From the Midst of the Rubble, Hopes Glow for a Brighter Tomorrow — Youth Campaigns Flourish in Baiji City After The Liberation from Daesh
The Iraqi Social Forum (ISF) and the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI)
In order for peace to prevail in cities recently liberated from Daesh, displaced families have to be able to return to their homes and former lives. To make this return possible, voluntary teams from the Tikrit Social Forum (including the Tikrit Youth Council, Let’s Create Joy, the Baiji Youth Council and We Are Peace) worked in cooperation with the Iraqi Social Forum to organize a reconstruction and rehabilitation campaign on 27 April 2018. Together these civil society groups started rebuilding a number of schools in Baiji city, one of the districts of Salahaddin province.
Schools suffered tremendously from the destruction caused by military operations during the period of liberation; many school buildings had been seized by Daesh and much damage was done when these buildings were reclaimed. The volunteers involved in this recent rebuilding activity sought to bring life back to these schools, and in doing so, to support people who had been displaced, calling them to return to these areas with a sense of security and the knowledges that education is once again at the foundation of their communities. Because half the population of Baiji is now displaced and living in camps scattered throughout the province, the reconstruction taken on by these voluntary teams was an important and active expression of solidarity to former residents that they are not alone and have support in the revival of their city.
The first phase of the campaign took place in two important schools with large student bodies, both in central areas: Al-Hai Alasary mixed school and the mixed Sabaa’ primary school. The campaign began on Friday morning with volunteers painting the burnt walls and removing the more damaged ones entirely. They ensured a steady supply of power to schools through the installation of new electric cables; they replaced water tanks and broken windows, and repaired damaged pipes, water taps and bathrooms. The campaign also included writing encouraging slogans to returning students.
The campaign involved more than 40 volunteers and will continue in the coming weeks to complete the work in these schools. In addition, it was agreed that 100 green seedlings will be planted on one of the city’s main streets, to be cared for by the municipality.
This campaign is part of the project “Paths of Coexistence in Mesopotamia and Middle East”, which is funded by the Swiss Foundation (FAI) and implemented in cooperation with the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI), the Italian Organization, Un Ponte Per…(UPP) and the Information Center for Research and Development. The campaign aims to promote the values and principles of the Iraqi Social Forum: social cohesion, peace-building and spreading the spirit of peaceful coexistence among the people of Iraq.