Sidad, grade 12, and his mum

It was late winter afternoon, very early this year. I complained to a very dear friend, Saza “I can’t study, I have too much going on in life to sit and focus.” Obviously, I said this in an hour conversation, but this was the gist of it all.

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Sidad, photo: Asuda Rwandzi, Location: Book Cafe- Erbil

The next day Saza asked if I wanted to meet Sidad.

You see, I have heard of Sidad for years. But with all my visits to the orphanage in Erbil Sidad was only a name everyone referred to. I knew he loved books, he was determined to achieve a lot in his life, and every single child in the orphanage loves Sidad. That’s all I knew.

Of course, I agree to meet. However, I must also agree to Saza’s list of conditions: “We can’t stay too long, he must study. We will go during his study break. You know what, let’s go tomorrow, he has a heavy mathematics study session today.”

Sidad’s study area, in one of the rooms in Mali Xanda, during our winter visit

When I nervously enter Sidad’s world my mouth drops. I am intrigued. First, I am ashamed of myself, my study excuses, and my complaints. Then I am inspired. It felt like listening to the most inspiring TED talk in the world, except I saw it right infront of me without him saying a single word.

Caught by Saza’s camera here.

Colourful post-its for key notes. Just like how my friend Saza reads. Different colour pens and highlighters each assigned with its own duties. Just like Saza’s pencil case. Inspirational quotes and motivating words written by his own handwriting then placed neatly on the wall. Just like Saza’s wall of quotes at home.

Books are neatly stacked. Dreams beautifully written. The holy book, quran, sitting on his table. And a timetable of every minute of his day all planed out, if that’s not enough there is also an alarm clock. Not on his phone, but an actual alarm clock. Probably just like the one Saza has. I observe her touch and influence in every corner of this room.

Sidad here was showing Saza where he is up to in one his subjects.

He offers us sweets out of his cupboard, hidden only for special guests. I doubt that it’s me who is special, but Saza who has come to visit. The photos of football victory on his walls, the smell of sleepless nights, stress and determination– I take note of it all, then: “Damn he is so tidy!”

During the past year I saw Saza dress in a motherly fashion to attend his parent-teacher nights. She asked about Sidad more than any mother in his grade, followed up with every little detail of studies and above all believed in him.

That cold winter evening, I left Sidad’s world with a new outlook to life. Of course, I couldn’t meet him again because his schedule was so crammed. However, in his 25-minute study break Sidad, the boy who spent all his life in the Erbil orphanage, taught me more about hopes, dreams and ambitions than any TED talk I have listened to, any book I have read and any idol I look up to.

Sidad is exceptional. No one can take credit for his accomplishment but himself. When I ask Sidad for permission to write about him, he replies, “sure, but please mention my mum. From the first breath of grade 12 to the last she was by my side. It felt like she was also a twelfth grader with me, she sacrificed and gave a lot so I can reach where I am today,” By mum he means my friend Saza.

Sidad calls Saza daya, she calls him Kurm.

Their story is one that touches my heart. It just shows how far one can go in life, if only someone believes in them.


Every child in the orphanage can look up to Sidad and know there is hope in their life. However, sadly, not every child has a Saza keeping an eye on them from near and far.

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Sidad, photo by the lovely Asuda Rwandzi, Location: Book Cafe- Erbil

I dedicate this post to a person who dedicates her life to those around her. She is not just a mother to Sidad, but a mother to all those around her. Saza gyan, I watched you from far during this entire journey, I am proud of you beyond words. Thank you!

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Sidad: “To stay motivated I used to study with an architect’s hat on my head…”

As for Sidad, I am so proud of you, and your determination. You give me motivation to chase my dreams. My friend, or shall I say dearest nephew, just know a woman more than a decade older looks up to you and is inspired by your young, but very tough journey. For I know your childhood experiences are living with you.

Lots of love from

My Nest in Kurdistan



2 thoughts on “Sidad, grade 12, and his mum

  1. Sidad is one if the greatest terms than ever explained ‘ hope’ to me. And well done sazan gyan you wrote it in way that could leave everyone in tears 💜


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