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.


Sylvia said...

Dear Firas, your story breaks my heart...I am very sorry about the very difficult life you have had, and all the hardships you are going through at this time as well.

I understand very well how difficult it is for you to have to leave your family behind - I hope your Dad is better now, and I pray for all of them who are back in Iraq.

Unfortunately, this site is the only way we can communicate, and it is very public.

I will find a way to get in touch with you because I found this website through another organisation which you may already know about.

Until then, take care and I wish you all the very best. Do not lose hope and stay strong. I admire very much your desire to help Iraqi children to get family with the computer and internet.

God bless and with very best wishes,

Native without a Nation said...

I am very happy to hear from you. Please, stay in touch and email me any time at ( I am the founder of the project if it is not clear. We need at this point people to pay more attention to this as it is a very good way to get people to be humane with each other. Bring the young generation together is the best way to achieve this. Let's talk more. Peace, Firas Majeed