I posed this question to relatives and few friends most said family, loved ones and good health makes them happy (they're my friends, so I expected these answers). The question was returned to me by a short text from a relative, she wrote: "And what would make Miss Mandalawi happy? An independent Kurdistan looool"* I texted back four words: "Read my blog tonight!" so here I am feeling like I am going to explode if I don't get this entry done before Iftar.
What is 'happy' anyway?
It's funny how shopping, watching TV with a bag of Salt and Vinegar (actually, make that Original) chips can make us happy. But what is true happiness? What does make me, you and others really content? For sure, being with family, friend and know that they're all in good health. But that's not the happiness I mean. I am talking about the happiness where at that particular moment, right then and there, you feel like you own the world. You feel nothing can ruin that moment.
I always knew this (below) made me happy, but now I know that nothing can make me happier than seeing the smile of a child on my lap. Wait. I know this sounds corny, but let me finish. Please do continue reading.
Yesterday, my dear friends^ decided it was time to visit our little—and old—friends at Mali Khanda (Khanda house, I'm going to avoid using the word orphanage!) and the Elderly People's Home (khanooy basal-chwan).
Above: As we leave one of the houses in Mali Khanda. A very HAPPY good-bye
Of all the places I visit in Erbil these two are my favorite. Of all the outings one can do with their friends, it is outings like yesterday that I get the most satisfaction and enjoyment from.
I can't describe the feeling I get when we enter each of the three houses at Mali Khanda. This is not just the warm greeting and hugs that we receive, but to go in and see those kids laughing, crying, fighting, giggling, and playing brings HAPPINESS.
Lana~ was unwell, having her on my lap almost the entire time she wouldn't speak a single word, just gazes up with her sparkling eyes and smiles. She is a twin with her sister, who happens to have 6 other siblings (and two sets of other twins, if that makes sense). The mother is ill and is in critical condition, the father does not work and only has certain time to look after the kids and afford their expenses, so four of the girls are at the orphanage, including one set of the twins. The little boys are living with him though.
I am so thankful these children are where they are. Their home is clean, it's beautiful, and in many ways in is filled with love. These kids get three healthy meals a day; they dress well, go to kindergarten and will also go to school. The kids get to meet people, go out, and won't ever have to work under the warm sun or be abused by their parents who are psychologically worn out, and probably won't ever be able to provide them with the privileges they have in Mali Khanda. What could make little Lana happy. Candy? A toy? A nice top? Maybe she would enjoy opening it and finding what is inside the wrapping paper. But Lana needed affection; she needed a warm hug, someone to give her one-on-one time. Someone to say: "You are beautiful, you are special." Children aren't oblivious, they need to feel warmth and fondness.
The most beautiful I. on Bewar's lap
I know this, because she gave affection in return. The way she held me—and wouldn't let go—the way she would stare, and smile.
Lana's smile made me happy. The way she would reach to the camera and want to take pictures, that too made me happy. The way Isra (who I wish to adopt someday) held my hand, sat on my lap, gave me hugs and kisses—that was also an incredibly happy moment.
Right then and there, you forget about deadlines, horrific breaking news you heard the night before, you forget about the miseries of the world when you look into the eye of an innocent child, who just happens to be smiling.
When you leave Mali Xanda, naturally you forgive the people who have hurt you, you begin to take cautious in how you treat others, you realize that life isn't worth all the complications. If a little child can live far from the biggest thing in the world—the love of a mother and father—then I can confront anything that can come my way.
This was taken by Lana's sister
You don't know what to expect from the little ones. Every time it's something new, the first time I went Isra and A'la (sisters) were little children with messy hair who liked to draw and have sticky hands from eating lollypops. Today, they are both as sweet as ever, and this year they're going to start going to school. They're unpredictable, (I don't know who has taught them, but they've learned to pose funny faces when taking picture) with unique personalities. I can't help but think of how they are going to grow up and what they will become. I have a feeling they're going to grow into young women full of passion with an endeavor to help others.
If you are ever in Erbil PLEASE do visit the kids. You will feel the happiness that I am talking about. You go to make them smile, but they are the ones who will make you happy.
Dear R.M. an independent Kurdistan would certainly make me happy "LoooL". But for now, happiness seems to be coming from the simplest of things in life. (Above: My little friend and I at a happy moment in Mali Khanda)
*It took me such a long time to realize that LOL means Laugh Out Loud, but what does LOOOL stand for?
^ I am lucky to have the world's greatest friends, who are dedicated to giving their love, time, and whatever else they can to others: L.L, S.R, N.Q, Bewar, Ashna— make sure you follow their blogs— with the existence of girls like them, be sure, Kurdistan's future will be in good hands.
~Lana, is not the real name of the little one, I prefer to keep her name in particular anonymous. I haven't included her picture either.