Tuesday, December 16, 2008

He Is An Iraqi Citizen

The day before yesterday I was at the theater watching a play with my friend. The director and the actors and I were having a chat before they start the showing. All the Sudden, the director smiled as she looked at the screen of her phone. She received a text message announcing that there is "good news" of an Iraqi journalist throwing his shoes at President.

Everybody was astonished and couldn't wait to watch the footage that they began making jokes about it right in that play showing.
After two hours I return to the area I live. Many Iraqi shops are run by people I know. They invited me and every Iraqi passer by to come to the shop to watch the shoes being thrown at Bush. When one of the five people in that shop shouted in denial of a journalist behaving like that, everybody else told him the journalist was an Iraqi citizen before anything else. It might have been hard for him to be an objective journalist.
I left everybody arguing and went to the internet cafe to watch the footage quietly. I sat there watch it over and over again, and laughed.
Today everybody I know called me to ask if I saw Muntathar Al-zidy, the Journalist and his moment of fame throwing his shoes at Bush.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Noor Hassan

My dream is to be a designer. I also love drawing.

However, I couldn't continue my studies for I had to leave my school and home 3 years ago. And when I came to Syria with my family, we just escaped the danger and I didn't bring my school paperwork from my school in Baghdad. But I will continue drawing.

I want send a message to all girls around the world to tell them that whatever happens, we should continue, and we should help each other in times of crises.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who will put a smile on their faces?

Sometimes, my family and friends ask me why I do what I do. My answer is that the smile on kids' faces is valueless.

Last week, I started a new class of 8 students, two sessions a week. In the past I couldn't do this alone. But now there's an English woman volunteering with me to teach Iraqi kids. She was excited to meet with the students. On that day, she was waiting for me outside while it was raining heavily. Her clothes were all wet and she was using a scarf as an umbrella. Helen, whose last name shall remain anonymous, came with me and met the eight students as well as their families as we discussed with the kids the subjects they want to learn.

My students enjoyed meeting Helen, the new teacher, very much. She made them feel there are people who care about them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Asmaa Ali, 11

My idea of life is a very simple life. Not complicated.

First, I want to study.

Second, I want to draw.

Third, I like to make necklaces.

Fourth, I want to be successful in my life for me and my family, exactly like a normal family.

We are without a nation. When will we not live in a strange country? When will we have a home? I am without safety. I am unable to study. My wish is to be successful despite the difficult situation now. We are refugees. If that is OK with you, don't even ask me about it.

My hobbies are drawing and making girls accessories like beaded necklaces.

Hussein Ali, 14

I was a spoiled child and I had many toys, including a Playstation 2, a soccer ball and painting materials. It was a very nice time. My father had a Mercedes that was very nice. I played in the car with my sister many times. My father had to sell the car because we were forced to leave Iraq and we came to Syria. We left everything. I'm very sad because I didn't bring anything with me and I didn't say goodbye to my relatives and friends.

My hobby is drawing which I like very much. I also like to play soccer.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

For Fatma

Few days ago, a friend of mine arrived from the United States to Damascus to do some work. While we were meeting with someone, I received a text message from my sister in Baghdad informing me that my other sister had a baby. They named her Fatma. I was very happy and I wanted to share my happiness with my friend. I also wanted to share with him my frustration since I was missing everybody so much. My friend, of course, was excited for me that he wrote a poem on the birth of Fatma. However, I wanted to share with everybody this poem.


A child is born in a country flooded with tears
where rivers of blood have overflowed their banks.
A country that knows its share of shock
but little of the awe that was promised it.
A child is born amidst the rubble
delivered by nations a world away.
Where ignorant men smirk and say shit happens
as thugs and madmen crush beauty
and ancient mysteries are lost forever.
A child is born as an occupying army
watches hell takes its place on earth
and drills and hammers and batteries
and water, glorious water, become the tools
of the devil among men.
A child is born amidst the screams of the tortured
and the sadistic glee of their torturers.
A child is born in a country flooded with the bodies of the dead
discarded in soccer fields, markets, on roadsides or trash heaps.
A child is born and half a world away
I hear her cry, I am Iraqi
My people, my culture live on in me.
A child is born in a country on fire,
her mother cradles her close to her breast
And hope is resurrected from the ashes.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

A new Iraqi refugee looks for a safe haven in Syria


When Birath and his mother fled Iraq, they left without taking the essential documents they owned because they were frightened. They went to the UNHCR to register for resettlement 3 days after they arrived to Syria. I joined them to guide them through and get them to right place. Birath's Mom was optimistic to find new live for her son here starting by enrolling him in a school. I have been trying to find a school that accepts him which will be hard because they arrived after school had already started. In order to enroll in the Syria school, Birath also needs his school documents from Baghdad. However, the Iraqi authorities refused to reissue his school documents because he is not physically in the country anymore. So his learning is pending at the moment. In the meantime, I took the chance and began teach him how to use computers as well as English. It could be useful for him at some point.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Birath


My name is Birath, 14 years-old and in seventh grade. I came to Syria 4/10/2008 with my Mom because the situation was bad. One of my brothers was killed by Shiite militia and the others was kidnapped 16 months ago.
Then my Mom was scared so she didn't allowed me to go out of the house about one year. I lost one year of school where I also couldn't meet with my friends.

I will continue my study here, make new friends, my ambition is to be a military officer .
My hobby is playing soccer.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The crises continue

It has been "quite" here these days. Schools has started now. Some of the Nationwithoutanative kids went to school here. Some others could not. So they return back to Iraq. I can see why they went back. They tried to find hope for future in long time here but they couldn't. Especially after they spent their savings. It's not easy to return back when it is still unsafe which means they had more serious crises and hardships.

From time to time I go to visit Iraqi families. I listen to what they have to say. Then leave them without any answer for I don't know what the answer is myself. I can't do anything for them but I still feel it is good to listen to them. It is easier sometimes to talk to the young about hope.

Anything new with me?
I stay here, don't move forward or backward. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. No chance to study or chance to go back to Iraq. No chance to work or live a safe life. it's very difficult to wait for the unknown for it might be worse than today. Then I would regret the time thinking about tomorrow.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Allen L


Hi all,

I'm Allen L. Isaac, 21 years old. I graduated from high school, scientific branch. Then I studied Management and Economics in Mosul city north of Iraq. Due to the increase of the terrorist groups and threats against the innocent, my father taught in a church in Mosul city. One day he was threatened to to be killed is he didn't leave the church. Notifying the police, my old sister was kidnapped and we were asked to pay a ransom for her release. We asked my uncle to go and pay it. After he paid the ransom the police found him killed.



I just can't forget what happened to my uncle; unforgettable scene. My sister will never have a good future after being kidnapped. Although now she is released, it is still a stigma that she was kidnapped. We have an unknown future after I left school and came with my family to Syria



Here in Syria I was hoping to complete my study but I was shocked when I tried to apply in Damascus College as it costs a lot of money and my financial situation is not good. My parents are not in a position to manage to lend me the money. Thus, we have lost hope to pursue and finish our university studies.



However my childhood memories are still in Iraq so I am still hoping to serve my country after I finish my study and go back to my homeland.



I am very much into new technologies. I also I like reading E books especially history books, and listening to Brayan Adams and others' rock music.

God Bless You

Thursday, August 7, 2008

First Time


This is their first time being in an internet cafe ever. I took them to try internet cafes computers after 7 sessions of training. They were amazed by the experience
It's first one for them to try the internet, after 7 times to study about the computer. As you see in the pictures, they are very curious to learn more. They are really smart kids.
I am hoping to be able to get some financial support to bring them to the internet cafe more often , and to increase the number of kids taking these classes. Please, if you like to support this project, donate a computer or $ to .....

Monday, July 7, 2008

Class To Teach Iraqi Kids

The 30th of July,2008, is the first day of class to teach Iraqi kids how to use the computer. I expect they will enjoy it and quickly understand.
I fell glad to help them. hopefully, we can compensate them for the dark days they suffered, even if only a little bit . I will teach them at their homes , where I can use my computer to teach the student.
Though I should have four computers for this project . it's difficult to work without support .

The main problems I face is that I'll need a long time to teach them because they don't have computers , and because they live in different areas.




Mustafa


My name is Mustafa Mayaz Bassim. I am a 9 years Iraqi lived in Diyala city north of Baghdad. Now I live in Damascus, Syria. I was in fourth grades before I left Iraq.

When the U.S. troops killed my cousin and bombed my school, when I saw the helicopters flying over our house and bombing other houses, and when my uncle was kidnapped in Baghdad, my family decided we didn't want to stay there anymore.

I saw many insurgents attacking U.S. troops. As they attacked the insurgents back, I saw many dead bodies in the streets and thrown in trash. They raided my house many times looking for those insurgents. The scariest scene was when, in the down, I saw a dead body in my grandpa house then when the U.S. troops came to the house looking for it, they thought it belonged to us. Then they bombed the house next to ours. I was very scared.

I like sports and my wish is to be a doctor. I like to go back to my school yet I am afraid of the Americans. I would love to have friends from Syria the same way I had many friends in Iraq.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Ameer


Ameer is one of Nativewithoutanation members. Here is the latest with him: After he is done with his final examination for this year, he decided to work for the Summer holiday. He found a job in a laundrmat. When I asked why don't you just enjoy yourself and relax, his answer was "I am happy to do this because it makes my father happy that I am bringing some money home out of this work and that I am learning how to be responsible. However, it is becomes tiring when I do it ten hours a day. Still when I go to bed, I sleep and think that it is more important that my father is happy".

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Statistics on Iraqi refugees

You can download the United Nations' most recent report by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Vivian



My name is Vivian Ali and I am 16 years old and 10th grade. Because of the bad security situation in I Iraq we were driven out Iraq. We came to Syria. While in Iraq my brother got kidnapped in 2006, but was eventually released. My other brother who was 12 years old was killed as he was caught in the middle of a fight between a militia group and a security check-point guards. After the two accidents, my family was demolished leading us to be desperate.
After what happened to my family it became difficult for me to concentrate on my study and my future turn to be vague so it was for my brother, sister and parents.
I would really like to complete my study and look forward to achieve my goals to become clever in my studies and be good in English no matter what the obstacles are.
My hobbies are swimming, listening to the music and play basketball. My favorite musical instrument is the keyboard. My favorite actors are Brad Bit and Angelina Julie.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Chat w/ Ross School,April 25

Another Excerpts from chat between students in Damascus and students at the Ross School in E. Hampton, New York, on Friday , April 25





Ross school: our students will come up to screen so it's close by

Iraqi students: hello back to you

Iraqi students we can't see you clearly

Iraqi students: the hi

Iraqi students: we have here amir, asala, zahra and nurmeen

Ross school: hi

Iraqi students: (that's from right to left)

Ross school: my name is kirsten

Ross school: you are all beautiful too

Ross school: i am 16 years old

Ross school: do you play on a team?

Ross school: could you move the chair please

Ross school: theres something in fron of the screen

Ross school: oh perfect

Ross school: do you have Mcdonalds over there?

Ross school: i play forward as well

Ross school: yes we have a lot of Mcdonalds here

Ross school: so u play soccer

Ross school: cool

Ross school: I used to play defense

Ross school: do the girls play soccer too

Iraqi students: can you hear us

Iraqi students: who are we looking at on screen now

Ross school: my name is taylor again

Iraqi students: amir says that they have to wait until school closes and then they jump over the fence and use the soccer field

Ross school: hey

Ross school: my name is kenny and im 16 years old

Iraqi students: zahra wants to know if you think what is happening in iraq is fair

Iraqi students: and also hello kenny, how are you

Ross school: im good and i think the situation in iraq is not fair

Iraqi students: we are enjoying this because it gives us a chance to talk to students our age or older

Iraqi students: btw, amir is 11, asala is 13, zahra is 13 and nurmeen is 16

Ross school: i read your blogs and i think it was sad with all you had to endure

Ross school: all of the students in my grade are around 16 or 17

Iraqi students: zahra says we have alll applied for resettlement (with the United Nations)

Iraqi students: zahra wants to go to new York

Iraqi students: asala wants to go to michigan

Ross school: how many days of week do you go to school

Iraqi students: five days

Iraqi students : friday and saturday is our weekend

Ross school: why does zahra want to go new york and asala go to michigan...do you want to go to school there?

Iraqi students: i just like the idea of going to new york, and asala has relatvies in michigan

Ross school: oh thas nice

Ross school: new york is a very fun place

Iraqi students: why don't you come visit us on your summer holiday?

Iraqi students: zahra says that makes her more excited

Iraqi students: what is fun about New York?

Ross school: it paused

Ross school: goodbye my friend daniel is going to talk now

Iraqi students: i think we just lost the connection for a second

Iraqi students: maybe the electricity

Iraqi student's: hello daniel

Ross school: hi my name is Daniel and Im 17

Ross school: do you lose electricity alot

Iraqi students: not that often

Ross school: what about Iraq

Iraqi students: do you ever have shortages in electricity

Iraqi students in Iraq, always

Iraqi students: it is off

Ross school: no its a very rare event

Iraqi students what are your hobbies, daniel

Ross school: well I like to play sports like lacrosse and read

Ross school: do you have lacrosse in syria or Iraq

Iraqi students: what is lacrosse

Iraqi students: asala wanted to be a ballet dancer

Iraqi students: zahra writes poetry

Ross school: lacrosse is a sport where you have to carry a ball with lacrosse sticks into a goal

Iraqi students: also she writes and plays soccer

Ross school: could you send us something that you wrote

Ross school: we would really like to read it

Iraqi student's: but the ballet school in iraq was closed, and in Syria they told me i was too old

Iraqi students: nurmeen plays basketball and karate

Ross school: you are never too old to dance

Iraqi students: zahra says she will send a poem

Ross school: do you take karate in school

Ross school: what subjects do you learn in school

Iraqi students: nurmeen also plays soccer

Iraqi students: there is a club for karate outside of school

Iraqi students: she is the second in the republic of Syria for her age

Ross school: what position do you play in soccer?

Iraqi student's: and weight

Iraqi student's: striker

Ross school: my turn is done

Ross school: goodbye i am going to put Stepahnie on

Ross school: thank you

Ross school: bye

Iraqi students: arabic, english, history, geograpy, science, music, history, arab culture and history, religion

Iraqi students: bye

Iraqi students: hello stephanie

Ross school: can the karate kid raise their hand?

Ross school: we're trying to figure out who everyone is

Iraqi students nurmeen is in the black baseball cap

Ross school: my name is stephanie

Ross school: i'm 16

Iraqi students: tomorrow we are going to tartous (it is on the meditteranean) and we wish you could come with us

Ross school: aw that's really nice

Ross school: we wish you all could come here

Iraqi students: zahra is next to nurmeen

Iraqi students: then asala

Iraqi students: and amir

Ross school: zahra looks like one of our friends over here

Ross school: how are you guys doing in school? is it difficult because it's syrian

Iraqi students: we have more materials in syria

Iraqi students and also, for example, we start english in the first grade instead of the 5th grade in iraq

Ross school: is that good?

Ross school: would you rather be in school in Iraq or in Syria

Iraqi students: we think it is good that there are more materials, we can learn more

Iraqi students in Iraq

Ross school: what kind of music do you guys like?

Iraqi students: asala says that the teachers call us "strangers"

Ross school: just because you're Iraqi?

Iraqi students: she fought w/a girl the other day at school and when they were sent to the teacher, they blamed her because she is a "stranger"

Iraqi students: yes, beacuse we are iraqi

Ross school: just show them you're karate

Iraqi students: haha

Iraqi students western music like mozart

Ross school: wow that's extremely impressive

Iraqi students is it winter or summer there

Ross school: it is spring, a few weeks away from summer

Ross school: we live by the ocean

Iraqi students: we also like arabic singers

Iraqi students like abdel halim hafez (Egyptian)

Ross school: are there any Syrians at school that understand your problems and are sympathetic about them

Ross school: can you post some music on the website

Ross school: so we can hear it too

Iraqi students: and hussam al-rassam and kadhim al-sahra, both iraqi

Iraqi students: we will do that

Iraqi students: yes

Iraqi students: there are

Ross school: we have a friend looking for it now so we can hear it

Ross school: i listen to a lot of music like lil wayne, justin timberlake, maroon 5

Ross school: there's a little rap, hip hop and pop

Ross school: with those people

Iraqi students: we don't know them

Iraqi students: can you send them to us?

Ross school: we'll try to send them to you yes

Iraqi students asala wants to know if you like dean martin

Ross school: i love dean martin

manka says: i like frank sinatra and all of the rat pack as well

Iraqi students: and nurmeen says she likes michael jackson

Ross school: everyone loves michael Jackson!

Iraqi students we like movies with angelina jolie and brad pitt

Ross school: that's really funny.

Ross school: I'm going to let my friend Kirsten talk to you again

Ross school: bye!

Iraqi students: bye

Ross school: i was wondering what your future goals are? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years from now?

Iraqi students: amir wants to be a professional soccer player

Iraqi students asala wants to be a journalist

Iraqi students: (she's in the middle of the picture)

Iraqi students nurmeen wants to be a police woman

Ross school: thats a great profession and very admired in the United States

Iraqi students: and zahra wants to be a pediatrician

Ross school: do you all plan on going to college?

Iraqi students: yes

Iraqi students: we all want to go to college

Iraqi students: al-jazeera

Ross school: we watched control room which is about Al-Jazeera

Ross school: would you ever consider coming to America to go to college?

Iraqi students: asala has seen the film

Iraqi students: of course, we would love to

Ross school: we would love you to come study with us

Iraqi students: asala says she wants to go to beverly hills school in las vegas

Iraqi students: she saw it in a movie

Ross school: las vegas is a very fun and crazy city to visit!

Iraqi students: we wish to, if you can help us

Ross school we will try to help, how can we?

Iraqi students: invite and sponsor us

Ross school: it is a very long process, how do we start?

Iraqi students: you give us a letter to take to the US embassy when we apply for a visa

Iraqi students: it can take some months to get teh visa

Ross school: we are very interested in this process

Iraqi students: we are very happy

Ross school: would your parents come to America with you?

Iraqi students: they will let us come by ourselves, but we would like to have them with us

Ross school: of course, we will find out what paper work is needed for this project, it is long and difficult but we are very inspired to send you over here to recieve the permission

Ross school: we will research what is needed

Ross school: our class is over now, so we have to go, but we hope to talk to you next week

Ross school: it was so nice meeting/speaking with you

Ross school: thank you!!!

Iraqi students: thank you

Iraqi students: we do too

Iraqi students: it was nice talking to you

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Evan Ali


My name is Evan Ali. I'm 16 years old and in 9th grade. We left my country because the security is bad. My brother was kidnapped, but is with us in Syria now. My uncle was killed by armed militias.

Now I live with my family in Syria, I am continuing my studies here. I face some difficulties in my studies but it's necessary that I compensate this year so I don't forget what I learned in Iraq. I wish that one day I can be policeman to serve my country.

My hobbies are playing the guitar, and listening to music. I like Michael Jackson.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nuaaf



My name is Nuaaf Al-sadoon, I am 10 years old, and I live with my father and my mother.

We left my country in 2006 because the states of security is bad. I don't want return to see another bombing like I saw when I was on my way home from school. I am so sad that I missed one year of study.

I face some problems in Syria. In school, the slangy language was a change. I couldn't understand my teacher but now it's OK.

Chat w/Ross School, April 16

Excerpts from chat between students in Damascus and students at the Ross School in E. Hampton, New York, on Wednesday, April 16.

students from Ross school
Ross school: hello
Damascus: hello
Ross school: hello my name is laura
Damascus: hello this is david (David is Alaa's nickname)
Ross school: do you go to school?
Damascus: no I doesn't.
Ross school: do you have a job?
Damascus: no, I am not allowed to work here
Ross school: how do you get money?
Damascus: my father, even though is old, he still works. He is a sort a mediator to get goods in and out of Iraq.
Ross school: how old is you?
Damascus: I am 17 years old.
Damascus: Marwan and Noora came in.
Damascus: Marwan is 19 years old , Nora is 20 years old .
Ross school: I was wondering how did you feel when the US invaded Iraq ?
Damascus: we were very frustrated
Damascus: and sad.
Ross school: do you have any questions for us ?
Damascus: how does it feel to be a student in the US? how does it work?
Damascus: Marwan asked
Ross school: we are in a private school which works differently than the public schools here
Ross school: it's expensive, but many people get financial aid
Ross school: www.ross.org is the website if you want to check it out
Ross school: it's privately founded by one woman.
Ross school: we get to travel to many countries including Mozambique, Greece, Brazil, and Italy.
Damascus: are there many difficulties in terms of the text books themselves?
Ross school: are any of you going to Syrian schools?
Damascus: Marwan goes to school here.
Ross school: are you okay in the schools ?
Damascus: Marwan says that the text books her are different than the ones in Iraq, so it is hard for me.
Damascus: their treatment to us in general is not very good, but i am not different than anybody else.
Ross school: when the war ends will any of you go back to iraq or do you prefer to stay away from there?
Marwan: I am not optimistic about the situation and i don't think i will go back anytime soon.
Nora: I don't think, as long as the American forces there, that the situation will change for the better.
Ross school: how do they spend time in Damascus?
Marwan: I read as well as do other things for fun
Damascus: I like to write too.
Marwan: recently I wrote a play and it was performed yesterday.
Damascus: David says that he spends most of his time on the internet chatting
Ross school: are you chatting with people in Baghdad or other places?
Damascus: he chats with mostly people in Turkey because he speak Turkish.
Ross school: do you feel animosity towards all Americans? what can we do as students to help you?
Damascus: We know that the American people are good and many oppose to this. We don't like the American troops.
Noora: What do YOU think about the US Army ?
Ross school: we don't think that the situation has been handled well.
Ross school: the soldiers aren't culturally sensitive or trained, so it's pretty tough
Ross school: we don't understand why the soldiers are really there
Ross school: we don't even get the real picture of what's happening over there
Ross school: except in this class we see what's really happening and it's much different than what we see on the news daily
Damascus: in the US we thought there is a freedom of press and you can get the reality a lot easier than we could
Ross school: there is but there is A LOT of censorship against the media
Damascus: Us leaving out homes reflects that the situation is bad
Damascus: Marwan is surprised to know that there is censorship
Ross school: the major news stations chose to edit the stories so as not to "upset" people. The real whole story is out there, it just needs a little extra work to be found
Ross school: many people focus on news about celebrities here over the situation in Iraq
Damascus:Nora: That is funny, so people don't want to see the situation they created in Iraq, while we live in it. How do we suppose to feel now
Ross school: most people feel that they are not a part of it or the decision to invade Iraq
Ross school: so they chose to avoid the situation
Ross school: a lot of people block it out because they don't want to feel responsible, we don't really know what to do as civilians.
Damascus: we are very happy to meet with you guys
Ross school: another thing, we were told the wrong reasons for why the US invaded in the first place
Ross school: okay we have to go as well, our class is almost over. it was very nice having the opportunity to speak with you
Ross school: shukran
Damascus: we are thankful as well. hope to talk to you again. Peace upon you!
Damascus: we have to go now
Damascus: bye!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Five years now... Iraqi Artists in Exile


Under the title "Five years now... Iraqi Artists in Exile" the French Cultural Center with cooperation with Unites Nations High Commissioner for Refugees sponsored an event marking the fifth anniversary for the occupation of Iraq. Iraqi Artists carried out the event and perform music and clown shows. From my side, I was able to coordinate with one of the volunteers at the center and reserve seats for Nativewithoutanation kids.

The event was of two parts; one in the morning for kids where Iraqi clowns drew a smile on the children faces. The one in the afternoon was for adults. I was able to get the youth to get into that too. Iraqi musicians and singers from all parts of Iraq played very nice Iraqi music. It was a very nice day.
The event took place on April 4th

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Questions from Dorie Miller Academy's students, via Email contact with Firas

US students: Do you hate Americans?

Iraqi students: We don't like the American Army because before they came to Iraq, we never felt scared to go schools and we lived in our country and homes.

US students: Was Saddam a great leader in Iraq?

Iraqi students: We can't say that Saddam Hussein was good, but we know that we never faced terrorism in Iraq, or saw dead bodies in our streets.

US students: How do you feel about having to leave your home country?

Iraqi students: We feel we are not vital, not alive. We wish to go back to our beloved

Homes, Persona things, schools, teachers and friends, as soon as possible

US students: Do you like where you live now?

Iraqi students: We like to live and go to school in our home country more. We are here because we have no other option not because we like it.

US students: Do you think this war will end?

Iraqi students: Of course this war will end. It is just we don't know when.

US students: If the war does end, will you go back to Iraq?

Iraqi students: It is out parents who can decide if we should go back to Iraq. If we ran out of our savings, of course we will go back.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Laith

Laith is one of the Iraqis involved in my group at nativewiothoutanation. He and his family have returned back to Iraq last week after they run out of their savings. It was also hard for him to see his father, who has a good job at the Ministry of Finance, washing dishes in a restaurant in Syria. Laith told me that his father gathered them all and said "My and your future is vague, we can't continue like this". Laith and his family are back in Iraq. Let's all pray for them to stay safe.

Monday, March 24, 2008

UNHCR LOGO

Six months ago, I went to the UNHCR, The United Nations High Commission for Refugees to see if they can help with my stay in Syria after my visa almost expired. They told me that they can't do anything to help me. Since then I have been facing many obstacles even in doing the simple daily life needs. Then I felt like doing this to the UNHCR logo.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Childhood

This short film is edited by Muhiman as his graduation project when he studied at the Fine Arts Institute. The grade he got was "A" even though he didn't have professional equipments.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Maryam

My name is Maryam Kareem Muhsin. I am 20 years old and a student in the College of Education, Physics Department. I was in my third year in college in 2006, but because of the threats from the militias, my family and I had to leave Iraq and all of my dreams and ambitions of becoming a successful university physics professor behind. Now I am without school or communication with science.

I tried to resume my studies here in Syria, yet it is very expensive to go to private schools. I just can't afford it. Free education in Iraq was such a good system. Everybody was able to get free education. I keep reading physics books, though, so that I keep the knowledge fresh.

I live with my parents and two brothers. I like living here because I don't have to worry about my safety.

My hobbies are reading, decor designing, learning languages and sports.

Muhimen



My name is Muhimen K. Muhsin. I am 23 years old, and a student at the College of Fine Arts, Department of Visuals and Auditoriums. I was in my second year when we decided to leave Iraq. My family and I left in 2006 due to the deteriorated security situation, especially after I worked with the media as an editor to one of the TV satellite channels in Baghdad. I was working while studying. The threats I received while working for that satellite channel was the main reason why I left Iraq.

That type of work has been my ambition for a long time. My devotion and love for my work came from my father, who is a well-known actor back in my home.

My dream has always been to become a professional journalist but because I am not either allowed to study or work in Syria, my dream is on hold. I am not giving up though. I am waiting for the first opportunity to continue my studies. Right now, and since I have a lot of time on hand, I have been trying to teach myself more English through reading English books.

Otherwise, I like to listen to soft, classical music.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Haider

My name is Haider Ali Hassan but people nick name me as Turkey because I speak Turkish very well and I love Turkey as I spent some time there. I was born in Tooz Khurmatoo city in Kurkuk in northern Iraq. I am 19 years old and I am in 10th grade. I lived and went to school in Kurkuk. I as well as my family that consists of my parents and two younger brothers left Iraq a year ago because of the security situation.

I speak four languages which are Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, and Kuldani and some English. My hobbies are singing rap songs and break dance. My ambition is to finish my studies and go to Fine Arts college.

Right now I spend most of my time singing and dancing with my friends which I love.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ameer, 11

My name is Ameer Mohamed and I am 11 years old. I am in 7th grade. We came to Syria in 2006 because of the security situation. My father was kidnapped by an armed group. He was released after we paid the ransom. Now it is only me and my father who live in Syria. My mother and sisters are still in Iraq. They stay at home all the time. And my sisters don't go to school.

The one scene I will never forget is when three bombs exploded near my school. I remember the sounds of the explosions were very loud and I remember how the windows in my classroom all were destroyed. I remember very well how my father was carrying me and running through thr streets trying to get me out of the danger when the Iraqi soldiers started, after the explosion, started to randomly shooting.

I like to make new friends. It is harsh on me remembering my friend and colleague who sat next to me in school and who was run over by an unknown. My wish is to have a safer Iraq and for me to go back to Iraq.

My hobby is playing soccer and I hope to be a well-known Iraqi soccer player.

Yousef


My name is Yousef Abid and I am ten years old. I am in 3rd grade.

I have never seen my Dad except the photos that my Mom had. My mother and father got divorced before I was born.

I came to Syria with my Mom in 2007 because of the bad security situation and after we were threatened by the Mahdi Army.

My Mom works as a waitress in a cafeteria in Syria.

I don't want to go back to Iraq right now. Syria is a better place to live in.

My only wish is to see the Statue of Liberty in the New York and take pictures there. And my ambition is to study medicine.

Asala Akram, 13


My name is Asala Akram and I am 13 years old. I am in 6th grade now. I live here with my family in Syria. I am able to go to school here. We left Iraq in August 2005 as the security situation was in constant deterioration.

I have been through so many scary situations that I feel I am changed and that I won’t be the same again. When my friend and colleague was kidnapped and then killed, I was very sad but also scared for my own safety. I always thought what it were me, and not my friend!?

One day I was going to the ladies room and I heard a noise of something ticking like a clock, when I went inside, I saw an unexploded bomb. I run away fast, told my teachers who asked all the students to leave the school. It was on my birthday. I remember I couldn’t celebrate it. I kept thinking what if I was to go to the ladies room in time for the bomb to explode.

My hobbies are reading and swimming. I like using computers although I don’t have one. My dream is to become a journalist.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Firas Majeed



When Saddam was in power, my family were poor because of the sanctions and because our government didn't do that much to make it better for the people. My family consists of 9 people. It was only my father who was working while my mother took care of us. When I was in eights grade, I decided to quit so that I can work and help my father as I was the older man among my siblings. Of course, I regret it now but at the time, I just had to do it.

Because I couldn't finish my school, I was enlisted to compulsory serve in the army for four years. It was a devastating experience. I complete it but turned into different person. I became stronger but depressed about everything around me. I was lucky there wasn't any war then. I decided that I must work very hard now. Moving from one small job that didn't pay enough to another dirty and dangerous job that paid better but still not enough, I owned a small grocery for my own. That way I was able to help my family better.

After the war on Iraq "ended" in 2003, I thought of resuming my studies that I couldn't finish during Saddam Hussein regime. But 2003, my father had cancer and I had to spend about 2 years and a half with him during his treatment period until he a little bit became better. I also had to spend all the $ that I worked very hard to earn and save for my studies. So it is like I woke up one day with no money, no education, no safety, and above all, no home. I had to leave under extremely hard circumstances. I don't even know how to explain it. All I know is that to stay alive was the most important thing to think of.

At the end of 2005, the security situation in Iraq had worsened very badly. I decided to leave Iraq and live outside my home country. I tried to continue my school education again in Syria; a dream followed me for a long time. It was hard to do so since I didn't have school credentials, a major problem for a lot of Iraqi students who left Iraq after the invasion. Getting my credentials will cost me a lot of money which I can't afford.

About the computer learning seminars; I know for a fact that not many Iraqis have computers here in Syria. The majority of Iraqis can't afford to buy them. However, Iraqi are eager to learn about computers and how to benefit from it especially considering the fact that internet has become an essential and cheap way of communications between families, relatives and friends out and inside Iraq! Plus internet has become the only window to the outside world that Iraqis could use. The availability of internet cafes is good in some areas but the service is monitored by an admin in the café, and a lot of websites are blocked including the voice chat and web cam in most of the cafes in Damascus. The reasons for this are unknown to me. I rely on one internet café that we befriend with the owner and sometimes we pay him extra $ to let us use the webcams so that we see our families and they can see us. Sigh… I miss my family very much.

Education in Syria is public for both Syrians the Iraqis yet this applies only to the elementary and the high schools. Colleges for Iraqis are not free. We would have to pay a lot of money. Most Iraqi families can't afford to get their children to private colleges in Syria. This is a quiet a problematic situation for the Iraqi youth who left Iraq suddenly during their college and university studies. They had no other options but to quit schools and to face the unknown. Most of them were forced to leave Iraq while they were in their last year or third year in college, leave Iraq without their education certificates. In addition to all that and even if you had the money and credentials, you still have to spend more money for tutors as education system is not as good as the one in Iraq.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Laith

My name is Laith Faris. I am 14 years old boy and in 7th grade. I live with my family in Syria. We came here first in 2006. Four months after we arrived, we started to hear the security situation is getting better in Iraq. We decided to go back. Upon our return, crimes started to escalate. When my uncle was killed for no reason and my father was imprisoned for five months nobody knew why and people killed in front of hour house, we knew we weren't going to stay longer. Two days after my father was released, we left again.

Today, I live with my mother, father and little brother in Syria. I and my brother go to school here.

I like soccer and I love to learn swimming. I unfortunately, can't play soccer as I have heart problems; something I didn't know before we had to have a medical check when we entered Syria and it is what the doctor told me. I always like to make new friends too.

What I hope for? I hope for the situation to get better so that we go back to our home and friends.

Zahra

My name is Zahra Rifaat and I am 12 years old girl. I am in 6th grade. After I and my family were forced to leave my beloved country, we came to live in Syria now. We left because of the worsened security situation in Iraq.

Every time I remembered that group of armed men who came into my school with big frightening guns, I get scared. When one day an explosion happened very close to our house in south of Baghdad took place, we decided it wasn't worth it to stay, and that we should leave. It was 8 months ago. I remember that day very well. I was crying and feeling very sad.

Right now, I am going to school here. And I have new friends but I still can't wait to go back to my home country, to my friends.

What I like? I like making new friends; I love reading and playing soccer. I wish one day I learn how to use a computer and speak English.

Ahmed Makkiyah


Ahmed is providing translation for webchats.

After the Iraqi liberation the in 2003, I recall that me and my father we were very optimistic and excited about the future of Iraq from the early days of war believing that Saddam Hussein wasn't a good leader for Iraq.

My views and predictions were contrary to most of my friends views and opinions about this war, I've reached a point to argue about why I believe it's a liberation not an occupation?!.

From 2003 to 2006 a three successful years of college passed with a dream to have a bachelor degree in English literature major aiming to get MA degree after that.

on 14th of November 2006 Unfortunately I lost my dad due to a barbaric assassination killing him at once riddled in the neck with four bullets, the terrorists assassinated him while he was driving to his work ,this tragic incident coincided with my second day of my fourth year in college which is the last , WHAT A SHOCK !!

Until today I see dreams that I have BA degree and all my family are celebrating and when I woke up I found my self colliding with the melancholic reality, I didn't only lost my beloved father I lost every thing including my self mental image, me and my family fled our home next day leaving all the nice memory behind us.

I want to conclude with this statement : ''We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.'' By Martin Luther King

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mirna Sadiq, 16

Mirna is in the 8th grade.

"I was a student in Iraq yet due to the bad security situation, now I live in Syria. I was able to register as a student in the Syrian schools. I live with my mother and brother who is younger than me. My uncles sometimes support us with some finance."

"I like sports especially swimming. I like to listen to rap music. I love to learn English. I like landscapes and traveling. I like to make new friends."

"I don't want to go back to Iraq due to the sectarian and ethnic divisions. My hope is for the situation to get better and for the people to realize that this is only harming the civilian people."

Barazan Sadiq, 15

Barazan is the 7th grade.

"I live with my mother and sister. My father died when I was three years old. I live in Syria for 8 months now. I feel uncomfortable living here. I have no friends or relatives here but that becomes not as important when I think when we will be doing if our savings were done."

"I usually listen to classic music especially when I am frustrated and desperate."

"I wish to have many friends. I like communicating with people through email. I love soccer games."

"I know a little bit of English and I am keen to learn more because I simply live this language."

"Thinking of the time when I almost got kidnapped, and the problems my mother had to bare because of the fact that we are Christians, makes me unwilling to go back to Iraq. Our neighbors trying to force us to convert to Islam is another reason made me resent the Arab world."