12 June 2018, Baghdad

With the participation of 14 young activists from different organizations and voluntary teams, the Najaf Social Forum organized a specialized training in collaboration with the Iraqi Social Forum. The training focused on how to plan and run effective campaigns, and took place in Najaf city from 1-2 June 2018. This training is one of a series of trainings organized by the Iraqi Social Forum in cities all over Iraq. Taken together, the trainings are creating a strong network of young activists who are well prepared to contribute to a growing Iraqi youth movement working for peace and social cohesion.

 

The young activists while taking the training.

 

After reviewing some of the essential tools for planning, leading and administering civil campaigns, Salman Khairalla, member of the secretariat of the Iraqi Social Forum and leader of the training, engaged the trainees in an open discussion about the most pressing social problems now facing Najaf province. Together they evaluated these problems and considered how civil campaigns might be used to help resolve them. For instance, how might a civil campaign be designed to counter hate speech from extremists who claim to speak for many, but who in fact represent a small minority of people? How can activists work to counteract the suffering caused by the pollution of the Kufa River? And how might a civil campaign work to prevent further water shortages, thus putting an end to their damaging impact on nearby farmlands? What kinds of solutions are available to the people and the government?

 

Salman Khairalla while discussing with the trainees.

 

The Najaf Social Forum was established last year and gathers together those who want to work on peace-building and other related social issues in Najaf province. One can see its impact already by considering the range of organizations and youth working teams which participated in this recent training, including: the Imprint of Hope organization, the Think About Others team, Writers Union of Najaf, AKITU for Solidarity and Sustainable Development team, as well as some individual activists.

The Iraqi Social Forum has been working over the past few years to pass on its experiences to many Iraqi cities, primarily cities near Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This activity  comes within a wider program for social cohesion called “Paths of Coexistence in Mesopotamia” which is run by the Iraqi Social Forum and the Information Center for Research and Development, in partnership with the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative and Un Ponte Per organization, with the support of the Swiss FAI Organization.

Salman Khairalla

Iraqi Social Forum