About us

OUR STORY

Hiwa Foundation is a non-governmental organisation based in the city of Sulaimani, Kurdistan, Iraq. Hiwa Rauf and our director, Nian Abdullah, with the vision to educate and empower the people of the region, founded the organisation in 2013. The couple believe that economic growth alone is not enough to rebuild a society in a region subject to political and social unrest. The organisation is built on the ethos that successful individuals within a society have a responsibility to re-invest in the people, the next generation in particular. The region in which we operate has seen some challenging periods. As we all rebuild the country, we believe it is important to invest in the potential of each individual and in the ability of people to grow, to learn, and with the right support, to transcend their circumstances, however difficult.

Since 2013, Hiwa Foundation has supported a diverse range of local projects, translated publications, produced documentaries and distributed educational materials throughout the region. We want people to have access to knowledge from all over the world, so that they can be educated, inspired and empowered.

OUR PEOPLE

Hiwa Rauf

Co-founder & Chairman

Hiwa Rauf

Co-founder & Chairman

Hiwa Rauf is a successful entrepreneur, holding investments in multiple companies. An innovative and driven business professional, he has over 30 years of experience in the construction industry and the telecom and trading business. His expertise has given him a unique understanding of the economic landscape of the region, and his investments into social enterprises demonstrate a core belief that the education of women and girls is one of the most effective ways to reduce the rate of poverty Having a thorough understanding of a region where the workforce is largely male-dominated, Hiwa strongly believes in the need for positive female role models to be visible to society, particularly for the young people of the region.

“Everyone understands that knowledge is power, but unless this knowledge becomes widely available and accessible throughout communities, social change will not be possible. I want to do my part to support this change, empowering women with the tools to help them access the workplace as equal members of society.”

Nian Abdulla

Co-Founder & President

Nian Abdulla

Co-Founder & President

Nian Abdullah, a chemical engineering graduate, is an experienced human resources consultant and strategist. Since graduating from the University of Baghdad in 1980, Nian has worked across a variety of sectors, from sugar mills to clothing factories, and most recently, a multinational telecommunications company. As a successful career woman, Nian has a particular understanding of the specific needs for the development of the Iraqi workforce, particularly young people just starting out in their professional careers. A highly educated woman herself, Nian believes that only with the right education and support will people be able to thrive in society. It is with this vision that Nian decided to establish Hiwa Foundation, with her co-founder and husband, Hiwa. They both saw a need to serve the people of Iraq, not only with basic civic rights, but also with the tools to inspire and encourage communities to develop coping strategies and mechanisms.

“A healthy workforce is about much more than simply the ability to work. A workforce must also be emotionally healthy, with strong communication skills and the ability to feel inspired and inspire others in their community.”

 

 

Shiereen Saib

Head of Programmes

Shiereen Saib

Head of Programmes

Although Shiereen Saib was born Sulaimani, she was raised and educated in The Netherlands where she obtained her degree in Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. A refugee herself, she has remained a passionate advocate of the strength of diversity and an empowered diaspora, becoming the national coordinator of the Youth Council at the Federation of Refugee Organisations at the age of 16. She has served as a legal consultant at the Dutch Refugee Council, and has over 20 years of experience developing and managing projects for a number of organisations in Europe, centering social participation, empowerment and diversity. In 2014 she returned to her hometown, where she first helped set up the Center for Gender and Development Studies at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. In 2016 she became working with Hiwa Foundation, first as a consultant and later as the Head of Programmes.  

Shiereen’s involvement in Hiwa Foundation has been warmly welcomed as she has brought with her a wealth of experience in not only project management but also as a trainer and facilitator. She also has broad experience in developing community projects using different forms of art as a starting point. Shiereen has a passion for modern art, travelling and reading.

“As we tend to feel helpless in the face of tragedies of war and trauma, we should not overlook the fact that such circumstances also provide us with the opportunity to bring out the best in ourselves and inspire others to do the same. A community that is trying to heal is also a community very keen to learn, grow and flourish. It is a privilege to be working in a region where people have shown great resilience in the face of adversity.” 

Chra Akram

Project Manager

Chra Akram

Project Manager

Chra Akram was born in the year of the Kurdish uprising in Iraq. She grew up in post-Saddam Iraq, as part of a generation that is more connected to the rest of the world. She is a fervent reader and has a passion for self-development books. Chra is an English Language graduate from the University of Sulaimani. She also has obtained certificates in Human Resources and Project Management at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. Before joining the Hiwa Foundation team she worked at Komar University of Science and Technology. At Hiwa Foundation she started as a communication officer, but soon left her mark on a variety of projects. She has been especially involved in the development of the translation of TED talks. She currently is a Project Manager who takes lead in the translation projects and runs daily affairs at the foundation.

“Aristotles says educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. I believe that education needs a holistic approach. Providing children with new skills and knowledge is not enough if that child does not grow up in a healthy family and in an emotionally supportive school environment. We therefore develop programs that involve the entire environment of the child.” 

Rooz Muhammed

Art and design officer

Rooz Muhammed

Art and design officer

Rooz first was introduced to hiwa Foundation as a student at the College of Fine Arts at the University of Sulaimani, as member an exchange group that went to Germany. After graduating as top of her class in the Graphics and Design department, in the summer of 2018, she joined Hiwa Foundation as the Art & Design officer. She is responsible for the design of all the foundation’s productions. She is also responsible for the coordination of Karge Comics Studio, a joint project between Hiwa Foundation and Paia Agency. Since her teenage years Rooz has been involved as a volunteer in a range of cultural and community projects. She is hoping to start her Masters in the coming years and develop herself more as an artist. She is continuously improving her design skills as well. 

 “Art of all kinds – music, literature, traditional arts, visual arts – are tools for any generation to express their feelings of identity. In our community, that is affected by many forms of trauma, art gives people a great sense of power. “

Shyaw Lateef

HEALTHY FAMILIES TRAINER

Shyaw Lateef

HEALTHY FAMILIES TRAINER

Shyaw is a Family counselor and a Trainer. She has her master's degree in Family education and counseling at Istanbul University, Turkey. Since her academic life until now she has participated in many different training courses on a local and international level. She has been trained in using different Therapeutic Techniques as psychodrama, hypnosis, art therapy and approaches such as CBT, education 3000..etc. As well she is a graduate of PSS program from center of MHPSS at Koya University.

Shyaw works on implementing trainings and Counseling Services; Gender based violence, Mediation and negotiation, Sexual problems, establishing Attachment between mother and Child, Pre-marriage Counseling, Child education and Family and Marital issues.

Furthermore she has contributed in preparing two curriculums, one of them is in titles "Sexuality between newly marriages" For Ministry of Health. The other one is "Facilitators handbook, Life skill education for children age 7-15 for Team institute. She also has translated 4 published books on child education.

Ahmed Khalidi

Healthy Families Trainer

Ahmed Khalidi

Healthy Families Trainer

Ahmed Khalidi, a trainer and a family counselor, was born in Sulaimani. After finishing his
masters degree in Family Education and Counseling in Turkey, he started helping families to
attain a better understanding, deeper connectedness and deal with their relationship
conflicts more efficiently through training and family counseling. He has participated in
many training and academic programs. He started working at Family Counseling Center in
ministry of health in KRG/Sulaimaniyah. In that center, he has participated in preparing
programs and delivered premarital counseling to hundreds of newlyweds since 2016. At the
same time, he has focused on raising parent awareness on how to integrate efficient
parenting skills in child rearing in the modern world. For that purpose, he has conducted
many workshops and seminars. He has, also, translated several educational books into
Kurdish.