Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dear 2014

Loyal Blog Readers, here is the final post for a year that was packed with everything bitter and sweet,


For me you were the year of many engagements, weddings and new born babies. You witnessed my wedding day, a new career pathway and it was definitely the year where I changed a lot of my views and perspectives about people and life in general. Every year I say this was a self discovery year, and you were no different. But, by far, in your year I discovered capacities in me that I never believed existed. In 2014 my paths crossed with some amazing individuals (Farah, Shan, D.M. and S.E. kurm) and you brought to me two sister-in-law who I love dearly.
While doing peer education training with the refugee youth
It was a year of many trainings and meeting some amazing youth from the refugee camps across Erbil and Duhok in particular. I managed to form a special and unique friendship with the youth in the Erbil camps as  I met them more often than others. I was inspired by the energy and the way they cling onto life despite all the challenges they face living under a tent.
Life changing moments with my Peer Education co-trainer, Rasti Nuri Brimo
You were sweet in all your ways.


You will also be the year that will be written in many history books, researches and dissertations as people will reflect on the emergence and threats of ISIS beasts on my peace loving society. In your year children became orphans, our Yazidi girls were kidnaped, raped and sold; mothers cried as the bodies of their sons returned as martyrs and hundreds and  thousands became homeless and helpless as they fled their homes and cities. Thousands of others were left working without a monthly income... only barely making a living. For many you were a dark, bitter, haunted year.
IDP camp, where many fled their homes after ISIS threats
Photo: Rewan Kakl
Your bitterness left deep wounds behind.

Among this bitterness I watched as the volunteers in Dilvia alongside Shan Kameran achieve some astounding things that the eye could not believe. I watched this young girl lead the way and make thousands of people smile. I was inspired by her willingness to help, plant a smile and make a change. Through the use of social media thousands of dollars was collected to assist those who had fled their homes, those who needed to keep warm at night or have a meal under their tin roofs.
Our youth peer educators at the refugee camp
Photo: Taken from Aral and Rewan Kakl, but not sure who took the photo

In 2014 I learned how any individual can change the lives of others. I met Shan, sadly I couldn't give my time as much as I wanted to, but from far I watched her and her volunteers change lives, I saw these young people dedicating their lives to make others live happier and more in peace. Despite all the bitterness I always managed to look up and thank God for putting in this world such amazing people.

May your 2014 be filled with sweet moments enjoyed with those dearest to you
Photo: By me at Mam Khalil's teahouse.

I wish you all, my dearest loyal blog readers a very happy new year. May 2015 bring more happiness and sweetness, may it be a year of love, peace and great memories for you and all your loves ones.

Forgive me if anywhere in 2014 in some or another I hurt you.

Oh yes, one last point, in 2014 I blogged the most posts out of my six-year blogging journey! That, my friend, is an accomplishment.

Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

10 reasons why Erbil's maternity hospital needs urgent attention

I have come back from the Wlada hospital (the official, and probably one and only public maternity hospital in Erbil) whoever sees me asks me what's wrong. I haven't looked in the mirror, but I am told I look very pale.

This is not my first experience in this what so called hospital*. Various times close friends, relatives and loves ones have visited for gynaecological surgeries or delivery of their babies. I have been blessed enough to be part of these miracles and at times, sadly, part of nightmare experiences.

I thought of titling this post '10 reasons why Wlada (maternity) hospital has to close its doors' but then it is the only option for many women at the moment. However, it needs attention both as a building, as facilities, as staff, doctors and as an overall system.

Before I begin my list of bolla-bols (complaining) I want to point out in the Kurdistan Region, and in Erbil in particular there are some private hospitals making you feel like you are in five star hotel with great services and staff. However, I know a lot of people in my life who can never afford to go to those hospitals. Only because they are not financially better off they don't deserve the same services? It's not fair, it really isn't.
Picture: Google,

1. The staff are rude:
No one dares smile in this hospital. I got yelled at. Yes, a receptionist (or cleaner, I don't know, no uniform to show who is who) decided to raise their voice and scream at me because I entered the wrong room (after I asked a million times if this is the right room and I was told yes over and over again). A polite "this is not where you are supposed to be" would have made a huge difference. But no, just yell at your patients and shoo them away as if they are little chickens coming in your newly planted garden.

2. The Doctors become careless:
 To be fair some of  the best doctors work in Wlada hospital as their morning jobs (don't get me started on this morning job and private clinic in the evening business) but the amount of patients and disorganization that happens in that hospital doctors start to just go with the flow and fit themselves in with the chaos. This often leads to them not focussing well and not giving individual patients the time/ attention they need.

3. No privacy:
There is no such thing called privacy, walk in the corridors and it's easy to see a woman being checked with her legs wide open behind a curtain that can be seen through (you know, through the sections between the pole and the curtain).

4. Too many patients:
In a single room you can find up to six patients all at once, one being examined, one talking to the doctor, another one getting ready to be examined, another already taking clothes off waiting for someone to check her. There is no system in place, if you don't know anyone there or you don't know your way around you end up spending half your time pocking your head out into different rooms asking every passer-by whether they know X or Y place/ person.

5. Your private issues are public:
It's a women's birthing hospital, those even who aren't pregnant most likely have a very sensitive issue that they don't want to share with every single cleaner, other patient or receptionist they come across. My poor patient was asked a gazillion times in front of so many people "Whose the patient? You? What's wrong" what are you supposed to say? Ask, you have a right, but not in a loud voice in front of everyone.

What hurt me most is that a patient (let's say X) was called into the operating room (yes, I was standing two doors away from the operating room) one of the patients said there are two people with the name X and enquired  which one of them had to enter, instead of the receptionist calling out LOUD -very loud- the last name of the patient she shouted out: "X, the one who is getting her uterus taken out"... poor lady stood up, went red and began preparing to enter the operating room.

6. No men allowed:
After writing point 3, I realize very well why it is not allowed for any husband, brother or father to enter the hospital, but it doesn't make sense because some of the staff inside are males anyway. Plus, I will never understand why a father can't be the first person to hold his new born baby or hold his wife's hand after or during birth?

7. Working hours.
The entire time you are there it's all about rushing here and there before doctors leave by mid-day. It's as if when the clock strikes 12 all doctors are sucked into the ground and will come back out the next morning.

8. Lack of medication
I have witnessed this myself, if you leave an operation and you have pain someone you know must go and buy you pain relief needles from outside. So, if you are unlucky and no one told you before your operation to get pain relief. You come out, the anaesthesia loses it's effect and you can just put up with the pain until the said needle/ medication is brought to you from a family member.

9. Hygiene
Let's be honest, I didn't see dirt or rubbish on the ground. However, hygiene is not just about rubbish and dirty tiles. It is also when a woman lays down on a bed it has a piece of tissue over it and is removed before the other. Hygiene is not using the same glove to touch a patient's private area and using the same glove to hold your pen or put the curtain aside.

10. Respect
I love going to place where I feel I am treated right and respected. No matter if you are rich or poor, whether you are a lawyer, builder or a cleaner. I feel because most of the people who opt to the public hospital are usually middle or lower middle class citizens they are not treated well or respected by the staff at the hospital. When it comes to our health and bodies we all deserve respect, time and affection. The way staff speak to patients frustrate me, there is no please or thank you. you are a patient you need explanation, you need someone to treat you with care. In Wlada, dream on. I posted something on this on Facebook a friend of mine replied he borrowed money just so he can take his wife to a private hospital, why should this be the case?!


It is always easier to complain then come up with solutions. I am no doctor, I am no professional in the medical field, I am sure there are many confrontations in fixing this issue. As much as it is the staff's fault it might also be the patient's fault too. But why not...

- Train the staff. Every single staff members there needs to learn how to deal with patients, how to talk, and how to be polite. Do them a one week training, after the training who ever is caught not implementing what they learned cut off their salary for a month or two, fire them if need be.

- Bring in a system to the hospital, there are room allocations but it's not well designed  and organized. I guess the building is ancient and needs major reconstruction.

- Provide a huge pharmacy with all the medical needs outside, people don't need to go to Erbil Medical Road just to buy a needle then come back to the hospital. Okay, if you must, buy the medication, you might as well buy it in the hospital itself. We are talking about pain here, body/ physical pain.

- If need be, maybe we need to make our medicine schools bigger, take in more students, bring in profession professors from abroad. I don't know. I am sure there is a solution and it won't cost half as much as building a new mall.

*I would like to point out that services in this hospital are entirely free unless certain medications are needed. It is also not only a birth hospital but women who have pregnancy issues or other gynaecological health matters visit here.

* I did not take any pictures inside the hospital for ethical reasons.

Tags: Hospitals in Kurdistan, hospital in Erbil, Erbil birth, giving birth Erbil Kurdistan

Monday, December 29, 2014

Festivity in Erbil

Loyal Blog Readers- here, there, everywhere!

Merry Christmas to those who celebrated (as usual I am lagging behind, four days this time. Sorry) I wish you all never ending peace and happiness - though I know in today's world that is almost always unlikely to happen, but it's a wish.

What's happening in my part of the world? I went silent and wiped myself off the face of the earth for almost a week as my one and only sibling got married. A dream day, I must say; Feet and shoulders are still in pain, not that I danced or anything (wink. wink.). The Christmas spirit here year by year becomes more and more colourful. The malls are beautifully decorated and so are some homes. Many of my Muslim friends have put Christmas trees inside their homes to get into the festive mood.

It's all lights outside Family Mall in Erbil
Photo: twitter - @Kurdistan_612
I love driving the streets at night and seeing beautiful lights around Family Mall, Majidi Mall and even few of the smaller malls. Most of them have a decorated section inside to reflect the Christmas spirit. I am proud to still live in a city where we can celebrate side by side with our Christian brothers and sisters.

However, my beautiful city Erbil is a little wounded this year and most likely won't blow our minds with the colourful fireworks that rock the night sky on New Year's Eve. It was a tough second-half to 2014, many of our boys lost their lives fighting terrorists/ beasts/ monsters (ISIS) on frontlines. Hence, while we always cling onto life and live every moment despite all the tough circumstances our nation encounters-- in memory of those who lost their life this year, those who had to flee their homes and in respect to all the families who are still mourning the loss of their fathers, sons, brothers and husbands (even daughters) we shall keep our celebrations inside the walls of our homes.

I am thinking of doing something special for every person that has come into my life in 2014, including the girls at the refugee camp. I will keep you posted on that.

For now, just making the most of the last few days of 2014, finalizing little bits and pieces and waiting for a turn in the page. New year plans if you live in this part of the world is sometimes limited but I have always loved a night in with my dearest ones!

Love from
My Nest in Kurdistan


tags: New Year Erbil, New Year Kurdistan, Holidays, Christmas Erbil/ Arbil/ Hawler/ Kurdistan

Monday, December 22, 2014

Positive energy from a refugee camp

Dearest Loyal Blog Reader,

Sometimes you feel out of no where a lot of stress knocks at your door, your mind boggles at a million and one things all at once and then you either explode, physically hurt anyone beside you (lets just hope none of you do that), cry, lock yourself inside or... somehow, somewhere, out of nowhere all this disappears. Magic? Maybe.

Anyhow.. let's just keep my complaints aside. Back to why I am writing this post. Yesterday I visited some of the lovely youth in one of the Refugee Camps in the Kurdistan Region. My visit was long overdue but I came back almost electrified with positive energy. I know. Positive energy from the youth at the refugee camp? How does that work?

Every time I visit it's a wake up call. Sometimes I return upset, other times angry and sometimes in tears. Yesterday I came back empowered, happy, stress free and sky high positive energy. Hang in there, I'll explain. I promise.

Basically we met with our volunteers* they are young boys and girls who undertake peer education sessions (a friend and myself trained these youth, you can read all about it right here) to decide what are the next steps for 2015.

The girls -- and few boys -- inspired me because they live under tents, surrounded by mud, cold at night as they listen to the rain drumming on the tent above their head, BUT, they wake up in the morning with a wide smile, they laugh, get changed and go to change lives of others. How amazing is that?

They have more reasons to complain than the number of hairs on my head (ah! not a good example Saza) yet still they do their volunteering work, are full of energy and want to do something in their spare time; they want to do something for the little community. They are praying every second for the schools to open. They are clinging onto life. An inspiration for those of us who don't stop complaining even though we are living under the roof of a house and have a monthly income.

Above: H.S. and I interviewing one of the  girls before we began the peer education training. Today, the girl you see above is trainer herself, a lovely girl who has become a dear friend of mine.

I will sign off here,
Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan

P.S. Just a last note: I wrote this the night I came back from the camp last week, not sure why I didn't post it.

*A local NGO is running our youth space, after a pause in activities we visited to meet with the youth again

Photos: Rewan & Aral Kak's Facebook page, and START NGO

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TEDxErbil Part I

Hellooo Loyal Blog Readers,

Before I begin I shall take a pause. I actually met three Loyal Blog Readers this week. How amazing is that? One in Yoga (gosh she was so sweet) and another two in TEDxERBIL on the weekend (you know who you are!). I guess all three were surprised to see someone so tiny to be the face behind this blog. Note to self: Add my height and weight to the bio. Haha! Anyway....

TEDxERBIl is always a lovely event, this year was no different. Of course, you can't be in Kurdistan if the mic doesn't cut or growl a few times - at any event you're in, and this was no different. But overall all the volunteers who had helped to organize the event were more than great!

I wanted to share with you, my dearest reader, some of the faces that were on stage.

Dastan and Eman

Left Dastan, Right Eman.
These girls are just super super super sweet, I spent a good few hours with them the day before the event and won't talk too much about them, keep an eye for a blog post on Wednesday all about these two 18-year-olds who created a bomb detector. The youngest speakers on stage and they received a standing ovation from the audience, these two were on top of the world and spoke so passionately. They are knowledge, emotion and beauty mixed together to create two genuine souls that you want to pack in your bag and take home with you. I have not seen girls this kind and sweet. Okay Saza, stop here. As I said, full blog on both these sweet hearts in... let's say 24 hours?!

Naji Asafiry

Naji Asafiry
His story gave us all shivers, and inspired us beyond words. How amazing to have a young boy on stage giving a personal story of his journey with drugs, the turning points in his life and the day he decided to stop using weed. His talk finished with a rap/ song tribute to his mother (which I actually enjoyed!) I hope to get Naji involved in our peer education program so that he inspires young people who are in the phase that he went through.

Omar Ali

Omar Ali
Omar was such a confident speaker, and I wanted him to stay on stage for hours and hours on. His presence was simply enjoyable. He is also a great inspiration. From the hidden, unseen boy to the one who makes everyone smile. I wished I could speak to him after the event and just say: Hey, you're great!  He didn't stop smiling and the performance was so smooth, so natural, so... Omar!

Hiwa Osman

Hiwa Mahmood Osman
I have been following the work of Hiwa Osman for a while now, so it was no surprise that his talk will be interesting and there was no doubt he will have an immaculate presence on stage. The talk was calm, and flawless. But listen read this: As soon as  I got to work the next day I read an article about ISIS; One of the points made about them was so interesting. I took out a quote  from the article and was tweeting it when the bells in my brain rang! I remembered Hiwa's words and then deleted the entire tweet. Want to know why? Wait for the video to be uploaded and my friend, you shall see.

I have heard about Hamko so much, but it was the first time I see him. I think a lot of the audience members left saying this was their favorite performance. He grew up as a poor child, without a mother, in a cemetery. He spoke of his tough childhood journey - almost had me in tears - and where he is today. Typical, as a comedian, he made us laugh too. I think I want to go to one of his shows soon. If I do, I will blog it, don't worry!

Dashne Morad

For those who don't know, Dashne was a former TV host who later recorded an album labelling  her as the Shakira of Kurdistan. This was a very interesting performance. Dashne's presence on stage and the way she spoke was with no doubt engrossing. However there was a lot of contrast with what she said in her talk and other interviews she had given before. Maybe it's a new Dashne, or maybe this is the real Dashne. Not sure. Her opening words to me showed she is going through a lot of pressures and is being attacked heavily. Her eyes teared as she said "you don't know me...I am not a bad person."

There were some great speakers (including Reber Jaff) but will cover them in another post.

For now lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan,


(pictures: Some are mine others taken from TEDxERBIL Facebook page and other photographers)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cook with Razaw

Dear loyal blog readers,
Guess what? Once again my favourite Kurdish Instagram-er and cook (and a whole lot of other things- smart girl she is!) has dropped by on the blog with a special recipe for Swedish saffron buns- lusse katter . You've got to love Razaw Diako. Make sure you follow this beautiful Kurdish girl both on her personal blog, and Instagram account.
Without further-a-do let's begin.
Guest Blogger: Razaw Diako
Razaw Diako
8-9 cups of flour
50 g yeast
2 1/2 cup sugar  + 1 tbs sugar for brushing
200 g butter
3 dl cream or milk
1 g saffron
1/2 cup raisins
1 egg + 1 egg for brushing

1. Place saffron in a bowl
2. Melt the butter over low heat, pour over the sugar, cream (or milk)  and saffron. let it be 37 ° C (lukewarm)
3.  Pour the liquid  and the egg over the crumbled yeast, stir until it has dissolved
4. Add the flour a little at a time and work with the dough smoothly.
5. Let it rise under a cloth for an hour.

6. When the dough is in double size, shape into small balls, 15-20 pieces depends how small or big you're making them (no extra flour is needed)
7. Now shape each ball worm-like and bend both sides inwards.

8. Preheat the oven 225 C
9. Add the raisins (put the raisins on each roll)
10. Whisk egg and sugar , brush the buns on every side .
11. Bake it in the middle of the oven 8-10 min until you get a nice golden color

Thank you once again Razaw, I know what I am going to get up to in the kitchen this weekend.

Until next time
Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan



Monday, December 8, 2014

Moka & and a little bit More in Erbil

Dearest loyal blog readers,

I love something old, something traditional, something full of culture and oh how I love drinking my tea at Mam Khalil's teahouse in the heart of Erbil's Qaysari Bazaar.

Saza, wake up from the dream! as much as  I would love to be there everyday it's a once in a blue moon visit because some men's eyes pop out seeing a lady at a teahouse. Then there is that mind boggling question where-do-I-park-my-car-without-leaving-the-keys?! (Yup. we leave the cars unlocked, and the keys inside when parking in most all tiny parking lots in this beautiful city of mine). I still haven't mentioned the traffic and the time constraints and, and, and... so the easier alternative is a perfect café / restaurant where you can feel super comfortable, and happy all the while you fill your fussy appetites.
Beautiful Shan caught reading at Moka&More Erbil
This is where Moka&More comes in. I had planned to visit after hearing super great feedback from a family friend who is there with his family almost every evening. Not much parking issues, very pretty décor, and the section upstairs is perfect if you're not interested in those other cafes where you are surrounded by testosterone levels that blow the ceiling off.

Moka&More - Erbil
If you have been following our #PoppyLovesBookClub gathering we did our first meet up at Moka &More and since then many of the girls have been visiting again and again. The service is amazing. When I say amazing I mean it. Just Imagine 18 girls, each picky in her one ways, yet we all left happy as can be. The food presentation is mouth watering, and S.K. tells me they have one of the best burgers in town.

As for me, I always drink the last drop of my cappuccino there. So, the next time you want to spend time alone or with friends and you're asking chi bkayn (not that we ever ask this in Erbil, cough* cough*) drop by and let me know what you thought.

By the way watching football there is a lot of fun too; After all Moka&More is said to be your second living room away from home. 
See, it's the little details like the décor above that make it all the more special. There is also a very scarce book shelf, which I am hoping the lovely owners are thinking of filling with books and daily newspapers soon.
Saw this on a friend's Facebook page, she celebrated her birthday at Moka&More
You can like the Erbil Moka&More Facebook page, follow them on twitter, double tap their pictures on Instagram or visit the Moka&More website (did you see what I did there? Hyperlinked everything for you! haha)
At Moka&More - Erbil
In Erbil (because there is also a branch in Slemani) it is located right opposite the Italian Village on the 100 Meter rd. They are open from 9 am to 3 am. That's right till 3 am! Don't believe me? Call them if you like- 0751 051 0985!

Oh. One more thing, I promise, last note. They do delivery too. Don't worry, you can thank me later.

Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan


Pictures: Me, the Moka&More Facebook page and others stolen from Farah Al Bazarchi. She won't mind.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

25 things I have learned in 25 years

Dear loyal blog reader,

Today, I turned 25 years old. What a year it has been for me, a lot happened, a lot changed and along the way I have learned a lot. Tonight, I won't go through the past year in my life (will do this when we're closer to new year) but will share with you 25 things I have learned in my 25 year life. Are you ready?

Here we go. 

1. The simplest thing you can do in life is be nice. Be nice to all those around you. It's not hard.
2. Always know what you want. Believe in what you want. Be persistent to get there. 
3. The key to successful, happy people is the way they deal with their tough moments. Take control of your emotions when confronted with difficult times. 
4. Finding the right friend is hard. Very hard. But once you've found them hang on to them tight
5. Express yourself. Tell those you love that you love them. 
6. Never talk bad about anyone. If you don't have anything good to say about someone, then just don't say anything. 
7. Live knowing you will get what you deserve. No need to look at what others have, no need to compare yourself. 
8. You don't need to drive a Ferrari, live in a castle or have a designer hand bag to be respected and loved. Don't ever be pressured into doing or having something just for the sake of society. Spend your money wisely, there are those who have no money for food. I know I probably sound like an old woman talking, sorry! 
9. Set goals. Have aims. Give yourself something to work towards, something to strive for. Even if you don't get to exactly where you want to be, still write all your goals. For today, tomorrow and ten years too.
10. Family is first. Don't neglect the mother whose womb you were born from, or the father whose wings you grew under. 

11. Practice a hobby you love. Discover within you something that makes you happy. Know what it is, do it when you need to. 
12.  When you reach success never forget those who supported you, stood by you and above all believed in you. 
13. Travel. When the opportunity comes whether it's a nearby village or a country miles and miles apart
14. Look at those under you, less privileged than yourself, those that never got the opportunities that you did. Keep those in mind not to only appreciate what you have more, but because sometimes we can be the type of people who keep wanting more and more. Looking at those less privileged at a point will make us want less and less.
15. When choosing your life partner, make sure they are first your best friend. 
16. Don't be afraid of making mistakes, you will always make them but learn from every mistake or wrong decision you make in your life.
17. Forgive. There is nothing more beautiful that a forgiving heart. As for those who hurt you very deep, forgive and forget. Life is too precious and short to hold grudges against people. 
18. Be honest, be yourself. No need to be someone else, no need to change yourself for anyone. If you want someone to love you, they better love you for who you are. 
19. Breathe in, breathe out. Anger won't solve anything. No need to raise your voice at anyone or anything. 
20.    A happy person is he who makes others happy. Trust me on this one! No need to be selfish about everything, give people chances, give them opportunities, applaud their successes. Their success is not your failure. 

21. Listen to people. Listen to people's pains, listen to their heart pouring out, listen to their laughter, listen to them cry on your shoulder. 
22. A book is the best gift you can give or receive from anyone.
23. Always make time to socialize, to sit face to face in front of people without it being work related. 
24. Don't judge people. Don't judge the snobbish girl, the angry man, or even the prostitute. I learned this lesson as I trained youth to be Peer Educators. I have come to believe every person is influenced by factors or experiences in their lives.  
25. Support a football team. Says my husband.   APPRECIATE. Appreciate all that you have, and all those around you. 

Until next time
Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan 


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

November book club

Dearest Loyal Blog Readers,
This post comes a good week late. Sorry. But hey, we had our first Poppy Loves Book Club meeting in Kurdistan - Erbil, The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman was the title and what a discussion we had! We laughed. A. Lot. but some of the comments and thoughts brought out from the book were deep and raised many questions and discussions amongst us. and you know, Saza loves discussions. 

First Poppy Loves book club meeting Moka and More-  Erbil, Kurdistan Region. Iraq
Have I mentioned the cupcakes yet? Farah and Frishta had made themed cupcakes for all of us! How amazing is that? Got us all in the spirit of the book. So much fun. I just wanted to stare at it, didn't want to ruin any by eating them. I know. Crazy.

 To be completely honest I never thought or even imagined the turnout will be this big, nor did I have in mind how deep the discussions will be. Most of these girls hadn't met one another before, they are different in backgrounds and probably have different beliefs and values as well. But here, in Erbil we got together, made friends, enjoyed our evening and spoke on something we had all read. I realized as different as we were, there were also different thoughts made about the book, to the extent that I wanted to re-read it. I found it amazing how a single book, same words, same everything, generated so much different interpretations. I was also reminded how great and opinionated our girls are over here.

How I love these girls
The fact that so many girls around the world, including Kurdistan, can read the same book at the same time then discuss it and answer questions related to it in their own way is healthy, enjoyable and yup! Gives us something to look forward to at the end of the month. I secretly looked at the girls and saw how well they got along, and enjoyed eachother's company. No one was judged, hurt or felt left out. Some ate their way through the meeting (no names there. You know who you are.) and others spoke their way through.  Having the Brimo sisters there meant guaranteed laughter.

I hope one day we can read local books and get authors based in Kurdistan to come and join us for tea/ coffee as we discuss his or her book.

Author Denis Thériault in Nottinghill and with us online
Later in the evening most of us (those who were not already snuggled up in bed) were online past midnight with the girls in Notting Hill and the author himself.

We took the opportunity to say Happy Birthday to Ashna and Juwan who celebrated their birthdays that day! As usual the talented girls at Sekercake made a wonderful cake for the occasion- istikan of chai (tea), a book and a pen, it resembled both Ashna and Juwan perfectly. They both know how inspiring and special they are to me us all.

Poppy on her toes and fingers answering all of us
As you can see above, poor Poppy must have had sore fingers filming little bits for us and responding to our questions and answers directed to Denis.. all live!
The next book club meeting will be on January 28th, 2015- 5 pm. The title  is 'Dodger' by James Benmore, the author will be joining the Poppy loves Book Club in Notting Hill and with us online! How exciting? The cover doesn't appeal to me too much. You know, not my type. But I am going to get into it as from tonight.
If you're based in Erbil we have five copies kindly sent to us by Poppy, which we share amongst ourselves. Email me and I will put you into the list, although if you have access to online purchases you can buy it, read it, then drop by at our meeting. You can also enter Poppy's competition to win a copy in her Facebook Group she has seven copies to give away!
Don't forget to join the Poppy Loves Book Club Facebook page and the monthly newsletter.

Until next time
lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

An orphanage for Yezidi children

Loyal Blog Readers, the kind hearted ones on the WWW
I have always admired and looked up to young people who try to create something in their world. I have never met this young girl, but have heard enough about her to tell you all about a special project which you can help in making possible. It's a new foundation called Free Yezidi, the founder is Pari Ibrahim, the mission is to create an orphanage for Yezidi children who lost their family during the ISIS attack on Sinjar.
Yezidi orphans, in need of an orphanage and post trauma center, urgently
Photo: Free Yezidi
Already Pari has a list of 130 Yezidi orphans. She is on a mission to create an orphanage and a post trauma Center for Yezidis. This will be located in Duhok, the team of volunteers need $200, 000 USD to make this possible. Compared to the hundreds and thousands of dollars that go towards fancy cars, clothes and handbags, this is a little amount that will change a number children's lives for ever and ever and ever (aaahhh if only someone famous or a company manager was reading this humble blog of mine).
Even so, loyal blog readers if 100, 000 of us donated $2 each, we can secure a future for all the children who became victims of the ISIS attack, destroying their homes and killing their mothers, fathers and kidnapping their other siblings.
Please follow the initiatives of the Free Yezidi foundation on their website:
Follow them on Twitter:
And like them on their Facebook page:
You can also donate by clicking right here!
Let's give these children a home in which they can feel loved, have a home to sleep in, and opportunities to go to school and live their life...
Lots of love from My Nest in Kurdistan


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Buy Art! Help the displaced!

Loyal Readers based in Erbil,
This one is for you.
I love sharing with you the little, special things that take place in my nest. So, here is something exciting. Are you ready to add this to your calendar this weekend? Friday, November 21st, 2:30 pm is your date to make a difference and give a helping hand.
Art auction for IDPs and Refugees
Photo: Mselect.
Some of my favourite organizations are all getting together including Rwanga and RISE foundations and of course MSelect for a charity art auction supporting IDPs and Refugees in the Kurdistan Region.

"Photographs and paintings from more than 10 local and international artists and photographers will be the focus of the event. Proceeds will directly support those most in need."

If you're looking for a gift to buy anyone what better than a special piece or art? I love the idea of something hanging at home, knowing it has a grand meaning and significance behind it.

I hear Farhad Pirbal has donated five of his paintings to be auctioned at the event as well!

Address: Naz City Road off of 100 Meters Street (behind Jordanian Hospital) floor below Esporta Gym.

Friday, November 21 at MSELECT's office from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
This is an open invitation so feel free to drop by, invite yourself.
Be there!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dear Me

My dearest, Loyal Reader…

Back then, I used to make time  have time to visit the little children in the orphanage. I used to help with their homework, play games and run around like a child in the garden. Dear Me, how many times I sang songs running in circles holding little children's hands; or the times I drew butterflies and love-hearts on innocent faces.
A day I will never forget. We (Ashna, Bewar, Ruwayda and many others) joined
the children to the airport
Back then, I used to go and visit Pura Gulizard at the elderly people's home in Erbil. I used to take her home-made cakes or cookies (all sugar free) and listen to endless complaints- about her children, life, her deteriorating health… and about her crush. I used to hug her tight and laugh at her teenage heart as she asked me to pluck her eye-brows. I used to sit down and sing along sometimes, or listen to their stories. At times I drove home in tears, other times I was the happiest girl on this planet.

Back then, I went on adventures in my own city. I would walk up the citadel and make my way through the busy alleyways of Erbil's Qaysari bazaar. The experience used to tickle all my senses, I would breathe in the smell of strong spices, the not-so-appetising odour of fresh cheese (with few flies visiting for a taste) and I'd admire the sight of the rainbow of bright coloured material in so many shops for Kurdish clothes (Jli Kurdi).  I would make time to appreciate the poor, but very patient, shop owners laying down colourful pieces of material on the tiles for very picky Kurdish girls to choose from.

Back then, my Loyal Blog Reader, was only few years ago. A lot of these still live in me, sometimes priorities change. Now I dream of the families under tents in refugee camps. I think of how much donations one must collect and try to fit everything in with long working hours. I have nightmares of ISIS. But these aren't adequate excuses, right?

Dear Me, do I put the blame on myself, or let the blame free from within and surrender to believe this is life? C'est la Vie. 

Lots of love from 
My Nest in Kurdistan,


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sugary Cakes - Sekercake

Dear Loyal Blog Reader,
Imagine, sugar and cake? I know, emmm emmm. Then imagine this: That perfect cake with your favorite character, your lover's favorite football team or even the cover of your favorite book. Then you can eat it all. Two sisters in Erbil, Ozlem and Cigdam, make that possible with lots of time, love and precision. 
Cigdam (left) and Ozlem (right)
One an architect, another a food engineer* (clearly, engineering isn't as sweet of a job). These sisters have started a small business in Erbil that is growing fast. It started exactly a year ago in a small shop in Kasnazan, they have now moved to Italian Village in Erbil, here they talk, laugh and with lots of patience make cakes people request. No advertising, no fancy banners, just word of mouth and all orders are taken from their Facebook page. 

If you are surprised about how great my blog pictures are
special thanks to the little brother who I dragged along
"I like this job more than architecture, it's a form therapy," tells me the cofounder of a architectural company in Erbil, as she uses stencils to create a little yellow duck for the cake. 

I loved watching the sisters talk and giggle as they made the request to a Facebook order, with the iPad at hand to see the pictures the customer had sent through. This time it's a cartoon character. 

Oziem, the former food engineer, did her courses in Turkey and Holland for Sugar Art, the name of that course makes me bounce off my chair. Sign me up please! With her brief English she tells me: "I like my job, people happy, we are happy." Yup, no customer walks out disappointed after ordering their cupcakes or cake. 

With their massive, yet humble success, these two sisters say it was never expected one year ago that their cakes would go such a long way. Hence, they have the idea to open a mini boutique like cafe/ cake shop and if there are any women or girls who are interested Oziem might just be kind enough to offer courses in sugar art... right here, in Erbil. 

Cake icing fresh and ready
Want to know a little secret? in that room, as I was talking to the lovely ladies I felt like a child who wanted to dip her index finger in everything then lick it off. Don't worry. I didn't. Who wouldn't want to dip their finger in that blended cake icing! (Above)

Sazan might just be in heaven. Top left, was sooooo good. Something like
Chocolate coated custard in pastry? 
Usually for an order that has lots of decorating and art involved the ladies start 48 hours before hand.  Never thought a little cupcake can be such hard work to make. 

Sekercake - Erbil

A cake in the making
This was the weekend that I learned all about fondant icing, and met two super sweet ladies who make the best sweets I have tasted so far. 
Everything is made with love
I was eager to ask about why they called their little business Sekercake, the reply? Well, everyone likes cake, and people like sugar, so why not sugar and cake together, hence, Sekercake. And that, my dear Loyal Blog Reader, made perfect sense to me.

The lovely ladies at Sekercake preparing for an order in the afternoon
I loved spending time with both lovely ladies, they were super doooper nice, it was clear they loved what they do, despite the lack of a common language between us, they wouldn't stop smiling and trying to explain things to me (I always need explaining). 

You can contact the ladies at Sekercake on 0750 850 0201. To make an order just inbox them on Facebook with a picture of what you want, or give them a call. 

You can visit their Facebook,  Twitter, or you can see some pictures of their work here (If you see anything Manchester United, it's my order). 

Mention this blog or the iErbil Facebook page and the ladies will give you a sweet discount with your next order. I promise. 

Until next time I find you something just as sweet
Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan


*Food engineer - I Put a link to Wikipedia, in case there are some Loyal Readers, like myself, who went "huh?" when they read that. How cool.
What do you do? 
I'm a food engineer! 

If you have something special I would love to come and see, just drop me an email