Rebuilding schools in Iraq: ‘’Education will shape the future of our children’’
48-year-old Ahmad Ali Hussein and his family were forced to flee their Iraqi hometown of Al-Mostah in the Nineveh Plains to escape violence of ISIS’ rule. Three years later, the family returned home. To enable his youngest daughter Huda attend school, Ahmad has helped rebuild the village primary school.
Ahmad and his family were displaced for three years. He speaks about it with a lot of sadness: ‘’We felt like foreigners during our exile. Our hometown is very remote and life has never been easy or comfortable there. But I was born in Al-Mostah, it is my home, our home.’’
Access to education during ISIS occupation was dangerous
"I was able to go to school and learn a skill. Not all my children were able to enjoy this privilege during ISIS’s occupation,” says Ahmad. “I had to withdraw one of my daughters from school during three whole years because of ISIS. She was very pretty and I was afraid that they would take her. I want things to be different for my youngest daughter, Huda. I want to make sure that she receives an education.’’
Returnees rebuilding their home
The primary school, which Huda now attends daily, was severely damaged by the fighting in 2014.
When the displaced families returned to AI-Mostah, they joined hands in rebuilding their village. Due to its isolated location in the Ninewa Plains and its poor connections to larger cities, AI-Mostah is very dependent on external assistance. Malteser International, with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is supporting partner organization People in Need in their reconstruction efforts in the region, including rebuilding the Al-Mostah primary school.
People in Need has been working in Iraq since 2013. The organization aims to rebuild a total of 20 schools. In addition, PIN equips the schools with electricity and sanitary facilities, and installing new doors and windows, while providing learning material for school children. Teachers undergo training on dealing with children traumatized by the conflict and violence. Psychosocial support is provided for children with trauma, if needed.
Village residents have volunteered to rebuild their school
Ahmad and his son volunteered to help rebuild the school, taking care of the plastering work. Other members of the community helped with the painting, fixed doors and window as well as the electrical work, and contributed to the improvement of the water and sanitary condition in the school.
Ahmad is encouraging all parents to send their children to school: "Education will fundamentally change the future of our children.” He hopes that the next generation, including his youngest daughter, Huda, will have access to education and all the opportunities it offers. “This way they can also help us rebuild our country, village by village."