Arab Youth Climate Movement

Written by Karzan Fadhil. The Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) Workshop was a seven-day workshop organized for the first time in Cairo, Egypt at the Wadi Environmental Science Centre. It was organized by IndyAct partnered with 350, GCCA, DEMENA, and CAN. The aim of the workshop was to empower participants to be influential climate movement leaders in the Arab region and to build their capacities by teaching them new strategies to effectively involve in the climate movements. At the workshop, we learned how to both assemble local grassroots movements and raise awareness of the local residents about climate change and its devastating impacts in their countries.
AYCM outsideIt was a selective workshop that 20 climate leaders were accepted out of a pool of 500 applicants in the Middle East and Northern Africa based on their extensive experience in the environment and climate change movements. Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) was launched by the 20 climate leaders prior to the UNFCCC COP18 Doha negotiations, and it was established to create a wide movement to solve climate change crisis throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
During the workshop there were many knowledgeable facilitators from different countries,
 such as U.S, UK, Lebanon, and including Egypt who are strongly engaged in the climate
 environmental movements. Also, it is worth mentioning that diversity was one of the strengths of the workshop that most of the environmental activists and climate leaders had come from different countries, such as Iraq, UAE, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Mauritania, Algeria, Oman, Jordan, Palestine, and Bahrain.
Karzan Fadhil in front of the Pyramids in EgyptAlthough many people in Iraq applied to the workshop, I was the only candidate chosen to
 attend. I participated as a student at The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) and as a Development Club member. Eventually, Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) was launched and the participants were selected as the National Coordinators of (AYCM) for their countries, and the workshop culminated with giving the participants certificates for their accomplishment to continue their role as the National Coordinators in their countries. Now my role as the National Coordinator of AYCM for Iraq is to bring youths together from different parts of Iraq and establish AYCM Iraq, which will take a powerful and a crucial role in the climate movements and mobilizing communities in the Arab region and outside, so those people who are interested in working and collaborating with AYCM are more than welcome to join us by filling out the online application.
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Save the Marshes and the Tigris River

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Karzan Fadhil. July 14, 2012. Save the Marshes and the Tigris River was an inaugural conference held by the Civil Development Organization (CDO) to raise awareness of local residents about the dams that have been constructed on the borders between Iran-Iraq and Turkey-Iraq. The conference was held after a long time of exceeding the international laws of natural resources rights and water laws by Turkey. Many non-governmental organizations (NGO)s attended the conference and showed their concern about the dams, especially the Iliso dam, which is a project being built by Turkey on the Tigris River without any convention signed by Iraq or Turkey. If the Ilisu Dam is constructed, it will inundate the town of Hasankeyf, which is an ancient town rich with its history, including its villages and heritage that have existed for centuries.

Now, due to the Ilisu Dam the entire region is at risk of being submerged with the completion of the project. One thing that is worth mentioning is that European countries have stopped reinforcing the project since 2008 due to the disadvantages and the adverse effects of the project on Iraq and the villages where the dam is built, but some of the Middle Eastern countries that Iraq calls them “fraternal countries” or “neighboring countries” underpin the project of the Iliso dam and show support for it.

During the Conference, Dr. Azam Alwash, the director of Nature Iraq, gave a presentation about the dams and the devastating effects they have on Iraq and the nearby regions. He stated that if the Iliso dam is finished, farmers in Iraq will starve and most of the agricultural lands in Iraq will dry up. Subsequently, the dams that have been constructed by Iran on the rivers that flow down the mountains in Iraq were discussed. Furthermore, Iran has constructed nine dams on the rivers flowing through the regions of Iraq, so since Iran built the dams, the water of the rivers has decreased dramatically, and most of the rivers in Iraq have been dry, including the agricultural lands nearby the rivers. Consequently, at the end of the conference, the members of the NGOs decided to take all the necessary actions and preliminary steps to induce the international organizations to stop Turkey from building the Iliso dam.

The Green Music and Arts Festival in Sulaimani, Iraq

Although the Green Music and Arts Festival was on the 20th of April, our work in the Development Club started weeks before that. We began by sharing what each of us had in mind for the games that we needed to build for the festival. Our ideas had to be simple but at the same time they had to be creative.

We all had amazing ideas. The games had to be made from recycled materials to fit with the environmental theme, so we looked around campus for spare wood, cardboard, and plastic. We built the games, painted them and the results were perfect. Mr. Kevin practiced some songs with his Guitar Club students and they translated some verses of the song “Imagine” by John Lennon into Kurdish.

On the festival’s day, we started the preparations early in the morning, and it was lots of fun to prepare for it. We even played some games during the preparations. Azadi Park, where the festival was held, was a really beautiful place, and it was an ideal spot for students and teachers alike to gather and enjoy their time.

There were three hosts for the festival including myself, and the performances were presented by the hosts in English, Kurdish, and Arabic to enhance the ability of the audience to culturally relate to the performances and make a sense of cultural unity among the people. During the festival there was an elocution contest among the students of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. They each presented the same environmentally themed Kurdish poem that was translated into English. It was a really creative event overall, and it showed the students’ talents from different aspects.

One of the things I really enjoyed was drawing the American, Kurdish, and Iraqi flags on children’s faces and on adult’s faces too. It highlighted the cultural unity that brought us all together for one cause: helping our environment.

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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)

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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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