There is only one psychiatrist for every 300,000 people in Iraq. After three major wars, two invasions and the atrocities of Islamic State, how do the people of Iraq come to terms with the mental health crisis gripping their nation? Karim Wasfi’s featured in this short BBC documentary about the need for healing in Iraq and his work to do just that through music.


In a humble gesture of reparations for the destruction and instability that has resulted from the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, I invite members of the public—especially those from countries that backed the invasion—to join me in supporting Iraqi musicians who play on, despite.

I am specifically raising funds for the transformative work of maestro Karim Wasfi, known for his impromptu cello performances at sites of bombings in Iraq. His Peace Through Art Foundation runs educational, empowering and healing music programs for youth and internally displaced refugees in Iraq. At the end of this campaign all contributions to this Go Fund Me will be transferred to maestro Wasfi, the director of Peace Through Art. 

I was humbled to have Maestro Wasfi collaborate with me on my recent project Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) hosted at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in February 2019 and on display until June 2019.  This Go Fund Me campaign is a key part of this project.

Please join me in supporting maestro Wasfi and the music of those who continue to play on, despite.

     —Aaron Hughes

Thank You for Your Contribution

The first 250 people who make contributions of $45 (~£35) or more, will receive a copy of the Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) LP record. This limited edition LP was recorded live at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. It features cello performances by maestro Karim Wasfi, interspersed with original poetry from Iraqi-American poet Dunya Mikhail, and Iraq War veteran poets Kevin Basl and Carlos Sirah. Special guests GemArts, a Gateshead arts organization working with Syrian refugee young people, have contributed Hip-Hop and spoken word performances.

As a special thank you, the first 10 people who make contributions of $100 (~£75) or more will receive the Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) LP record, along with an additional liner notes booklet autographed by the contributing artists.

Finally, the first 3 people who make contributions of $2,000 (~£1,500) or more, will receive the Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) LP record, the autographed liner notes booklet, and a signed artist’s proof of one of the nine Poetry Despite/Music Despite (Eternal War Requiem) woodblock prints.

PLEASE NOTE: To receive your special thank you gift, please leave your name and full shipping address in the comments section on the donation page (you may choose to make your information private--otherwise it will be made public on our Go Fund Me site). The LP’s and other gifts will be shipped shortly after their release in June 2019. As Go Fund Me keeps all donor information confidential, if you do not leave your shipping information in the comments section there will be no way for us to send you your gift.