To the most loyal blog reader in the world, I write this entry after a long, tiring day. Yet when I return to my room at home I feel great even though the things I saw during the course of the day were enough to give me immediate grey hairs.^
I turn 23 next month, and what a great way to finish 22 years of my life by empowering young people in high schools across Erbil. I can’t think of a greater gift to give myself than spending my final weeks of 22 doing something I am so passionate about with people who I love and believe in so much.* I see a gap, a huge gap and here I am with a team of the greatest people I have ever met trying to fill this gap in our youth today. We are empowering young people.
Today the mission was an all girls school. This was not with the greatest building and certainly did not have the best facilities. If you compare it to the west this is poor standards, but compared to the context of where I am, this is probably an above average high school. It is evident there are attempts to make this place student friendly- with illustrations on the walls in the inside. If you ask me, both schools I went to today I would rather call them prisons but you’re lucky not long ago I visited a different school in Erbil where the facilities were just WOW, and no, it was not a private one. If I hadn’t seen that I would probably bombard your mind about the horrible conditions of our schools here, but I know it is a work in process. Annnyyyy wayyyyyy…..!! On the bright side of things…
There I am, standing with girls around 16 to 18 years old, this time the focus is on violence against woman. “Oh God, not that again!!” That’s what you were thinking, right?
When the two-hour session was over they would stay behind and talk, ask questions and I can see within them the eagerness to grow, to become something. They tell me they want to be lawyers, teachers and one even said she dreamed of becoming a police woman!
These girls argued that they stand against polygamy. These same girls speak passionately and wholeheartedly about the confrontations they face in society about shamefulness and the obstacles in their life; and they are still firm believers that the stereotypical roles of men and women no longer exist.
When asked to undertake role plays, they seem to be actresses. When debating topics about sexual harassment, rights, privileges and society some of them speak like lawyers and human rights activists. These girls are passionate and can be leaders, change makers, and if educated correctly with complete confidence I can say Kurdistan will be in a great hands. But. There is always a but.
I know and I realize, like so many others that I have seen, these girls are not getting the chances, and opportunities they need. They lack an environment that supports them to think outside the box, to believe in their dreams, and to have hope. If you ask me, if we don’t work with these minds now then believe me we will lose another generation of youth, who in a matter of years will have children of their own raised with a mindset that is not going progress this nation.
I promise them a one week of empowerment workshop in their summer break. Only because I believe these girls have within them talent, skills and thought to shape Kurdistan and shake the world. But we must begin working on them now… before it is too late. You see, here you can’t just stay back after school for extracurricular activities, you can’t ask the principle to provide you with the class on a weekend. But with their determination, and our commitment we will make it happen.
I have so many wishes and so many ideas, but there is only a handful that I can do. We are now working on this idea of peer education across Kurdistan, starting from Erbil, I have this vision of creating youth leaders and role models in every high school in the province. It is going to be happen. I know it will. Together, we will make it happen!
As for school number two. I decided to leave that for tomorrow, but the picture of my hand below might give you a hint.
Keep smiling until I write again tomorrow and please remember: Be the change you want to see in Kurdistan^The reason? Staff. School staff. No more comments.
*23 is going to be a turn in the road career wise. You need to stay tuned on tasbih-cha to know more about this.
All pictures taken here are property of START NGO.