Bozo the Bear and Animal Trafficking in Iraqi Kurdistan

Written by Tebeen Muhamad. From the beginning of life, God has created various creatures, most of which are wild animals. Human beings have categorized them according to their way of living and species. Wild animals, as we can see from the word “wild,” which means “living or growing in natural conditions; not kept in a house or on a farm” (Oxford Dictionary), are beasts that have to be in nature and away from people in order to live wildly. Among the carnivores, we can find a large group of mammals: bears.

Bozo, a small, charming two-and-a-half-month-old Syrian Brown Bear was found by filmmaker, San Saravan, a month ago on the streets of Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan. The origins of Bozo aren’t clear. Bozo was driven to Sulaimani by car from Duhok, although the whereabouts of his parents are unknown. San stumbled upon the young bear tied to a residence in the Sarchinar district of Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan. Disgusted by the small cage and worried about Bozo’s health, San bought the bear in an attempt to prevent additional harm from befalling Bozo. People surmise his family was killed during the attacks to Kurdistan, whereas others argue that his family has brought to Syria as he is a Syrian bear.

Although I’m sure that San meant the best for Bozo, was buying an endangered animal the right choice? If I want to stop animal trafficking, should I purchased trafficked animals? I contend that purchasing trafficked animals will encourage the traffickers to continue business as usual. If we really want to minimize the number of Bozos in Iraq, we should advocate for strict anti-trafficking laws and we should report those that sell and buy endangered animals.

Although finding Bozo’s family is one of the best solutions that we, people having cared about animals and having had sympathy, should do to save Bozo, we have to keep him alive until finding his family. The question is, how can we keep him alive?

Because Bozo is a bear like the other bears around the world, keeping him in a small confined cage might cause him to die. Bears are wild animals, which require hills, forests, mountains and the abundance of nature to thrive. Consequently, the more Bozo is kept in a cramped urban environment, the more we would be responsible for what happens to him.

Many people have been voluntarily working to find solutions and help Bozo; however, nothing, unfortunately, has been found so far. Kurdistan, where there are habitats for diverse animals, has many mountain ranges, but these natural sources have to be protected by both the government and the people. Thus, precious animals like bears cannot randomly be taken to one of the mountains since wild animals might be harmful if people try to hunt them.

“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite and to act so is immoral” (Leo Tolstoy)

Kurdistan is in the process of development, which means everything is developing including the substandard zoos, which don’t provide adequate housing, food or care for the animals. Yet, the more Kurdistan government abolish “animal hunting,” the more animals, like Bozo would survive.

To conclude, Bozo is a bear and an example of an animal that needs help. Bozo’s plight is not unique but he is simply one data point on an issue of growing concern both nationally and around the world.

Visit to Hiwa Hospital

Written by Karzan Fadhil

Hiwa hospital is a cancer patients hospital established in Iraq-Sulaimani, which includes over four hundred children diagnosed with cancer. The hospital does not only include Kurdish children, but also it has accepted various children from different parts of Iraq with open arms. Today, a group of students from the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) organized a visit to the hospital, and gave the children many gifts. The trip was organized by Jwan Farhad, a student in the undergraduate program at AUIS. During the visit the  students met the children and closely talked with them to make them happy. For most of the students it was the first time to visit the hospital and see their hard circumstance, but ultimately during their discussions with the children’s mothers their eyes filled with tears, and they sympathized with children’s parents.

In the hospital, there were many children diagnosed with cancer at different ages, ranging from one-year-old to their early teens. The AUIS students met a group of approximately 35 children. The children’s mothers complained about the cost of medicines that sometimes there is the lack of medicines, so they have to buy them outside the hospital, and they are too expensive for them because many of them do not have a good financial situation.

Despite the fact that the children are terminally ill, they became happy when they were given the gifts, and their mothers smiled at their optimism, so AUIS students tried to wipe sadness off their faces as much as they could. At the end of our visit, we talked with Kak Nariman, an official at the hospital, about the patients’ conditions. He assured us that a few of them have hopes to be cured, but it is the matter of time. Also, he hoped that our visit would not be the last visit to the hospital. Finally, he expressed his thanks and appreciation towards AUIS students for their visit, and he thanked them for the initiative that they took.

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UNAMI meeting

AUIS‘ Development Club members met today with staff from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) about collaborating in the near future on ways to address developmental issues.

We discussed a lecture series on a number of relevant issues including women’s right, water rights etc involving branches of the UN, civil society groups and AUIS students.

Development Club

Written by Karzan Fadhil on January 31, 2012. The environmental issues have spread over almost all the countries, and they need to be resolved as soon as possible. In Iraq, also this occurred over time due to the predominant use of cars and the lack of the accurate environmental education in this region. The necessity of the environment and the instinct of finding a solution to protect the environment led to emerging Development Club and encouraging students to commence their work at Development Club to protect the environment through this beneficial club.

Development Club is a diverse club located in Iraq-Sulaimani that includes many eager students regardless of age, language, religion and different perspectives. The onset of this club’s work refers to March 2011, when students passionately wanted to spread awareness about the environmental issues and cared about the abatement of the pollution. This club has had roughly 50 members, and most of them are young adults, who have strong desires to serve their community through this club. The reason that students have joined this club and collaborated with each other is because this is the most appropriate place for them to use their ability and physical skills. In this club, students experience and encounter new things and take a huge role to protect the environment because they physically participate in the projects, and they are a major part of conducting the projects.

Development Club has had many distinct projects since its onset, and its projects reverberated among people, such as visiting NGOs, the climate action day, hosting a conference with the United Nation organizations, and now the commission of Development Club is working on a new project called “The Green Music and Art Festival” intends to spread awareness about the environmental education. In fact, the existence of this club is so necessary for this city and people; particularly young adults because this club prepares them to protect the environment from the ongoing issues and spread the awareness about the environmental protection. In sum, Development Club beside its function that aims to develop the society, it concentrates on the environmental education in Iraq, and hopes to increase the green areas to make its community a healthier, a better place to live.

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Gelişim Kulübü (Development Club-Turkish)

Gallery

Yazmak: Chris Debruyn Çevirmek: Srur Muhammed Mart 2011’de  bir grup, Irak-Sulaymani Amerikan Üniversitesi’nde okuyan öğrenciler Geliştirme Kulübü kurdu. Başlangıcın yanadan beri, bu grup yerel  STK’lar ziyaret edilmiştir. kulüp üyeleri, topluluk üyeleri ile toplantı ve konular  Sulaymani , Irak, Kurdistan sürdürülebilir kalkınma ile ilgili analiz edilmiştir. Bu çalışkan gönüllüler, gelişim projelerinin değerlendirilmesi, gözlemlediklerine özetleyen , akran düzenleme, ve kendi bulgularını gönderilecek bu web sitesinde için kararlıyız. Umudumuz yakın gelecekte, Kürtçe ve Arapça  bulgularını alıntılar yayınlamaktır. Bu öğrencilerin özveri ve cesaret olmadan, bu web sitesini mümkün olmayacaktı.

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Why Do We Need to Do Volunteer Work?

An AUIS student helping plant trees at the new campus

People reach a certain stage in life when they realize that they live their life adequately and see that there are others who are destitute, desperate, and distressed in life.  Those people can give help by offering necessary skills that would cost a lot of money elsewhere to the people in need or can aid them economically.  They decide to help the people in need by whatever skills they have.  They try to help them to have a little knowledge about the world around them.  In a way, they are giving something back in order to balance out the opportunties they have had in their lives.

I heard a little about volunteering when I was younger, but after joining AUI-S I have realized how it made a huge impact on many of AUIS’ teachers and faculty.  Many teachers volunteered years of their lives serving in orgnaizations like VSO (Volunteer Service Oversees) and Peace Corps.  Still, after finishing those, they are continuing to do other volunteer work in other places they have been to, including Iraq.  In my university, we did several volunteer works like assisting refugee kids, cleaning rivers and streets, and helping raise money for children who have cancer, etc.  At the beginning, I did not see that much benefit for the teachers and faculties, but after experiencing volunteerism firsthand I now realize that it helps the poor in one side and the volunteer on the other.

Loading goods to be donated to Iraqi IDPs

After a while, I realized that there are huge benefits from it for the inside of the volunteer.  The way you feel after helping a person and seeing that person smiling gives you a joy that cannot be measured.  Additionally, there is another amazing benefit from this job, which is making friends.  People have easily made friends with the people they are helping, and also with the other volunteers because both have a parallel aim in life, which is lending a hand. I personally have made many friends through my volunteer work.  My teachers had the same advantages while they were in other countries through Peace Corps; they connected with new communities and got a better understanding of differnet cultures.  Interestingly, I have also realized that they have learned new languages, different cultures, and new skills from their experience as well.

I become very happy when I see poor people being remembered and helped by others.
My volunteer work made me be a more mature person and feel that I am born with a reason, which is helping others who are unable to live a happy life.  In addition, it makes me feel comfortable and proud of myself because it shows me that I can be a part of raising a new generation in a good way.

Picking up trash in the Rizgary district of Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan

I hope that people can volunteer more and more because there are many desperate people out there waiting for help. As Albert Pike said, “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal,” so we can see that the advantages from volunteering are infinite.

Qeleyasan river clean-up

Sections of the Qeleyasa river are badly polluted

A few weeks ago, I accompanied a group of approximately 20 volunteer students and teachers from the American University of Iraq- Sulaimani who went to Sulaimani’s Sarchinar district on a field trip. We went to clean up the Qeleyasa river which is considerably polluted and has major litter problems. The NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Nature Iraq helped organize the trip and taught the participants about the importance of protecting Iraq’s waterways.

Local farmers rely on the river to water their crops

 For me, it was an interesting and fun experience. Part of my enjoyment stemmed from the fact that we had such variety in our group. There were Americans, Kurdish and Arab Iraqis from diverse religious backgrounds who all worked together to clean up the river. Personally, participating in this project helped strengthen my resolve that people need to put more effort into saving our environment. We should make people aware of the size of this problem and strive to find solutions for it.

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Conference Calls Bridging Worlds

Four Iraqi university students during the teleconference with American students.

Sixty Iraqi students collected in a conference room, eyes glued to a TV that showed about forty American students smiling back.  After a brief introduction from both sides, students bravely shuffled forward to sit in a chair fitted with a microphone and a webcam with their peers surrounding them.  Students’ hesitation turned to confidence as the conversation progressed.  The questions morphed from the innocuous “What do you do on the weekends?” and “Why are Americans always smiling?” to the contentious “Do you ever feel physically threatened?” and “Why does the American government like controlling the whole world?”.  Thought provoking answers fell on fascinated ears from both ends.  As it turned out, both sides shared similar interests and difficulties.  Almost everyone enjoyed going to the movies and hanging out with friends and almost everybody faced too much homework and hard economic times.  After an hour and a half of meaningful exchange, my Iraqi students exited the conference room beaming on account of the bridge they had just constructed linking the two worlds.

The teleconferences were held via skype and projected onto a screen.

The idea started as a small pen pal exchange and quickly evolved into a full teleconference.  Students exchanged questions before hand, setting the basis from which a fantastic cross-cultural conversation blossomed.  Using the first conference as a stepping stone, I organized another one albeit with a more intimate atmosphere.

Four waving Iraqi students sat in a row facing a webcam and a microphone.  On the other end four American students waved back.  Based on information exchanged before the call, they traded probing questions about problems facing their societies.   The protests sweeping the Middle East including Iraq were of particular interest to both sides.  Identifying the corruption that runs like rain through Iraq, one student emphasized “before the war, we had one lion: Saddam.  Now we have many lions”.  Discrimination, corruption, and economic issues were highlights.  Of course, with the American students being in Cleveland, my Iraqi students were curious as to how a river could catch on fire.  Though we all had a good laugh about that one, it was a sad reminder about the pollution problems that both societies face.  As the conversation pushed on, superficial differences melted away, and students again realized that the similarities outweighed the differences.  After an hour and a half, everybody was all smiles; another bridge had been erected.

Out of focus students realize that there is much more that brings them together than that drives them apart.

The most recent teleconference involved about twenty of my Iraqi students and five American students.  Though politics made a brief appearance, they mostly wanted to escape to the land of pop culture.  Excited students listed American TV shows they loved (24, Prison Break, Lost) and exchanged their opinions on pop icons.  Sadly, only one American student knew some Arabic pop culture (none knew any Kurdish pop culture) but the others replied that they were eager to learn.  At the end of the teleconference, everyone was enthusiastic about continuing the conversation.  The American students set up a Facebook group and invited the Iraqi students to join.  They have since traded numerous messages back and forth.

This Fall I am planning a more intricate teleconference with Development Now members discussing sustainable development issues and conflict resolution in Iraq with masters students in America.  I hope it will be as successful as the other teleconferences have been bridging worlds.

Iraqi students and their English instructor

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