Rise Foundation is a small, flexible NGO established in the Kurdish Region of Iraq in 2013 in response to the Syrian crisis. Rise initially worked on camp development projects and cash for work schemes, seeking practical, innovative solutions to daily problems within Syrian refugee camps.
With the onset of ISIS and the large-scale internal displacement that ensued, Rise used its grass roots approach and well-established local network to provide critical relief in hard to reach areas, temporarily filling the gaps in the humanitarian response while informing larger actors of developing needs. From the delivery of medical support to Sinjar Mountain, wheat grinders to farming communities in Ninewa and emergency food and NFI distributions in Debaga, Rise has developed significant experience and knowledge of the context within the Kurdish Region and disputed territories of northern Iraq.
As the number of humanitarian and development actors increased throughout the region, Rise easily transitioned into the field of information and analysis. Using its experience, network of sources and continuous field research, Rise informs partners through rapid assessments and provides recommendations to relevant actors. Rise has since worked to help inform and improve the response from NGOs, governments, security forces and UN agencies. As a result, over the years, Rise Foundation has developed strong working relationships with numerous actors and agencies.
After graduating in Politics and International Relations, Tom volunteered and worked in a number of countries including Antigua, Palestine and South Korea. He returned to the UK to attend The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst but after deciding against a military career pursued one in the humanitarian field. After obtaining a distinction in his Masters in International Relations and Diplomacy – writing his dissertation on humanitarian intervention – Tom moved to Erbil, where he founded Rise Foundation. Tom also works as a consultant for Oxfam GB and has contributed to numerous humanitarian and development fora and workshops.
Jasper’s interest in the Kurdish Region of Iraq began in 2008 when he was commissioned to write a book based on the letters of a British soldier who served in the WW1 Mesopotamian Campaign. He followed this with a documentary on the region, which started as a walk along the historic Hamilton Road from Erbil to the Iranian border at Haji Omaran. His passion for community engagement began in the villages of the Anand district in Gujarat, northern India, where he studied the continuation of casteism and communalism. Jasper worked for Rise Foundation in 2014 with a focus on camp development projects and has since been expanding his historical and contemporary understanding of the region.
Tom Hands graduated from his Masters in War Studies at King’s College in 2015. He primarily studied conflicts in the Middle East and contemporary depictions of war in Western culture. Tom then worked in Lebanon as a conflict analyst where he focused on local conflicts in Lebanon’s Tripoli and ongoing dynamics between Hizballah and Israel. He then interned at the Royal United Services Institute and conducted research and analysis on the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Tom has also volunteered in Palestine as a research and assessment assistant, helping to document issues faced by Palestinian life under occupation.