Husham Althahabi: The Light of Hope Never Dies

“The most important thing is to have the determination to start. Lighting a candle is better than shedding tears over ashes,” says Husham Althahabi, who was among the five finalists to bag the prize of the 2017 Arab Hope Makers initiative, in recognition for his efforts in spreading hope through the ‘Iraqi House of Creativity’ in Baghdad.

The Iraqi humanitarian pioneer, who began his journey helping children in 1998 when he adopted two kids, decided to take action rather than be a bystander. He saw homeless orphans wandering hopelessly around the office of a humanitarian organisation looking for a shelter. In 2004, he turned his house into a foster home, which has become a safe haven for the city’s orphans and homeless children.

Husham’s ‘Iraqi House of Creativity’ has helped raise 480 orphans to lead independent, productive lives. The House currently hosts 70 children. Since winning the Arab Hope Makers prize, Husham’s aspirations have grown bigger, and the lives of the children he has taken in have changed drastically. He finally had the means to turn his dream into reality. He put his AED 1 million prize towards establishing a foster home in Baghdad, which is set be an official childcare establishment for orphans, homeless children and others in need.

Today, Husham is finally living his dream. He started building the foster home in October 2020, which is due for completion by the end of 2021. Once complete, it will be an eco-friendly, integrated institute, comprising a counselling centre, health club, gym, football pitch, study halls and a library. The home will provide full-time housing for 280 young people and offer support to more than 1,000 non-resident children every year. Children will also be able to undertake occupational training programmes in a variety of areas including cooking, sewing, embroidery and hairdressing.