Some memories and differences between now and then

By Adil Sallih:

Refugee camp: People fled the fighting and then returned to their villages with Kurd liberation

Refugee camp: Many had to flee the fighting but then returned to their villages with Kurd liberation

Translated by Muhammad Fatih Ghareeb

There were problems before I got employed. But our employment was the first generation in the Kurdistan Regional Government. It was in the beginning of Kurdistan liberation. The villages were being re-inhabited. The compound residences were being evacuated and people were going back to the villages. This is in 1991-1992.

I, for the first time being employed, went to a village. My best and most memorable day was Jan 1.1992 It was my first day to open the school gates and start school, while in the whole world it was a holiday. But we wanted it to start like this to make it a historical day, why? Because we were so zealous about our nation that we would feel guilty to be one day behind. We gathered pupils from the four neighboring villages. Most of the pupils had dropped out of school because of the struggle in the country. We encouraged them, enrolled them again to classes according to certificates from their last attended year. We had from grade 1 to grade 6. The school building was built by a charitable organization. It consisted of five rooms and a small five by eight yard. At that time UNECIF was giving out school stationary. Each pupil was getting four copybooks, some pencils, two rubbers and five pencil sharpeners. At that time our works were related to Arbat warehouses (1). Every five pupils had one book. We didn’t have any teaching equipment. The classroom board was a green board which we used plaster chalk to write on it. The number of the pupils was so much that we had to divide them into two shifts. And later on, there was a late evening shift for young men and adults. This one wasn’t official: our aim was just to teach and educate them. There were no certificates for them.

In those times 80 ID was equal to 1 USD. Meaning 240 ID was equal to 3 dollars. A family income which maybe was about 200-300 ID was equal to 3-5 dollars. At that time, with many difficulties, we persevered. For several months teachers’ salaries weren’t paid.

Out of this situation a popular saying came, something like a motto which goes: “We won’t bow down to salary.” There was no telephone to call our families. Between five villages there only one car to take people from place to place. The price of 50 kg flour was 1200-1300 ID, which meant someone with a salary of 400 ID couldn’t afford to buy it even if he saved the money for three months. The villagers had some cows, goats or sheep with wheat or rice. In winters people used wood to make fire and warm up instead of kerosene electricity. Actually, there was no electricity and obviously no television.

Above all this, the cursed civil war between two dominant parties made the life of those miserable people much worse. After witnessing a lot of poverty and hardship, people became refugees in their own country because the political parties used to come after each other’s members.

In those times we managed to raise a good example of a real human being who we are proud of forever. For example; the person who is my lawyer now was one of my pupils from that village. Those in the school administration and teachers were also my pupils in the same village. We were not only teachers but also social reformers. For example, two men from the village had fights with each other. No one could make peace between them, not even the Imam (i.e. leader in Islam) of the village. When we went to speak with them, they had weapons with them as if preparing for a military war. They were our fathers’ age. We made a reconciliation between them that same day.

Another example; one day my child needed to undergo a surgery. In the children’s hospital a young doctor came to me and welcomed me. He said, “I know you don’t recognize me. I was your student. You sit here in my room and I will take care of everything.” Another day I had to go to a police station to show-up as a guarantor of a relative of mine. A policeman came and saluted me and said, “Why, don’t know me, I was your student that year. Anything you need, I and my colleagues here are at your service.” All these are examples to be proud of: that, with my colleagues, we could raise a dedicated generation.

Now, thanks to God, people’s life is good, teachers are doing well in their life. But, technology is making big problems nowadays; that’s what I think. For example: soap-operas, PlayStation, video, more advanced mobile phones, computers and internet. If these are not in all of the houses, they’re definitely in the majority of them. My child knows better than me how to use the games in my cell-phone. If he doesn’t spend time on I, how he has learnt it? So, technology is an obstacle in front of education process, especially for the basic grades. Children don’t have the awareness to use it for knowledge; they only play with it and waste time because of it. This will make them do their homework slowly or not do it at all. This is worse when the family is not appreciative of education.

In the years 1995 – 1998 we had pupils working in the markets after a school day was finished. One of them was working as a street vendor. He used to be on the bus before us! I don’t know how he could manage to go home and drop-off his school stuff and be on the bus before us. Despite this, he was one of the excellent pupils. These days, primary children know all the football players of F.C. Barcelona and Real Madrid. They even know how many goals they have scored. Having a lot of media channels and getting familiar with the outside world is an obstacle to doing homework and this is a reason for a low level of education.

It won’t end. This much is enough.

(1). Our works” means the school was supplied from Arbat warehouses. It was a governmental place. (Translator)

Adil Sallih is a member of the teaching staff at Wlluba School in Slemani – Iraqi Kurdistan

Muhammad Fatih Ghareeb is a translator/interpreter:

Copyright © 2013

One Response to Some memories and differences between now and then
  1. Kuvan Bamarny
    November 2, 2013 | 08:36

    All people of kurdistan have been one way or the other suffered and effected by the miseries of life such as ,poverty,wars and diseases in kurdistan.Iam one of the Kurds too, whom have been suffered a lot and were denied the basic opportunities and rights to life such as shelter ,food ,education,employment,

    In fact the bad effects of the miserable events of 1991on wards-the embargo sanctions ,the uprising ,the flee and emigrations to the mountains and the civil wars ,till exist in my life until this moment.After a decade and half, some Kurdish people like me are still homeless,without a job and income ,and do not even have a piece of land to build myself a shelter in my own homeland kurdistan.

    We all pied a price for ( Kurdawari ) and suffered together but some Kurdish people made it up and tremendously improved their lives by getting more than what they deserved such as ,multiple pieces of land ,and countless amount of free cash in different illegal ways,while some others were denied and were not given not even a proper education or jobs ,much less a piece of land or money.

    I feel like iam a stranger in kurdistan when I see some other whom have had nothing in the past ,but today have
    everything,mansions ,corporation , private jets and lofty amounts of gold and cash.while I do not have nothing,no family, not even have a piece of land for shelter in kurdistan? It makes me think that if one day Kurdistan comes under attack by an enemy ,what am going to fight for ,my piece of land,my job ,my livestock or my donkey?

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