December 2014. A year of adversity and endurance and yet also opportunity in Iraq. As the Editor in Chief of Nina Magazine, a bilingual magazine in print and online for Iraqi women everywhere, I passionately believe in the power of young people to step up, once they believe they can do something. That of course is the importance of education - creating not just the tools of knowledge, but also confidence and understanding of how their actions are able to impact immediate communities. I am therefore delighted to share with you a story first published in nina-iraq.com (arabic.nina-iraq.com). A group of girls from Baghdad, all still in education have started the Mawada initiative to support displaced Iraqi families.
Refusing to just helplessly watch the unfolding crisis in some areas of Iraq six friends working together were determined to act in order to help those thousands of Iraqis, displaced and starving, due to the current security situation.
Sarah Mazin, a member of Mawada Group goes on to share:
“We were thinking of a way to help those displaced people who were out of reach of humanitarian aid. It’s winter time and everything is needed. We need to do something. Our goal is to help the young women believe in themselves, and build their own future. ”
The group was formed by six friends - students in the colleges of Arts and Media. Supported by their families, these young women launched a voluntary work group on facebook. They then invited other women to participate in a one-day handicraft bazaar in one of Baghdad’s social clubs. The aim was to sell the hand-made products and use the money to help the displaced families. The advertisement was simple but meaningful: Do you want to help the displaced people but don’t know how? Visit us at the Bazar. Shopping is sweet. Yet, good deeds are even sweeter. In just over a month period, the participants for products increased to 70, and the bazaar was a big success. Not content with the 2,400 USD that had raised, and notwithstanding the challenging security circumstances, the group then proceeded to deliver aid themselves to the displaced families!
The bazaar reflected a warm atmosphere of love and caring, a direct translation of the spirit of Mawada. All kinds of hand-made jewellery, flowers, postcards and sweets formed a colorful collection, delivering a clear message that individuals can make a difference.
The Group has implemented several humanitarian activities as well. For example, they are distributing school clothes and stationary to orphans. They are also planning to organize online training on computer programs and handcraft activities, when they have achieved the funding they need.
Moving forwards, these young heroines are determined not to rest on their laurels. Instead they are planning to register their community group as an NGO. Sarah has the last word.
“By registering as an NGO we will be able to help many more people. We believe self-development is very important and so, by enabling young girls to build their skills and thus capacity for employment and even entrepreneurship, we are showing them that the world is wide open for them to succeed. Please go to our Facebook Page for further information.”
Determination, courage and vision - and thanks to publications such as Nina magazine and Iraq Business News awareness for these wonderful initiatives can be created. Never forget, awareness creates motivation and motivation leads to action. So, I will leave you with a final thought for 2015,
"The voice of a nation united, that reflects both new and old ways
By lighting a path for tomorrow, we can connect our todays."
Nina Issue 2 is out now. You can see the published version here.