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A New Chapter for the Kurdistan Region, Iraq Through 20,000 English Books

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It is no secret that the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has endured an unpleasant past. The nation fell victim of genocide campaigns, ethical cleansing and educational malnourishment. It is not undisclosed that the region is now booming, clear by the recently erected landscapes, growing land prices, and lots of oil transactions with foreign countries. However, there are still slight flaws in the system.

There is a lack of standardisation in the region that extends to the healthcare system, ICT infrastructure, continuing professional development programs and construction. Though, the nation and region is in an embryonic phase and is recognising gaps that need to be filled, either via foreign insight or local training. Consequently, it potentially opens a box of opportunities to everybody. The Kurdistan Regional Government works hard to tie collaborations and provide a safe haven for Kurds.

It is very important that the British system of tolerance, diplomacy and education is extended throughout the world. Equally important for the Kurdish Region, is to be receptive of foreign insight of systems and ensure systems exists to allow integration with local practices, that will allow further development based on knowledge transfer via case studies. We must utilise platforms that allow substantial difference to be made, in particular to regions that have suffered immense oppression and educational suppression. We all have an ambassadorial and moral duty as human beings to ensure knowledge and skills are transferred to disadvantaged individuals. This is achievable through the art of dialogue and diplomacy.

I decided to leave my footprint by arranging for Healthy Planet, a British Charity, to provide me with 20,000 British Books, so that I could transfer it to a deserted public library in the Kurdistan Region. This library is known as Bakrajo Public Library, which is located in an area called Bakrajo, within the Sulaimani Province, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. This library was empty and unheard of by the local community. The location has strategic value as it is between two major universities. It lies between the highly regarded governmental University of Sulaimani, and the private American University of Iraq, Sulaimani.

The hall that was to house the English collection was to be named after a renowned famous Kurdish poet that had no political affiliations. A group of volunteers, known as Vision, helped to filter the books and ensure appropriate shelving. Today, the library is buzzing. The local taxis know the exact location, as they seem to be feeling the demand of students, with a fresh pulse beating in the surrounding area.

The youth of Kurdistan have a deep desire to learn English and wish to shed light into British culture and traditions. It is extremely important for them to read novels and have this educational exposure, as it teaches the youth to think outside the box. It allows them to escape the modern world, and exercise their right to having the ability to dream and utilise their imagination.

Through education, we are able to acknowledge disabilities, such as Autism. Sadly, it is known that, in Kurdistan, disability is quite taboo and not fully understood, due to the lack of education that existed. However, this is changing and centres are opening to address specific conditions such as Autism. For instance, the charity, 'Kurdistan Save the Children', may be able to arrange for children to visit the library or have books borrowed out. Such books could aid the learning development of children with learning disabilities, due to the sensory stimulation, through sound effects, featured. Furthermore, the Disney collection undoubtedly increases the appeal and enthusiasm to learn.

The youth and public of the Kurdistan Region now have a wealth of books. They have the tools to become anything they desire and a platform to think independently and question beliefs. From such a small token, they could become leaders of tomorrow and will form fountains of hope for other generations. Undoubtedly, the Kurdistan Regional Government will and must ensure that the seeds of education are planted and nourished adequately throughout all the provinces, particularly as the era of Saddam Hussein is over, and a new chapter opens.