Loyal blog readers,
I am on a mission. Of all the great and wonderful and amazing and just… super great people that cross my everyday life I will post an eight week series. One Kurdistani girl a week on the blog. I want to introduce you to these remarkable young women who are full of energy, inpiration and are sources of hope.
I couldn’t resist but open the series with none other than….
Name: Shan Kameran Bakir
Profession: Dentist, but that’s just a different story. Founder and General Manager of Dilvia NGO
We met last year (gosh! If I put it that way it sounds like such a long time ago. You know, 2014) I saw her doing a presentation, and admired her right then and there. Fast forward a few months I found myself in the hottest summer mornings, in my tracksuits at her house, 8 am. I must add it was Ramadan.
My purpose was to join in the Ramadan Basket project she and her team of volunteers had. The point is, I woke her, like a little too early (I had my excuses) for our pre arranged meeting. She sat me in her family’s living room. I wish I recorded our conversation. The woman I was sitting next to was the purest being in the world. I asked, she answered. I asked, she answered. No, not an interrogation. But one of those meetings where you feel Oprah (no, I wasn’t Oprah) is talking to the most inspiring woman on the planet. A smooth conversation from culture, to politics, to her challenges, to family… It was that Ramadan morning I knew I have met someone in my life that will one day change the world. That is, if she hadn’t already done so.
Sitting in her family’s living room, filled with a wall of pictures, memories, siblings’ graduation, proud parents, I knew this living room is filled with love. With emotion, this home has a soul. The girl sitting in front of me has gone through the most extreme circumstances in life, and in front of her I feel I have accomplished nothing in this world to better anyone’s life. She is a girl who can relate to all, a simple hard-working family who have extraordinary hearts.
She is the girl who never stops smiling, the one with the colourful hijab, the most down to earth being I have come across. Shan is the one who is always listening to others, but when she speaks you want to just sit and observe her passion in every word she says. The type whose eyes say a million words, and when she is happy or excited they give a diamond-like shine that is so pure… and full of hope. She is those girls that you miss to see if weeks pass without meeting her, the one who literally loves life and cares more about people than anything. Shan is the bubbly personality, the one who can empathize with all, the loyal friend, the older sister, and, in my opinion, the change maker. If these aren’t good enough reasons for you to get to know her more, then I don’t know what is.
I asked her some questions (she wrote the responses) so are you ready? Get your tea (coffee, juice, milk or your bag of junk food) and enjoy a casual conversation with Shan, right here, on the blog.
Mandalawi: Let’s start broad, how would you introduce yourself? What do you do?
Shan: I’m just another person in this world who didn’t accept to surrender to the bad and negative influence we grow up with in our society… I just believed that I can make a difference with my own simple effort… then I got surprised by all the people who wanted to help as well… when I decided to dedicate my time in serving others… that is actually when I start living… what I do? I’ve graduated to be a Dentist! Although I never found myself in this job… so I started to follow my passion in helping others and now I’m the founder and general manager of Dilvia charity organization…and I’m working on developing this volunteer work into my all-day Job so I can get access and dedication on helping more people .
(Sazo, If I sound cheezy please help) [No Shan, not cheeeeezy at all, and I will keep every word you write. Hehe]..
Mandalawi: What’s your journey so far, how did you get to where you are today?
Shan: I had to fight a lot of challenges.. I cried a lot.. I got depressed and disappointed by the society’s ideas and traditions that stood in my way… but I literally never gave up… I couldn’t..because it was a way of breathing to me .. as soon as I found my dream and found myself in it I wouldn’t think for a moment to let it go…
The challenges included restrictions and bad expectations from all the people I knew who thought that I was wasting my time and I would never help someone if I wasn’t “well-known” or “rich” … but on the other hand… there was a few people who believed in me and supported me in a way I will never forget… all I needed was to keep going and insisting on my belief … and everything went perfectly amazing .
Sazan: One day, I hope you get to meet Shan, and let her share with you the challenges. No matter how much I write it won’t be the way she describes it. I love how she calls it challenge, while others would call the same experience problem/setback or end of road. See how amazing this girl is?
Mandalawi: What is your passion? What do you live for?
Shan: The smile I see when I help someone … the great feeling I have when someone tells me that “he wanted to help a lot but didn’t know how until he met me”…my dedication is to share a way of happiness and satisfaction in life and help my society to develop and start seeing peace and love spread instead of poverty and hatred or racism
Shan: A day of my life would be hopefully an unpredicted day … it’s in my personality “bad and good in the same time” that I hate routine and planned days… but it should include (I won’t sleep if it doesn’t):
– Work related to Dilvia
– Workout for at least 30 min.
– Reading a book for at least 30 min.
– Be there for one of my friends who needed support
Sazan: Her last point is so true. She provides psych-social support to like a billion girls; Facebook, over the phone, on text messages or in face-to-face meetings. I mean it. Every. Single. Day.
Mandalawi: Your source of support? What or who keeps you going?
Shan: For me it’s basically my close friends… they are the only people in my life who supported me in my dreams… unfortunately.
and also some books and writers like Paulo Coelho and Stephen Covey.
Sazan: Why she says unfortunately? Long story.
Mandalawi: What challenges do you face in what you do?
Shan: My first challenge was my family…because they thought it was a waste of time and money, and it’s quite dangerous for me in to do so…
It is not like they didn’t want me to support but in our country its so frightening for a young girl to mingle and get in close relation with a lot of strangers and having people know you in the society is super challenging… according to them “it’s a bad a thing”
The other challenges was people misunderstand my intention.. or paper-work challenges in getting access to people in need… but thank god non of the challenges were so serious that it stopped me from preceding.
Sazan: Her challenges with her family five years back reflects the challenges many Kurdish girls may face in this society.
Mandalawi: How do you deal with those challenges
Shan: after all.. my family gave up on stopping me after a lot of fighting and in a way or another now they are supporting me ….how I deal with them?…. I actually cry! But I never surrender … a lot of time I was working with tears all over the place but I never stopped working ….
Sazan: Who was it that said tears are signs of strength? And remember Shanoo “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.” And we all know how colourful and bright your soul is.
Mandalawi: Anything we should keep an eye on? Future plans/ projects?
Shan: Plans for Dilvia (my passion engine):
– Facilitate the donation ways for whom want to help
– Help the IDPs and refugees to survive this crisis until they go safely home
– Support the peshmarge families in this hard war times
– Encourage the youth to serve more in their society and improve their country
Mandalawi: Three dreams in your life
Shan: Although I don’t like specific dreams… the sky is the limit for my ambition but if I have to put them in three lines it would be
– Make dilvia international and have access to all the people in need
– Be a living example of a young girl that nothing could stop her from fighting and fingerprint her life (for all the girls who think they can’t help in this world)
– Improve my fitness and health to be in a level of an athlete
Mandalawi: Any advice for other girls in Kurdistan
Shan: I advice them all to believe in themselves… the only bounderies is only found in our minds … I thought it was only a nice-speech line.. but its not… I know it … put your priority to your dreams and passions… don’t listen to the stupid restrictions… they will all fade away in front of your will… you deserve to live your life with passion, so do it.. just DO IT… we can add beauty to our grace country… and its getting to a higher place so take your chance and participate in this upcoming developement…. you will regret it if you don’t…
Sazo I wasn’t brief at all …. I won’t blame you if you won’t read it but I really enjoyed this … I was smiling all the time
Sazan: I read every single word Shanoo. And I have decided to keep it all the same. Just like you wrote it. It’s you!
We will need hours for Shan to speak of her endless challenges. Maybe an 8 am visit in her family living room on a Ramadan morning. I take this opportunity to apologize for that very insensitive act, but we laugh it off now when ever we remember.
No words can describe Shan. She is just Shan. The girl you call, but her phone is always busy, then she calls you back, and is ready to say: “Let’s meet in an hour” no matter when and where.
Until next Wednesday night Shan is the hero of the week, the month, the year, the hero in the life of all of us who know her, and all those she helps without even realizing!
Pictures: All photos for this blog post were stolen by me from Shan’s Instagram, Facebook and here and there (with full permission. I swear.)