in Kenya’s Kajiado County, Greenland Girls School, has received a boost in
publicity and numerous pledges of support after journalist and JHR trainee Moraa Obiria interviewed its
founder and CEO Purity Gikunda whom she met at a roundtable organized for civil society
organizations by JHR’s Canada World: Voice for Women and Girls’ Rights (VWGR) program.

In an article published in Nation Africa on July 23, Obiria and her co-author Charles Wanyoro describe
the culture of discrimination against teenage mothers in mainstream Kenyan schools despite the
enactment of national policies supporting their education, and highlight Greenland Girls as a rare,
special school that “offers hope to teenage mothers”.

Speaking about her school’s feature in the article, Gikunda said, “Seeing an article published in a
leading newspaper the Daily Nation was a joy. There was even more joy when I started
receiving calls from organizations and individuals who pledged to support my school because
we depend on donations to educate the girls and for their babies. I have already received a
call that soon we will get sanitary pads donated to us. All of this is happening because of the Nation

Gikunda says the school’s intake has also increased: “Many parents have started bringing their girls
who are pregnant or gave birth to our school. I am happy they got to know there is a school that
could give them a chance to continue with their education after early motherhood.” Read
Gikunda’s full statement here.

Iraq Ministry of Health announces
plan to build three mental health centres


Iraqi citizens have lived through four decades of wartime – and now a pandemic – with scant resources
for mental health. As an article in Ayn Al-Iraq News by JHR-trained journalist Ja’afar Ali revealed,
Al-Rashad Psychiatric Hospital in Baghdad is the only mental health facility in Iraq and has received
little to no support from the government after it was built 60 years ago.

In the article, a member of the parliamentary committee on health admitted that mental health has not
been a priority for the Iraqi government; however, he promised to push the government to allocate a
portion of the federal budget to mental health care.

In response to the JHR-supported story, the Iraqi Ministry of Health has announced a plan to
build three centers for mental health in Iraq, adding that the ministry has also communicated directly
with the cabinet to increase funding for the capacity-building of specialized medical staff and the overall
development of the mental health care sector.

Help us continue this essential awareness-building work through JHR’s Mobilizing Media to Fight
COVID-19 (MMFC) program. When journalists shine the light on human rights abuses and injustices, it
leads to actual, life-changing impact.

      The above stories are part of the Mobilizing Media to Fight COVID-19 project funded by

Have you reserved your seats
at Night For Rights 2021?


JHR is holding its annual Night for Rights gala dinner and party at the Brickworks Pavilion in Toronto on
October 20, 2021, from 6pm to 8pm. This year, mindful of potential public health concerns, we’re also
offering our supporters the opportunity to join the party online with a fabulous virtual experience in the

Thank you to the Fisher family, Delaney family, Shelly Meadows, and our numerous other supporters
for purchasing tables and tickets at the early bird rate. Tickets continue to sell fast and are available
for purchase at at $1000 for a ticket and $8000 for a table of up to 8

We look forward to seeing you on October 20!

Webinar replay: COVID-19 & the triple
threat of inequality, poverty and unemployment in South Africa


Last week, JHR’s MMFC program brought together a panel of economic experts to share their analysis
of the South African government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and where course
correction is needed.

The panel was moderated by journalist and JHR media trainer Azola Dayile, and featured data-packed
presentations by Nicholas Ngepah, Professor of Economics at the University of Johannesburg and
Isobel Frye, Director of the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII).

Professor Ngepah said that the government-imposed lockdowns were not effective in controlling the
spread of COVID-19 or preventing deaths due to the virus — and that better international border
management was needed. He added that lockdowns led to greater suffering of poorer citizens due to
rising food prices, malnutrition and higher infant mortality rates, and suggested that the government
create work opportunities close to the homes of poor citizens in order to effectively restrict the
movement of the population during the pandemic.

Isobel Frye unpacked the government aid program (Social Relief of Aid (SRoD) grants) and made
several recommendations for its improvement, notably that having short-term employment should not
disqualify citizens from receiving social assistance.

Watch the full webinar here.


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