Building Classrooms as Incubators for Peace

Three Iraqi girls wear school uniforms and backpacks...they are excited to go to school!

Sometimes when you are different from your neighbours, it's dangerous.

Sometimes your difference comes with a whole lot of baggage. Even as a child, centuries of history are laid on your shoulders—a weight far too heavy for a young one to bear. Before learning multiplication tables many children learn that they are 'less than' because of their culture, their faith, or their race.

They learn that they are hated. And they learn to hate.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

There is a school here that has a bit of a reputation. It’s known for providing excellent education to neighbourhood kids. Run by the Chaldean church, the school has worked hard to care for their community. In fact, the church has taken in scores of families displaced by ISIS. But they have dreams for so much more.

They envision classrooms as incubators for peace.

Two young girls hold hands. They are wearing school uniforms and backpacks. It's still summer in Iraq, but they're excited to go to school!

The school has a plan: bring together Muslim and Christian children, give them an excellent education, and create activities that bring their two communities together. In essence—create a program specifically tailored to facilitate mutual understanding, then open that program wider to include other groups in this diverse Iraqi city.

In a country where cultural and religious divisions are often painted as thickly as kindergarten poster paints, this vision is remarkable.

But vision isn’t enough. And that’s where you come in.

You can help us provide a safe place for children to sit and learn to make peace. You can help us provide the whiteboards that will help children learn to read for the very first time. You can help create an environment where learning is possible.

Assembled desks, waiting to be placed into classrooms.

Desks don’t come ready-assembled here. When each and every two-seat desk was fastened together for the pilot class, it was the perfect metaphor for what is ahead: literally building a place where children can come together to learn, and to learn about each other, in safety. With that education, students will have the skills to cross dividing lines and to make peace.

The assembly of desks for an exciting, peace-building initiative, is in process.

Staff from our partner organization Iraq Health Aid Organization takes a break after assembling desks.

School desks as a tool to fight sectarianism in one of the most diverse and volatile cities in Iraq? Yes!

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About Erin Wilson

Communications Officer for Preemptive Love Coalition, based in Iraq. Photographer + artist, storyteller + story gatherer, peace maker + bridge builder, student + teacher, unrepentant lover of unexpected beauty.

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Waging Peace with Classrooms: Maryamana
Building Classrooms as Incubators for Peace
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