With the starting of liberation process of Heet from Daesh, earlier last April and after achieving many successful meetings between groups of youth from heet in places of their displacement, and for their desire to work in order to bring life back to their city, the youth of the city launched their youth initiative “Shaqofiyan” under the slogan ” Life Starts with One Step”, believing and confirming what Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish said:” We have on this earth what makes life worth living”.

The team gathered under the shade of Shaqofiyan referencing to the oldest and most famous cafe in the city of Heet “Shaqofa Café”, Determined to rehabilitate the city and entrench the culture of tolerance and non-violence in the community of Heet, by setting clear lines of work and a long series of programs and activities. At a time when the process of liberating Heet was achieving major victories on the ground, the youth of Shaqofiyan worked on announcing on their initiative to people, they started promoting their group through their Facebook page aiming at spreading the definition of Individual duties as a citizen, through motivating for teamwork and cooperation to overcome the damage that surrounded the city of Heet since its occupation for two years by Daesh, the initiative received a considerable support within the city and this support had a significant impact to motivate a lot of young people to volunteer in order to facilitate the return of life to the city after liberation.

 

 

Afterwards, the team released an online form for people who want to volunteer and work with Shaqofiyan, they got a lot of volunteering requests and had their own database of volunteers. The Iraqi Social Forum had a major role in the evolution of Shaqofiyan’s work; they showed their readiness to support Shaqofiyan programs through joint meetings to discuss the goals of this initiative and mechanism for future work after the liberation of the city. And it was summarized by adopting the culture of tolerance, non-violence, community peace and the mechanism of entrench it to the society of Heet being targets that constitute an important requirement in the cities that have fall under Daesh control and their repressive practices which left negative psychological impacts and have created gaps that need a long work to be filled in.

With achieving the victory in liberating the city of Heet at the time when there was still bombings at the other side of the city through the river, Shaqofiyan started their first campaign to rehabilitate some safe neighborhoods and clean the main streets and paint the sidewalks. Three months later, with the liberation of the second side of the city and the return of many of the residents of Heet who were displaced from the city after its occupation, and with the beginning of the school year for students in the schools affected by the war, Shaqofiyan started their second campaign to reconstruct a group of damaged schools through coordination with the director of education of Heet and schools managements.

After the completion of the task, the youth of Shaqofiyan conducted some visits in order to coordinate with the local council of Heet as well as the security forces and some government departments who showed their pride of the work that was achieved by Shaqofiyan so far, and expressed their willingness to provide support for the success of the team’s future programs.

Shaqofiyan youth also participated within the activities of the third season of the Iraqi Social Forum in September 2016, they led a small tent in Abu Nawas parks in Baghdad, in which they filled it with pictures of the heritage and culture of the city of Heet, trying to send a message of hope for the return of life to their city. This participation paved the way to a greater communication and mutual cooperation between Shaqufiyan and the Iraqi Social Forum and the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative along with Un Ponte Per… (Italy) and the CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France) whom had a big role in the success of the work by providing financial support for the rehabilitation of largest number of schools in the city.

At the moment Shaqofiyan has seen a great and remarkable development and real consistence that expresses the awareness of its members about the initiative goals and their ability to achieve these goals by having the collective team spirit, also Shaqofiyan greatly expanded by the accession of a number of Heet’s youth from different intellectual backgrounds who are able to work within the team. The team sought to organize its work by holding regular meetings to evaluate the work and to organize future plans, also the team placed a complete program for 2017 to pave the primary goal of consolidating a culture of tolerance and non-violence and communal peace through the distribution of assignments and tasks between team members.