Day 21 – Life in Iraqi Kurdistan
October 27th 2014
Today i started my third week in Kurdistan and, the funny thing about it is that i’m also starting my second week as an immigrant, as my visa expired. I am currently waiting for my permanent residency card, and hopefully I will get it soon !
Rain has stopped in Erbil. The sun is back, but nights are getting colder day after day ! But at least the camps are not flooded anymore.
So, this week started with a photo exhibition in French Institute of Erbil. I went with my team worker Tom and met couple of known-faces over there. The exhibition was nice, and so was the buffet. I got to know Mr Ambassador, and most of all, got provided access to the library. As I have already read the two books I brought with me, I need to find some more books ! 🙂
Most of my week tasks was about moving stuff from Rise’s Dream City house to a new house in Ainkawa (the Christian area where Rise Foundation is moving its office to). Some food distributions also, but this week has been quite easy going to be honest. On friday we went to Akre camp once again for the Castle Art project, and I would not be able to explain why, but I have enjoyed that precise day more than any other so far ! Well, maybe because I really like those kids, but I was in a good mood, so were they, and all the way to get there was a fun trip. We even gave a lift to a hitch hiking peshmerga (Kurdish soldier) until Akre ! That’s kind of a cool experience.
It was very sunny and warm in Akre, and on Friday we were painting the playground next to the camp. As it usually happens, each volunteer receives a group of children he has to take care of, and my two girls were so kind and easy-going that it was easy for me to go around and talk with everybody. And then the little miracle happened. After a cupple of minutes I was talking with dozens of kids which were all so nice, and willing to learn anything I could teach them. Some of them were surprinsingly speaking a very good english, and would translate to the others my answers to their questions. After half an hour I had so many kids surrounding me ! And I began to teach them some english, first the numbers, I can tell now that they are nearly all about to count until ten, then we had a lesson about how to name parts of the body, about what surround them, trees, trucks, cars, sky, sun, earth. And in return they taught me what it meant in Kurdish. A perfect sharing time which I’m not about to forget !
By the end of the afternoon we went with Tom visiting a friendly family of his, and they were very happy because they finally got their asylum granted for Sweden ! ( Tack Sverige ! ). 300 hundred families are living in Akre, and thousands in the whole Kurdistan and most of them are looking for a better place where to live, so we can say that this family is very lucky as it’s very hard for all the refugees to get granted such a nice place where to go to !
On saturday, the weather was so amazing that I decided to go for a bike trip in the mountains, north east from Erbil. A 60 kms away from here starts the Safin mountain with a 1200 peak, and an astonishing view on both sides of the valley ! Definitly worth it to go, nature, fresh air and great shepherd to be met ! With Tom and Campbell (New Zeland guy that arrived a cupple of days ago) we plan to make another trip to Dukan lake, 120 kms from here. I’m really looking forward to it !
Today (monday) we received a first hundred blankets for the Kobane refugees, and we are expecting thousands more to come and to be distributed within the next weeks !
About the situation in Kurdistan at the moment, there is still not much happening. Zummar, a city in North West of Kurdistan has been taken back by the Peshmergas forces, and Kurds are now three cities from Mossoul, so it’s quite good news ! If everything goes well, there might be some evolution of the situation within the next weeks/months. Though the Sindjar area is still under a very strong blocus by ISIS, and thousands of Yezidi families are still stuck in the mountains..
Please have a look at the most recent pictures, and feel free to share this blog ! And if you want to help us with our work here, you can still make a donation on Rise Foundation’s website !
Greetings to you all ! Xavier-Loup