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January 26, 2022
Social Justice

I learned that humanity must be embraced before any religion

The voice of Anfal Aziz, interviewed by Sara Manisera, FADA Collective

Peace Workshops is a project founded in Iraq thanks to the NGO Un Ponte Per, which has been active in the country since 1991. It is a place where young iraqis from different cultures, religions and ethnic groups can share experiences, learn, play sports, carry out voluntary work for their communities and together build another Iraq, free from violence and conflicts between the different ethnic groups living there. 

Voice Over Foundation has decided to support the Peace Workshops and the Iraqi youth, because we believe it is important to offer those young people, born and raised after 2003, during the conflict, and therefore deprived of rights, the right to build their own future. 

Interview with Anfal Aziz, educator.

Q: Could you introduce yourself? Who are you and what do you do? 

A: My name is Anfal Aziz, I was born on June 20, 1996, in Nineveh Governorate Nimrud district, Sayed Hamad village, Iraq. During the occupation of the Islamic State, I faced many problems, difficulties, and harassment, and I became a victim of ISIS. I could not complete my studies and be an educated woman. After the liberation of Nineveh Governorate, I was able to return to my studies and graduated from middle school, after which I was accepted into the college of arts, department of art education. Through my studies, I was able to join the field of work in civil society organizations, where I worked as an educator for two years with the UPP organization as part of its project Peace Workshops. Through this project, I was initially able to build my own personality because I was a very shy person. I also got to know colleagues from all religions and components, and I realized at that time that I had discovered misconceptions that I was ignorant of about other components, and then I learned that humanity must be embraced before embracing any religion.

Q: Can you tell us more about your life under the Islamic State? 

A: Under the control of the Islamic State, ignorance and fear dominated our minds, and ISIS planted terror and hate in our hearts and towards other components of the society. Thanks to civil society organizations and thanks to UPP organization, which was the first organization operating in our areas, I was able to turn this ignorance and hatred into humanitarian initiatives, peace and acceptance of the other. I am now very happy because I live in a society inhabited by all components and nationalities, as if we were a bouquet of multicolored flowers.

Q: Why did you decide to change and to commit yourself in peace building activities? What does it mean for you Peace Workshops? 

A: We need projects that connect all the components of the society, as the Peace Workshops project, which was able to break many restrictions and barriers between us. It also helped to build the capabilities of women and also through it we worked on building peace between the components of the Nineveh Plain. I believe that diversity is a strength and I will blind myself with all my energy to preserve this diversity. I also worked in the field of handicrafts, teaching Kufic calligraphy, drawing and knitting, and I contributed to the training of women who were victims of society, customs and traditions, and victims of ISIS, and these women, in turn, became brave and are now aware of their rights. Like many other Iraqi women, I have been subjected to violence, marginalization, exclusion but we must be strong, fight extremism and be part of the change because women have the energy to contribute in changing the societies.

Photo by: Arianna Pagani, FADA collective.

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