Dec 6, 2012

A Strange Conversation with a Stranger

I am still thinking of the odd chat I had this morning with a Taxi Driver on the way to Shorsh Street to see some friends. Like Paulo Coelho says, "there are signs everywhere, you just need to open your eyes to see them" I have always believed in this, today's conversation with the driver was one of those signs.

The Taxi Driver was an old man, perhaps in his 80s. His features were as strange as the conversation we had. He was bald, but had a white beard, well-built and had a strange look on his face.

Here is how our strange conversation started:

Driver: welcome daughter, where do you want me to take you?
Me: Shorsh Street.
Driver: You are from Suly, aren't you?
Puzzled I seem, (Not that I speak Suly) I stop for a moment, then I reply "No, I am from this city, but I have lived my childhood in Suly"
Driver: See, I knew.
I don't say anything because I am surprised.

Then he starts talking about Politics as if he knows I am interested in the topic. He brings  various of matters about Kurdistan, and its relations with Baghdad, and I listen tentatively to his wise words. Sometimes he stops and asks questions, like a teacher testing his student and I try to choose the right words to answer them because I am afraid that all this might be just part of a game to kidnap me (for some reason I don't trust Taxi drivers).

Then he tells me that life is a very strange place, I ask him how strange, and he tells me it's all about a game. He tells me about his life, and how much he has suffered, but never gave up, and never will. He says he is as old as the city. He tells me if I want to live, I need to know how to fight for life.

We stop in the traffic  and then he looks back and he asks me to look to the car beside us, and I do. I see a white BMW with four young men inside the car. They look at us and they start throwing comments. I frown at them  and then I turn my head because I am irritated by their comments. He tells me what I think of them, and I say they are only group of amateurs who are willing to take actions without complete thoughts. He laughs and he says that I am wrong and I ask him what he means. He says they are precisely the people who aren't what they appear to be and that things are not always what they seem. He tells me if he steps out of the car and goes to talk to them, they will probably end up kissing his hand and apologizing for their inappropriate manners.

He asks about what I do and I tell him that I work and study. He surprises me by saying how much he likes to be my driver to take me to work every morning. And I am now even more terrified of him because I am still afraid that his intentions are not good despite his white beard.

We reach Shorsh Street, I pay him money and I step out of the car,  "I will pray God to always protect you my daughter" he says.
 I close the door, and he drives away.

I stand on the street and gaze as  he disappears in the distance, and I realize he meant everything he said to me.

Today, 6. 12. 2012. A day to remember.

Aug 13, 2012


Only when I believe, I can achieve.

As I take myself back a year and a half, to when I was walking on the streets of this city with no hope of the world in my heart, a glimpse of sad days passes in front of my eyes like a movie.

A year and a half ago, on a day like this, I was walking the streets from university to home. That day wasn’t a normal day or a normal walk.

While walking, I felt I was carrying troubles of the whole world on my shoulders. My steps were too weak, my hands shivering and I was stumbling.

Looking at the road of my life ahead, it appeared empty. Nothing was clear, even the future was vague and frightening. I was helpless.

I walked a mile and that’s when I saw an old man seated on the side of the road, gardening the streets like an artist sketching his own future with a joyful smile on his face. I wished I was in his place doing exactly what he was doing; perhaps living my life among flowers would make it a bit exciting, I thought.

I wished to be anywhere and anyone that day, other than where and who I was.

I carried in my heart broken dreams and unfulfilled wishes.

However, I kept walking.

I arrived home, safe and secure. After hours of thinking, I decided to make a choice.

I wrote two of my dreams on a piece of paper and buried them under a rock close to my home, promising that I would not go back to them until the day I turned them into reality.

And I walked away from them that day, with a heart that truly believed, with a slither of hope inside.

Time passed quickly, day after day waiting for something, for a sign that something good was going to happen and possibly I would make one of the dreams come true. But still there was nothing.

There were days I felt down, and moments when I gave up on trying. But there was still something within me, something was still igniting and lightening my heart like a small candle burning.

It was hope.

Days ago, I finally received the news. My dream has finally come true.

Perchance the dream I had is so important to me that I am unable to share it with the rest of the world. Yet that is not the end of it.

After all the hard times, all the curves and turns, and after the dream turned into reality, my conclusions about this journey have changed. I have learnt a lesson that for me is a lot more significant than the dream itself.

I have learnt that, when a heart truly believes and doesn’t know defeat, hope and merely hope can sometimes help one through the complicated and unfair journey called life.

I went back to the paper, I took it from under the rock and brought it home to where it belongs among my possessions.

Today I can walk again, on the same street, the same person, with my head up and my shoulders back in the confidence. I can look at the old man still there gardening my city; but this time it’s just going to be me, walking with a hopeful heart and with my second dream.

For Kurdistan Tribune

Jul 26, 2012

Welcome to Kurdistan Nature

If you are a Kurd or you have ever came across Kurdistan as a sightseers, then you must be familiarized with the fact that there is nothing more beautiful than the nature of Kurdistan.

The mountains standing firm with pride, the green lands, and the blue rivers take your breath away.

I have always believed that nature is the best cure for almost everything. If you are sad, bored from everyday life, and tired, go to a village, spend time with nature. Eat fresh baked bread, yogurt and tea in the morning. Go and climb the mountains, stand on the peaks and shout as loud as you can, say whatever you want the world to hear you saying. Watch the women as they manage to clean the house, cook, and farm side by side with their husbands. Listen to the stories old men tell every evening after dinner as they gather in circles to talk about interesting anecdotes of the old times. Stay late at night and stare at the sky as the moon shines upon you, surrounded by little stars as bright as they could ever be.

In the heart of nature, you realize the true meaning of a genuine life; far from the noise of the city, a simple peaceful life. Nature teaches you a lot more than you can ever imagine. It teaches you patience, it teaches you how to stay well connected with your spirit. It gives you strength, it prepares you for hardships and just like seasons,  it teaches you adaption.

And so I had the honor of experiencing little of all this with my Ruwayda and Nawroz, and kak Yad yesterday on a trip to different villages near by Hawler, capital of Kurdistan.

We didn't stay over for the night, neither did we stay in one particular village for long. What we did was spending a few hours in each village, introducing ourselves as a small organization. The purpose of the trip was to talk to locals, to get them sign up for the Child Benefit Campaign.

If you haven't heard of this campaign, then you need to know that the aim of the campaign is to propose to the government the idea of providing an amount of money (Salary) to each and every Kurdish child (under age 18) regardless to social classes. Ruwayda came up with this magnificent project.

Luckily, we were welcomed warmly in every house we knocked on the door. We had the pleasure of not only enjoying the spectacular view of the country-side, but also to get to know the locals and listen to their stories.

Going inside one of the villages.
Nature is leading here..

Cattle! hehe :)
You will just love the hospitality of majority in the villages.

He was guiding us to his house
In one of the house, explaining the purpose of the campaign.

I guess most of the pictures speak for themselves.
I loved the view from here.
Kak Yad, filming the kids. He was asking them to say their name and age out loud.
Look at her eyes,she is too beautiful.
This little girl was too funny.
Her name is Xanda, we were asking her to say her full name for some reason she kept saying her fathers name instead. We laughed so much about this. 
I like this one.
Photos taken by Nawroz. 

Jul 15, 2012

The little me :)

Have you been to one of those moments when you wanted so bad to remember yourself when you were little?

Perhaps many of us have been there, and I am not exceptional.

I have always been keen to the stories of my own childhood, I still listen to my sisters and parents passionately when they sit and talk about the little me, and I try hard to picture myself in accordance with the stories I hear. 

Since we have moved countless times, from one city to another because of political reasons, we have lost all the individual and family pictures. The only photos we have now, are the ones taken after 2004 when we moved back to Hawler.

It wouldn't be a lie if I said I would feel tremendously jealous when I would see a childhood picture of someone; wishing I had it too.

There were times, when I would sit and close my eyes trying to remember what I was like, and the things I liked most back then. But, that never was an easy task to me, as my life has always been very adventurous and things have always been changing rapidly that keeping count of the things wasn't easy at all.  A typical Kurdish life. 

Until a few days ago.

Last week, my sister  asked me & my siblings to help her with moving. And so at her place, I found the treasure of my childhood, something I have been wishing to have very long ago.  

While I was looking at the photos of my sister with my niece during the times when she was a college student (that's like some 20 years ago) and laughing out loud at her and how funny she looked, I found two of my photos in one of her old photo albums.

Me, who always have been wishing secretly in my heart to have a photo of my childhood, have finally found it! 

May be to many people, a picture doesn't mean much, but to me it certainly means everything. I believe this is why they are called picture, because they picture the memories, and what if the memory was a Kurdish one with so many hidden stories?

Like they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words" , to me the two childhood pictures I have found now are worth the whole world. 

Thanks to my lovely sister, now my childhood memories are complete. I can't wait to show them to my children in the future. :)

You might now wonder why is it my sister still have her old photos with her, but the rest of the family don't. Because my sister got married long ago and so she didn't have to go through countless journeys with the rest of the family. She was left with her husband at her home safe & secure, unlike so many Kurdish families.  

P.S. The two pictures carry within them so many precious stories, perhaps political ones as well, about love, Kurdish struggle and hope; that I hope someday I will speak for them with the amount of love and care they deserve to have. 
Me when I'm five years old
The woman behind me is my sister, she used to be like a mother to me.

Me & my brother Shallaw.
I think I am seven in this picture. 

Jul 13, 2012

And we all walked out with important lessons..

Sitting on the dusty floor at my sister's house, in the kitchen, very tired back from the last day of the workshop, and still writing about this beautiful experience I had at the workshop.

I was supposed to update my blog yesterday, but then I received a call from my sister asking me to go to her house to help her. They are moving to a new house, and so a part of this blog is written while I was at her house, and the other part right now. :)

The workshop started Tuesday 10th of July. It was basically about women empowerment and teaching Multimedia. I was one of the trainers with three other trainers (Kazhal, Bewar, and Salim).

I have participated in many workshops, and every time I walked out, something was left inside me. In every workshop, you learn something new, you meet another activist, you listen to a new story and you come up  with a new idea.

I was very happy to help in teaching around 20 young girls from Salahadeen university about different programs and social networking.

This time, the experience was different, unlike other experiences I had in other workshops.

I have always knew that there are many people in my community with no education about many things, with acknowledgement that education is not merely what we study at school and universities.

In this workshop, I met those who have never heard of the term 'Computer', I met those who have never used E-mail before or had any knowledge about Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, some basic programs we use almost everyday in this modern world.

The workshop was consisting of two sessions, first was teaching soft and hardware programs and how to use social networkings, Like Twitter, Facebook, and teaching them everything they need to know about E-mail.

The second was leadership and keys to success.

The sessions started as the following;

First Day: Since I was sick, I wasn't present at the workshop, but basically our program for them was discussions about leadership run by Bewar & Kazhal.
Bewar, explaining important terms.
Kazhal, leading the discussion.
Second Day: The program was shifted from leadership to Multimedia. We started by creating E-mail for each participants. Then we created Facebook accounts and Twitter for some.
Since I am aware of the problems occurring nowadays because of misuse of social networkings in general and Facebook in particular due to lack of education about them, we were determined to teach them to use it the right way and for the right purpose. I was told horrible stories happened on FB from the participants because of misusing it. I know for the fact that this is a serious problem in Kurdistan and perhaps in many other parts of the world, that a lot of people need to be educated about. 

The session also covered some software programs like Microsoft word, Excel and PowerPoint. The girls were very happy to learn them for the first time in their lives. 

Salim, while explaining the importance of social networkings.

Kazhal, while explaining PowerPoint presentation 
One of the participants.
Little breaks: you always experience those beautiful moments during each break when you get the chance to talk to the participants and listen to the stories they have to tell.

During the breaks. 
Preparations for a new session.
Third day & the last: We spent the third day teaching some untaught software programs, in addition of explaining something I find tremendously important which is 'Keys to success'.

We discussed the importance of terms like Positive spirit, motivations and efforts, originality and creativity, and time management, things most of us fail to preserve. I enjoyed listening to the different views the girls had about those terms and how to keep them alive.  
Keys to success.
During the last session.
And so I had the pleasure of meeting those young ladies and teaching them things they have never been taught before. I'm very glad that I had the chance to listen to their stories and give them a piece of advice anytime needed to help them with their problems. I take pride in  being part of something new in their lives. I am hoping after this workshop, they will walk out with something valuable, and do great things which I am sure they are capable of. I hope this will be the a first step towards a new trend of their lives.

Special thanks goes to UKH for helping us by all means.

And of course Kazhal, who did more than great in arranging almost everything, and in keeping up with the girls.
Bewar, for making sure that everything was going smooth & inspiring the girls. And Salim, for his patience and dedication in teaching the participants.

Shno, for helping Kazhal with everything, she was also one of the participants.

Naz,  Hilda, & Frmesk, for dedicating their time for the workshop.

And thank you IYLEP for sponsoring & funding the workshop. 

Yes you did it girls!

Certainly after every great occasion, there must be tea time with my loyal friends. That's how I celebrate my success. 

Bewar, Tavga, & I having tea. :)

Jul 5, 2012

Together, we walked towards their dreams..

And this is how I spent  4th of July...
Breakfast: Since  as usual I woke up late in the morning and   I was very excited about the trip, I didn't get the chance to have breakfast at home or even make a sandwich for myself. lucky me digging in my bag, I found this biscuit, and it served me just well.  
early in the morning in the car, having my so called "breakfast".

Writing my column: The next move was writing my column for Kurdistan Tribune for the upcoming Sunday.  I was alone in the cafe, which gave me time to think and write peacefully. And of course the writing wouldn't be complete without Tea! :)
Always writing..
The noon:  As I was waiting for Bewat to be prepared so we can join the girls at the orphanage, I thought I should paint something on the white board for Bewar (As I always call her my Mada) very few know what Mada means though. :)

Not so bad right?
At the Orphanage: Yes, finally we were there at the orphanage. We did our best to enjoy the atmosphere before we head to the Erbil International Airport.

Ruwayda, Sazan & the kids. Everyone is waiting for a phone call from EIA
Tea Time: Since I didn't have a proper breakfast, nor lunch, me and Bewar went to Eqbal, a cafe near by the orphanage on Shorsh Street (My favorite street) to have a sandwich and tea while everyone was still at the orphanage waiting. Yes, I was very hungry and so was Bewar.

On the way to EIA: I was very pleased to talk to the kids and how they have felt in the bus before we go to see the planes. And I laughed hard at the funny thoughts from the kids about the plane. True moments..

Some singing national anthem, and some writing "Thank you" letters to the staff in the airport.
Erbil International Airport: Finally, around three we arrived to the airport. We were just a few minutes away from their dream. We shared them moments of happiness inside, and fear. But together we made it. And it was worth it all.

Entering the airport

Looking at the planes outside

In the mini van, heading to the plane.
Together, we walked towards their dream..
And we are going inside! 
And everyone is seated. How cool is that? :)

Everyone is tired. Water!
Yup, we are getting ready back to the orphanage after a wonderful trip to EIA.
Heading back to the orphanage: After the fabulous trip to the EIA, we took moments to reflect on the trip in the  bus. Everyone was tired, but we were all able to share stories and laugh out loud until we were home.
In the bus, going back to the orphanage.
Before going home, at Bakery & More, Bewar, Ruwayda, Sazan, & I having "Zaetar & cheese"  It was really good.
Also Blogging about our trip.

Now, I want to take a moment to thank everyone in the Erbil International Airport for making this day happen. With their help, we made a dream come true. Thank you for everything.

Thank you Bewar Rwandzi, Sazan Mandalawi, and Ruwayda Mustafa for being so great and inspiring to me and the kids. 

Thank you little kids for the happiness you bring to our hearts each and every moment. 

And of course, thank you everyone on Twitter, with your attitudes and opinions, you lifted our spirits. 

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you..

Jun 27, 2012

Victims of a 17th century mentality

A female village dweller. She is a little girl, in the body of a woman.

When I was a child, I had a very broad imagination. I had big dreams and ambitions. I remember I used to stand in the center of the road and open my arms wide to tell my friends how big the road was, comparing my big world and dreams to the size of the road. Many little girls that I used to spend time with were pretty much same as me, with outsized imaginings and ambitions.

I grew up; I finished my university course just months ago. I have accomplished a number of my childhood dreams. Yet many of those who shared their dreams with me on that very same road did not.
Time and fate detached me from many people. Among them, when I moved to Sulaymania with my family, was Hozan, a daughter of my father’s cousin

I remember, back in 2002, when my brother, mother and I paid a visit to Hawler to see some relatives and among them was Mam Abdulla, Hozan’s father.

Mam Abdullah is a villager; he lives in one of the villages nearby Hawler. Mam Abdulla has two wives; Hozan is the oldest daughter from the first wife.

On my way to Hozan’s place in the car, I had a very pleasant anticipation of meeting a childhood friend again. All the way I was looking around the beautiful valleys covered up with green grass along with hills located each side of the road. I was already planning in my head what to do, what games I should play when I met Hozan once again, just like we used to do when we were little girls, unconscious that Hozan was never going to be the same.

When I met Hozan, she immediately embraced me tight and kissed me on the cheeks. I was astonished by her beauty – long black hair hung on her shoulders, wide, black expressive eyes and natural pinky lips.
Hozan was only 13 back then.

Looking at Hozan, something was not right. She was no longer that little girl I used to play with. What had changed? I couldn’t tell. But a trait of sadness was noticeable on her face.

I left Hozan that day, never to see her again. When I looked back, to wave with my hands and say goodbye, I could see tears filling her black eyes, those pearls of eyes hiding in them a million “never to be fulfilled “wishes. I thought it was tears of goodbye, unaware of what was waiting for Hozan.
Hozan was about to get married to her cousin at the age of 13.

10 years have passed and, just a few days ago, I heard that she had given birth to her second child.
Time took me back to that exact same day in 2002, when we were having lunch at Hozan’s house in their village. A flash of memories played back and I remembered the moment when, unexpectedly, she said, “I wish I had your life.”

Hozan did not have the chance to choose her future husband or to choose her life. She never had the chance to go to school; nor the chance to enjoy her childhood. Soon she found herself living a life prepared for her by her father and brothers.

This is a typical life for many female villagers whose marriage and future are determined by the decision others make for them. Their lives are planned the day they open their eyes to this world.

I sit back, after hearing this tear-jerking news, and wonder. How many others, like Hozan, must be victims of a 17th century mentality? Some people just fail to travel in time.

This piece was published in Kurdistan Tribune.

Jun 21, 2012

Sharing is caring..

Little differences, but they leave in the heart biggest impressions.

That exactly, describes my special day with the most amazing little faces and friends at Mali Xanda. June 20, 2012 is a day to remember forever. 

Sazan, Ruwayda, Nawroz, and I were able to deliver the largest amount of presents so far to the kids at the orphanage through donations made outside Kurdistan. And hopefully, the number will increase even more by the coming year due to your dedication out and inside Kurdistan.

 I am not going to say much in a day like this; therefore, I will go directly to share with you some photos speaking for some precious moments.

The photos are taken, in other words stolen :)  from Sazan's Twitter, (Unfortunately, due to excitement, I forgot completely to take my camera with me!). 

 Special thanks to all the Kurds and everyone else in every corner of this world for bringing about joy, laugher, and smile to the face and the  heart of those kids. Your efforts are highly appreciated. Thank you for sharing, for caring and for donating your time and money for this event, for this cause and for the sake of a better Kurdistan. 

And certainly a special thanks goes to Ruwayda, for putting her enormous efforts in informing the outside world about those the orphans at Mali Xanda and facilitating the event. She is great!

Ruwayda opening the boxes.

Sorting out the presents.
More presents. Do you realize how happy the kids were to see these presents? 
After sorting out the presents, heading to hand them to the kids.

More photos to come soon. 

Jun 15, 2012

An insight into an Artist's world

What if you wake up after hours of conscientiousness, to see nothing but darkness everywhere and to discover that everyone around you is silent?

During my journey in life, I have met many of those who have made differences, big and small, to many lives. some have directed others by taking their hands and walking all the way through the journey with them; some by giving a piece of advise; and some, by just evoking their stories, left the biggest impression.  

Many of them do not really realized how much they touch people's lives. 

I was lucky enough to come across an Artist, thorough one of my instructors, and through her story I am able today to deliver a vital message. 

I had the pleasure to meet Aftaw in her house and have tea with her and her humble family. 
Aftaw was born in 1986, in Hawler. Her vibrant childhood and bright world was suddenly changed to darkness when she lost both her sight and her hearing in a car accident. 

Despite her silent world, Aftaw's willpower has propelled her life beyond that of an ordinary person's. Aftaw is not only an Artist but also a 'change-maker', something most individuals fail to accomplish.

I was able to communicate with Aftaw through her sister Alan, who has become her voice. Amazingly, in spite of her deafbliness, Aftaw is able to use a sign language with her sister Alan. 
Aftaw refused to talk about the car accident, nor about how it happened, except for when she woke up the next day in the hospital and, to her surprise, she found out that she was deafblind. 
Aftaw while making crafts. 
To remember me, Aftaw made sure to touch my face and hair tenderly with her fingertips. Soon afterwards she grabbed my hand and smiles as a sign of welcome to her home. A sense of revelation shot from my head to my toes. And in that instant, I grasped a self-effecting spirit in Aftaw's being.

Aftaw loves colors, she wears colorful dresses all the time, and she loves meeting new people. But what Aftaw loves most is making crafts. According to he sister Alan, she spends hours in her room and her institute just making crafts. To Aftaw it is a way of expressing feelings of resentment, sorrow and even happiness. 
An example of Aftaw's handicrafts. 
Aftaw was persistent to speak about her hero-the teacher who a few years ago saved Aftaw's life and prepared her for her future. Her teache was relentless that Aftaw should learn craft-making, despite that Aftaw never had any interest before, and her deafbliness would make it even harder for her to learn much.  

After years of learning, now Aftaw teaches other deafblind kids in the deafblindness institute. Aftaw is determined to save these kids who are suffering from cultural skepticism due to their deafblindness. She is determined to motivate them and help them find their own passion in the art of handicrafts. She is determined to deliver a message to society as a whole.
Aftaw has become a role model for the kids she teaches in her institute, they all look up to her, hoping that someday they will also become people of value. Her attitude and confidence is transforming their lives.  

Leaving Aftaw, and I remain with an unanswered question. Apart from all the things I have heard from her family, apart from what her family already knows about Aftaw, apart from the answers that I have recieved, apart from how complete Aftaw is with het life. Does Aftaw hide in her modest heart a secret wish to see and hear again? I can't tell. 

This piece was published in Kurdistan Tribune.

May 1, 2012

The Voice Behind the Walls

At the end, I was able to answer the vaguest question I had during my childhood.

When I was a child, there were a lot of things I couldn't understand and like any other child, I was always wondering about them. I had million questions in my mind that I either didn't have someone to answer them for me or I was anxious to ask.

I used to write down the questions on a piece of paper. I would often remind myself when I grow old I will be able to find some answers. For me they were a thousand puzzles to figure out.

But one matter that stuck in my mind all through years of childhood and adolescence was kids being completely unobserved by parents. The reason why I was so passionate about this was the fact that I had a friend from Sulyamania, whose father has abandoned her when she was just a little girl.

I did not know about any of this at the beginning of our friendship, but I have always been curious why she never mentioned anything about her father to me or any of the girls.

I just thought her father might have been dead, but never really wanted to ask her. I guess I was afraid that I might remind her of something painful.

Until one day in winter, my friend and I were walking back home. All the way, we were talking about family importance and parents' love to their kids. I could feel that something about all that was bothering her. It was in that cold day, when she told me all about her family and the man who has broken her heart in the early years of her life, that man was her dad.

I never knew how she might have felt that day; I was too young to feel her pain. But now when I think about her, I know how it felt.

I will share with you, some of her painful memories.

While she was talking about her secret life at home, tears were rolling down her cheeks; it was the life that she had been hiding behind the walls of their house for so many years.

She told me during the years when her father was still living with them; she had to watch her drunken father while assaulting her mother every night. She told me when her father was living with them; they had to eat a piece of dry bread every day. There were days, she had to beg to feed her small siblings.

Yes, she told me she had to watch her dad as he gets married to another woman. And in his wedding, she had to shed tears while he was laughing out loud. She told me about her wishes, about the vague world that she had in her mind that she couldn’t even dream of reaching it.

I remember she told me once she saw her dad in her uncle’s home, but her dad wouldn’t even look at her or say hi to her.

I did not understand, I kept thinking about her dad. Me, who have been always fond of my own father, I couldn’t even imagine how it would be like to be in her place. I can't tell how she survived all these years, how she handled all this pain inside.

At the end, I was able to answer the vaguest question I had during my childhood, yet the answer brought distress to my heart. I know and sure there are millions of other kids like her.

I have lost touch with this dear friend the day I left Suly and came back to Erbil. She has been my friend for three years. Yet, I haven't seen or heard anything about her for eight years. I remember her face clearly like she never grew old.

But, now I know her dad leaving them in the early years of her life, wasn't a tragedy to her and her family, but blessing from God.

Mar 29, 2012

A Special Day at the Orphanage

A few days ago, I was sitting alone trying to put a few words on paper, and thinking about my niece and nephews, those who mean the world to me, those who add colors to my world. Almost most of them live far away from me so I don’t get the chance to see them growing day after day.

I missed them so much, so to feel better I started writing poetry "The Small Voices" about my niece and nephew, and happily it did work.

Luckily beside writing, I have a remedy for this problem in particular. It's my special place and special little buddies, those whom I consider my other niece and nephews, those who are taking a very special place in my heart; they are the little kids living at the orphanage.

Speaking about children, today afternoon with friends, Bewar and Nawroz we visited that special place called the "orphanage". In my dictionary, it's the place of the shining little stars.

Typically of course we had to suffer a bit with them, but even the pain is sweet.

After a long walk on Shorsh Street, my favorite street in Hawler, with Bewar and Nawroz while drops of rain were falling down, smoothly hitting the ground in the sunny day, and the breeze touching our face, we made it to Mali Xanda orphanage.

I have to admit that someone's place was missing, the picture would have completed perfectly if Saz was with us!

We had the chance to meet the older ones and talk about some of the difficulties they have with school. The good news is, my university, university of Kurdistan-Hawler is planning to initiate "Sunshine homework club" which will start next week. This club is made of volunteers of both UKH staff and student, and happily I'm part of it.

We as group of volunteers will visit the kids every Thursday afternoon to help them with their studies, plus doing some activities like sports, music, story-telling, arts, etc.

The kids were very happy with the idea, seems like we will have a good time teaching. :)

The best part like always is the part when I go to see my little buddies Daroon, Ala, Esra, Aya, Hama, and others. There isn't a time that I just didn’t love every second of spending time with them! Everything about them is special, their big smiles, their tiny little bodies, their small voices, the way they dress, the way they talk, and how about their naughtiness?!

Aya is number one naughty among them, when I see her, I just don't know exactly what to save! My bag? My glasses? My phone? Or my camera?! I can't tell..

 She wants everything and she doesn’t give you a chance to give one, she has to have them all at once. She really has to make me suffer; I guess this is just part of her exceptional gift to me.

We had a good time playing with them, telling stories, and taking lots and lots of pictures. Though the time we spent with them was short, but every minute of it is going to be rooted in my memory.

It's just difficult to go there and come out frowning; you got to put a big smile on your face, look up to the sky, and remind yourself of how lucky you are to have those kids as part of your life. Every minute with them is a minute of joy, hope, and laugher; they just bring meanings to life.

Me with the kids, we were quite busy playing games.
Some of the paintings made by them.
Small sizes, their shoes.
She asked me to take a photo of her while she is dancing! She is always moving.
She was too shy to let me take a photo of her!