Monday, October 29, 2012

LIVE FROM ERBIL- At the marathon

To the most loyal blog follower in the world- Hellloooo!!!
am katat bash!!!!! 
Okay okay, I admit this blog comes a tiny winy little bit late (as in almost two weeks late!) but look at the bright side, at least I am writing about it. I actually ran (more like 'walked' wink* wink*) a marathon.
Ready. Set. Go.
So.  I went online and wrote my name for the Erbil International Marathon and started filling in the girls' inboxes asking them to take part as well. Initially I was all for the 10 km run for the second Erbil International Marathon. All good, right?
Little CUTE boy with his father at the Erbil International Marathon for peace

Then good old friend, NQ, (if you're a Loyal Blog Follower you'd know exactly who she is) decides to go pick up our shirts and bags, while she's there she changes my 10 km run into 2 km. She knows her friend Saz will faint after 100 meters. So, here I am making a big deal of the marathon and ended up not evening running but walking for 2 km with little toddlers and primary school kids. But I had the time of my life.
The CUTE little boy taking a rest at every bench he saw!

A run for peace on a Friday or a Saturday morning is very new here, for over a few thousand people to turn up was just amazing. There were uni girls with their mums, friends, and many fathers and sons. The atmosphere I must admit was amazing.
After the finish line.
 Once through the finish line--so proud we made it to the end-- the 10 km runners came. We didn't end up staying for the arrival of the 42 km runners but I could see people coming through the finish with all different backgrounds; Africans, Americans, British, Canadian, Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Christians, Muslims, everyone! All colours and nationalities. It was a proud moment even though I wished for it to be more organized but I couldn't have asked for a better morning.

Somewhere over the rainbow....  What a finish to the marathon in Park Sami Abdul Rahman
The experience was very different, we need many such events in Erbil and other cities to enjoy ourselves, and get together a community. I was even happier to see important figures, politicians, celebrities and famous faces in their tracksuits or shorts taking part in the run. Step by step change comes to a society.

NQ and I trying to find a shortcut exist on this complicated map, me+maps= :(
Me after the marathon. Felt very proud.
and what do Kurds have after running a marathon? Yaprax (dolma!!!!!) Aaaah! Love mum.

p.s. I have dared myself to actually run the 10 km one next year. I have started going to the gym few days a week. That marathon was a true wake up call. My family have all agreed to take part next year!

All pictures taken by me and good friend NQ by my BB purely for the purpose of this blog!! Yes, yes, yes, I am slowly progressing with all this technology thing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

LIVE FROM ERBIL: BIG DREAMS but step by step

Hellloooooo from Hawler!!

My dearest, most Loyal Reader.. When I am quiet for a bit you know something great is taking place!

There is always something exciting happening in my life here! This week my day has begun at 7:45 every morning until 5:30 pm, it is work but it never feels like work to me.

During one of our Y-Peer activities on day
At the moment I am working on a dream project, the idea is to train young people to go and hold peer education sessions to youth in high schools, colleges and youth centers. Something that has never taken place in Kurdistan before! Hence, it is the youth who are learning from other youth. Yup! Very new right?!
Never be reluctant to try something different
 My previous experience of giving a peer education session (I blogged about it here) inspired me to prepare many other youth to do the same. Soon a number of my close friends became involved, they took part in various workshops and slowly began holding sessions for other youth, the initiative grew and now with START NGO and UNFPA we are making it happen.
and it is show time! A role play activity with much benefit
 The group that I have been working with in the last four days are great in so many ways. I am already feeling emotional knowing that tomorrow work with this group will end, although I feel and know that we have planted in them a seed for the future. I know I will see them in great places doing great differences in the days, months and years to come. Tonight, I must admit I am very proud of myself and the team that I work with.Through interactive games and activities we manage to build a friendly atmosphere that the youth can learn a lot from.

Groups discuss their conclusions
During the breaks they often refuse to go out, instead we sit on the floor and sing. Few of the participants have great voices; one of the girls in particular has a voice that can produce a world's best seller album. We manage to write little compliments to each other and place it in the paper male boxes we have created, we play energizers when we feel we can't take in the raw information anymore and we share our stories and experiences. At the same time we are learning and studying, in a fun, youth friendly way. 
Group work!
 I can sit down and blog about each of the participants, about their personalities, their life and everything that I see in them. Here we are, 32 young people (17 in my group) have been waking up 7 every morning and going home at 5:30 just to be able to gain the knowledge and the technique so that they can voluntarily go and change other young people's lives. Now this is dedication. This is the type of young people that I love to surround myself with.

Sharing some laughs!!! :)
 We are training this group of youth to be peer educators specializing in family relations. So after 40 hours of training this group will get their certificates from the UNFPA and will then start going off in groups of two or three and start holding sessions for youth all over Erbil. 
Somethings in life are priceless, like this smile!
The greatest thing about this project is that often young people get a chance to talk and express; to speak of their thoughts and express their emotions. I often get a true insight into their lives, their confrontations, challenges and also their plans for the future.
Know this face well, she's Kurdistan's future leader!

This is Kurdistan, and this is the Erbil that I live in today!!