Do you have your chai ready? I am back with Dastan & Eman’s interview, as promised. You can read the quick interaction right here.
These two Kurdish girls are best recognized for their international awards in the invention of the bomb detecting system- smart, right?! They did this at a time of their life where everyone around them told them off for doing so. I remember the first time I met the girls at the preparation stages of their TEDxErbil talk, one of them got a call from home “Where are you? Come back! You are wasting time again” It didn’t take a few minutes till the other also got a call from a family member, “Come and study.” I listened to the girl’s replies on the phones. I realized right then and there these two face A LOT of challenges and will continue to.
When Dastan was able to make it to one of the international competitions for their projects (Eman couldn’t travel with her), she called Eman: “A company wants to buy our idea, what do you say?” After their phone conversation, both girls agreed they won’t sell their project, instead bring it home, to Kurdistan, and make it owned by Kurdistan. “We promised to give it to our people and community free of charge,” they said. During the media frenzy around the girls and their idea, without support and guidance, the idea was unfortunately
taken stolen. But their ideas don’t just stop at the bomb detection system, these girls have pages and pages of drawings, brainstorms and implementation stages of so many other inventions. They are young role models in a field that men find it difficult to succeed it, let alone young girls.
Enough of me, let’s hear from the girls themselves.
Mandalawi: You have genius minds way above your age, how old are you?
Dastan & Eman: We are both 19!
Mandalawi: Congratulations!! A 94% and a full 100% in your final grade 12 exams. Now that school is over, what will you study?
Dastan & Eman: Well for studying of course we both would love to get into a uni for technology and innovations which is not available here. So instead last year we both discussed that we have the talent to draw… it was our dream years ago to be architects! Most of our ideas for projects we draw to give a visualization to people.
However, both our parents prefer we enter medicine and dentistry, like other Kurdish parents. This makes us very hopeless thinking that all our ideas would go to graveyard with us. We might save people if we enter medicine/dentistry and provide people a good health, we dont’ have any bad comments about being a doctor but since we both have the ability and talent to bring about a positive change to our community in anther field, we prefer to study what we love- engineering. We still need to persuade our families though.
Eman: Yet again there is no blame of why our parents don’t prefer engineering or architecture it has been 2 months I am just searching to find very successful kurdish female architects who get the opportunity to really design buildings, but I haven’t found any! They say big companies here don’t appreciate the work of female architects, or its hard for a female to excel in this field here. Basically there aren’t many people encouraging us for this.
Mandalawi: What are you most disappointed about?
Dastan & Eman: People that promised us last year to help us to improve our projects by providing us with the facilities we need. They were all empty promises. We don’t just want out projects to be seen, recognized, get media attention and then nothing. We want our projects to be implemented, make an impact and be used. That is our dream.
There were others who were against all our hard work for projects, saying that we just get exhausted and no one believes in us. Many close people to us say you are just wasting your time trying to do something in this country. We hope to prove them wrong… though it’s hard sometimes.
When youth are not good role models in our community they say our youth aren’t committed in doing good work but when we do, in the media we get lots of comments like “bravo you are the pride of Kurdistan” but 1 month later nothing changes.
Mandalawi: What is the main challenge you face?
Dastan & Eman: Not having capable labs and equipment was always our barrier as well as being told “Stop delaying your studies and following that project thing that takes you nowhere,” We heard this a lot from family, friends and in particular our own parents.
Asides from this, we are girls, from normal Kurdish families. Our parents want us to be good girls, become doctors and that’s about it. We don’t feel those around us believe in us, so it’s a lonely journey most of the time. But we are determined.
Mandalawi: What are you busy with now?
Dastan & Eman: Now that we finished high school, there is more time to do what we enjoy doing. We’re working on it right now, to open a research group and gather outstanding youth, to help improve and implement our ideas. Both of us together, with other youth, hand in hand, we are sure we can do achieve something. Make an impact.
Actually we’re trying to get funds–if we’re lucky, we plan to open a lab by July. You know, we don’t have labs here. Sazan, the politicians and decision makers are busy with the unstable political and economic issues that our country is facing now, priority is not given to the little things like innovation, and building the capacity of youth, which is understandable; This just means we have to work extra hard and do many things ourselves without support.
Besides our daily researches about our work and discovering the best career for us we also work with Global Shapers Community – Erbil Hub of World Economic Forum, there we try to give life to some of our projects.
Mandalawi: What do you say to other girls your age, who may have similar talents?
Dastan & Eman: Our message for other girls who would love to get involved in this field is: Always keep trying! We were always told by our teacher to give up on such hard projects that could only be done by those who have worked with bombs but our aim was set to save humanity. Never ask yourself how, or where do I start, you might suddenly get something in your head while watching tv or walking in the street, just grab your laptop and start researching. If it hasn’t been done, start doing it over and over until you get something unique. The journey is never ever easy, but thinking you can bring about a change makes it all worth while.
Mandalawi: What are you dreams?
Dastan & Eman: Our dream for now is to improve the technology criteria in Kurdistan by making this group research to help provide facilities to the youth to share their ideas with each other. Each young person has a unique talent and together we can start a very active generation that help Kurdistan as it’s developing!
We focus on projects that will have a great impact on the people as well as the community. We might seem young, but what we as young students are capable of can change alot!
Mandalawi: Thank you! I am a big fan!
The minds of these two best friends work like nobel winning scientists! In fact, I believe one day the two Kurdish girls and best friends, Dastan and Eman, will be recognized for great inventions that change Kurdistan, and the world.
Until next time lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan