Monday, April 27, 2015

Let's visit grandma's kitchen!

 April 27, 2015 by mandalawi

My dearest loyal blog reader,

Take me to my grandmother’s kitchen, take me to her cozy home filled with love and care. Take me to her kitchen where every corner has a memory, where black and white photographs here and there make the past part of the present.

Take me, I won’t ask what she has cooked, I will know what’s for lunch just by the aroma in her kitchen. Take me, so once I have gobbled down every bit of food on my plate I can lean my head on grandma’s shoulder while she strokes her hand down my hair. She tells me stories of back in the day as tears fill her eyes. I tell her about life in the real world today, I take her words of wisdom while her arms are over my shoulder. Then grandma gets up and brings me chai (tea). You know, nothing tastes like tea made by grandma (not after Mam Khalil passed away).

I ask myself: Dear Sazan, how is it you feel this sensation and yearning even though the last time you sat on your grandma’s lap was well over two decades ago?

I will tell you why. In my nest, in Kurdistan, so many older women can have a grandma presence in our life. Like Pura Parwin. While she is known to be an aunt (Pura) for me it’s a different story.

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Good time spent with the girls, Saza Muhamad and I at Pura Parwin’s restaurant. Of course, in the company of Pura Parwin herself.
I met Pura Parwin in the Erbil orphanage once, as she had come to celebrate one of the children’s birthdays. Fast forward two weeks and the beautiful, and super amazing Saza  took me to Pura Parwin, ever since I feel her little restaurant/home is a grandmother’s kitchen. When I feel I need to be spoilt with the love of a grandma, it’s time to visit Pura Parwin. 
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While Pura Parwin refers to this place as her restaurant, it’s actually her little kitchen and home at the same time. The large kitchen is divided into three sections. A little living room, some chairs and tables and then the kitchen itself. We chose to have our lunch on the ground in the room section. It felt exactly like a grandmother’s house. The food is clean, and freshly cooked. The gathering was like that of a family home, to the extent we helped bring the food from the kitchen too.

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Once the sunsets Pura Parwin pulls down the curtains, locks the doors and what was a restaurant during the day, becomes her little home in the evening. Every day she is ready to serve guests from breakfast to an early dinner. All home cooked food.
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Pura Parwin’s is unlike any other restaurant owned and run by a woman, her company is what makes the lunch or even just the tea you drink that little bit extra special. She calls herself a therapist to so many who come and visit, a best friend to others, a mother and a grandmother. Each person who comes has a different connection with her. A unique bond. She solves people’s marriage problems, shares their laughter and speaks her funny experiences.

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Saza (not me, but my amazing friend) knows Pura Parwin well. As we walked in during our visit Pura Parwin almost danced in happiness hugging our Saza tightly. I imagine this is the exact happiness a grandmother receives when her grand-daughter goes to visit. After lunch is served, Pura Parwin takes a seat with us, our conversation becomes a very long one. Her words are full of wisdom, optimism and she is a source of inspiration. I see the pure love Saza and her share with one another. She is not just a restaurant owner, who cooks clean, tasty home-made food, but an individual who plays a critical role in the lives of so many of her customers.

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I don’t think I have ever been this comfortable being anywhere in Erbil. It felt so much like home. So comfortable. So cozy. Pura Parwin represents a strong woman who has built something out of nothing, a true entrepreneur. Many who had her situation may have resorted to begging on the streets, but no, this woman commited herself to work; enough work to pay for her son’s education as well.

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Pura Parwin’s medical cabinet

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Pura Parwin’s collection of books
I love the little details in this place. I look at the books that keep this elder woman company in her lonely nights. I wonder how it is for her, once she closes down for the day and pulls down the curtains. I see the little cupboard where she keeps her clothes, the little medicine cabinet….I worry for her. A few nights after I visited Pura Parwin I was in bed under two blankets, I could hear the wind and rain against my bedroom window. I immediately thought how she felt right then, remembering what she had said to me “the TV and my books keep me company till I fall asleep.”

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Pura Parwin’s little red car
Did I mention Pura Parwin drives? Except now her little red car has stopped working, and instead it’s used as a store room for the extra bits and pieces she has. I love the simplicity in her life, the way she lives. I don’t know how to explain this: She is lonely, but at the same time every visitor has become her family.
I learn a lot from her experience and story, however, I have some views which I prefer to keep to myself. You might also observe them once you visit!

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I wish I could give you an exact address, you enter it into your GPS and find your way to Pura Parwin, but the reality is we are in Erbil and giving an address is a living nightmare. Let alone receiving directions from me! In short, the little restaurant is located on the opposite side to Majidi Mall in Hawleri Nwe. If you want to visit it is best to call and get directions once you have crossed Majidi Mall: 0750 390 9506 or 0750 376 4078
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If you do visit Pura Parwin please let me know how the experience was. Don’t be shy to socialize with her, you might just find yourself another grandmother like figure in your life.

Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan
Sazan,

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dear world, I request a leave.




The doctor instructed I rest. 

And for a good five weeks I spent my days half asleep on the sofa, sitting in the garden and in between having needles drain out the slight bit of blood I have in my little body. I was on sick leave. This, my dear reader, made me realize we all need a leave, not from work, but from the world. 
Photo: Pennlive

I was on leave not just at work, but leave from Twitter tweets, from Instagram pictures, Facebook feeds, leave from shopping, and ladies and gentleman, sick leave from the world’s news. 

Hibernating has taught me quite a bit. 

So many of our illness come from stress, and something us Kurds call ‘kham’ (the definition I can think of here is grief). My people happen to know Mr. Kham a little too well as life hasn't always been rosy for our people.

I learned ignorance is bliss. Before this sick leave for nights on end I had nightmares of pictures I saw, families I witnessed mourning the loss of their loved ones and children crying. The harsh reality of our world haunted me in my sleep. Then again, in real life we can’t live in blindness, nor can we stay silent against the atrocities we see.

Mentally I felt so much at peace not knowing much. I remember at one point a dear one switched off the Wifi at home when the owner of my favourite teashop in Erbil died. Just so I could sleep that night without finding out. 

I spent hours on end sitting, observing the birds in my father’s garden. He would tell me about their different personalities while I watched how they ate, how they interact with one another and heard their tweeting. My friend, I heard the tweeting of real birds that flap their wings and fly, not the twitter feed tweeting on my phone.

As much as I was pushing people away- literally! There were individuals who would drop off a plate of dolma, or come by and sit with me in the garden when I couldn’t move a single muscle. I would find surprises behind our entrance door, letters and lots of miss calls (let’s just ignore the fact that more than half were work related!). I was reminded once again the close people in our life matter.

During my 'sick' days a friend, J.J. on holiday, who was thinking of me. Little things make a huge difference. 

It doesn’t make a difference how many Twitter followers you have, how many Facebook likes you get, or how many people double tap your Instagram picture. You can have four hundred Facebook friends, but when you have no one to ask how you're doing when you are down and unwell then what’s the use?!

I am back now. No longer on leave. But I carry the lessons with me. 
  • When with people, the phone should be not seen, not heard. 
  • When at home put the Wifi on, use the internet when needed then turn it back off. The continuous notifications give a sense that it’s the end of the world if one doesn’t see the new comment made.
  • Stock up on new books and board games to enjoy. Once there is less internet in your life you realize that 24 hours is actually a lot of time (that is, if you don’t have an 8-5 job).
  •  Follow the news. But not every minute of every day. You could, and you would love to, but a morning and an evening read suffices.
  • Make a solid effort to appreciate and notice the little things- like the new plant in the garden or the flower that has just flourished.  
  • Finally, our body is the most precious machine. The mind and soul above all; look after them well. Don’t take your good health for granted. 
Enjoying pomegranate with none other than my baaba

Writing all this makes me wonder: Wouldn't it be great if we were all able to take a leave from the world every now and then? I feel so many people in Kurdistan need a leave. They need to live stress free days without Kham, days without fearing their or their children's future, days without hearing news that shatters their heart. The people of my land deserve to be happy.

My heart goes out to all the families suffering in Kurdistan right now, in particular those who have lost their loved ones on the front lines to keep our land safe. I feel your pain.

I don’t know how long I will last, but for the time being, I feel much lighter, happier and above all, healthier.

Meanwhile, blogging is back on my 'to do' list, and I have some amazing people, places and things to tell you about, so please drop by (with your cup of chai) when you can.

Lots of love
From my nest in Kurdistan 

Sazan,

O' so cozy O'ccaffe!


Loyal readers,
Ask anyone these days and we are all somehow stressed, tired, over thinking and just… had enough! If you are an expat here or someone who wants to relax in a place with a lot of western atmosphere, yet classic and cozy I think I’ve managed to find you something that you will like (thank me later, it’s ok). A chitchat? Something nice to eat? Perhaps even a casual work meeting or.. you know, just somwehere for you and your laptop? Look no further than O’ccaffe.
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O’ccaffee – Erbil, Ankawa Photo: Their Facebook page! :)

I looooooved the lighting here. It is perfect. It doesn’t blind you. They have lamps! Lamps people, lamps. What a world of difference a small bookshelf and some lamps make to any cafe, and guess what? O’ccaffe has both!
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Feels like your own living room
The food is beautifully presented and arrives with a blink of an eye. I was still admiring the decor, and before I knew arrived the mouth-watering large pizza (I love the thin crust, it was too good to be true) and an amazingggg salad! Oh so fresh!

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A very poor attempt of taking an artistic photograph of a plate. The message is: It was yummy yum-yum! Photo: Yours truly :)
You know why I really fell in love? Because there is absolutely no need to fake cough a billion times till the person behind you understands not to blow his cigarette smoke into your lungs, nor do you have to be self consious if you visit alone with a notebook, pen and a laptop. Drop by, and let me know what you think.

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Here is the O’ccaffe Erbil, Ankawa phone number: 0750 395 6485  and Facebook page I think for a larger group you need to call and make a reservation.

This post is not an advertisement. I (and, of course, Mr. Husband) just happen to like it there and thought I would share my latest find with you loyal readers.

Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan
Sazan,

Young Women of Kurdistan - The change maker series, part II

February 15, 2015 by mandalawi

I am sitting with this wonderful young Kurdish woman somewhere that I would have never found if it wasn’t for her. I am not surprised this is where she comes to hang out. It reflects a lot about her personality. After all, only people who know the real meaning of life will come here (hang in there, more about where we are at a later post) the point is, I am sitting on the floor, face to face, with one of those Kurdish girls who has turned all her challenges and sorrows in life into positive energy to change the life of others. Her name? Saza. Yes, I have picked up one extra letter from her name, and if I had 1% of her inner soul beauty than I consider myself lucky.

great girls of Kurdistan
Saza Muhamad

Profile
Name: Saza Muhammad
Age: 28 years old
Education: Political Science graduate, Salahaddin University
Profession: Journalist (I must add here, Saza is also a full time volunteer)
This is the girl who cleaned groceries while holding the book with her feet as she studied. The girl who lost her mother at a time in her life when she needed her most, the girl who cares about her society, her people, the one who wants to leave this world knowing she left something for others.

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There are girls in my life who in the presence I feel I am learning, even from their silence. I learn from every move and every word they say. They are like walking teachers. Life time teachers. Saza is top ranked in this list. This young Kurdistani girl makes you feel safe, in her presence you feel there are perfect beings in this world who only want to do good in their life.

The type who doesn’t compare herself to anyone else but works to make herself a better person, and achieve her own goals; Saza makes me believe a woman has a purpose to live. The commitment, love and time she gives her family is just as grand as what she puts into her friendship and work with vulnerable people.


I have seen this girl mix with orphan children. I feel she is a mother to them all, she feels she is responsible to the children’s happiness, their wellbeing.  If I had a little of Saza’s heart, if I could only take in everything I learn from her everytime I see her, I am grateful. She was one of the active people in the donations campaign to Hujam Surchi in Erbil and many other voluntary events that restulted in massive success.
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Mandalawi: Saza, tell me about you.
Saza: She begins with a smile that tells me “where do I began”
For two years I volunteered with Dilvia, I worked most on the Dream projects. My mother, god bless her soul, may she rest in peace, was unwell for many years of her life before she left but she continued to help people till her last breath. When I was 18, in my first year of university she died. I lost my emotional support… In a family of nine she was the closest to me. I never ate a single meal if she wasn’t sitting next to me. The person I wanted most in my life left me. I began visiting the orphanage, the elderly people’s home, you can say I continued life by keeping my mother’s soul alive. I began sharing a never ending love with vulnerable people in our community, a type of love that came with a lot of responsibility.

Saza campaign
Saza Muhamad during the donations campaign for Martyr Hujam Surchi

Mandalawi: What do you live for?
Saza: Helping people. Being part of people’s lives. Whoever needs help, young or old. I am the happiest when I am part of people’s or see their smile. Sometimes I walk in the street I don’t know anyone, but I start a conversation, if they smile, I feel really happy. In my writing I try to focus a lot on people’s lives and their personal stories.

Saza & Pura Parwin
Saza introduced me to Pura Parwin. More on her in a different post. I promise

Mandalawi: Challenges? I ask and sigh, because I wonder how she will answer this question, knowing that Saza’s story is not an easy one.

Saza: I believe in one thing, whenever you are different, or want to do something different then you automatically face challenges. This is normal. I have come to accept this reality. If I sat down, didn’t move, of course I  wouldn’t be confronted with such challenges in my life. My sisters who are much humbler than I am don’t expereince these difficult encounters. I am the odd one out (laughs). The crazy one.

Mandalawi’s note: I notice in Kurdish households in particular the traditional ones the ‘crazy’ in the family is the change maker, the outcast, the black sheep. The one who has to fight and argue to prove it is worth doing what she does.


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Mandalawi: Take me through a day in your life
Saza: I always write three most important things for the day to do, work related or not. But I always have three dot points hand written. A day doesn’t go pass with a dose of news from all around the world, I work on a newspaper website so that’s part of my job. I have a training once a week which I do, I am learning a lot from that, and of course I do housework with my stepmother. Even before my mother passed away I took on the role in the house because she wasn’t well. Shopping is also on me! (She smiles. God I love this girl’s smile)

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Mandalawi: Your dreams in life?
Saza: Laughing* “I have made a list of 100 dreams, how do you want me to choose only 3?
We begin talking and our conversation takes many turns, that I stop asking the questions I had prepared. Saza tells me about how we must work so that dreams don’t just remain a dream. She tells me about books she reads, her relationship with her 17 nieces and nephews and we go back to her ultimate wish to do a masters degree in Kurdistan, but when door after door closes she knows very well the only solution is a trip to the UK. When and how, she doesn’t know just yet, but she knows the traditional girl from Qaladze will travel on a plane and pursue her postgraduate studies only to fly back to her nest and complete a lifetime journey she has already began. A journey where people need her in their lives.

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I love going somewhere to see Saza come in with a wide dressed elegently in her simple Jli Kurdi (Kurdish traditional clothes). I love how traditional yet simple, beautiful, educated and down to earth Saza can be. Saza is the girl who you look at and want your sister, daughter, and everyone else around you to have a little of her. She is the girl who you are proud to introduce to anyone you know, you are proud to introduce her as a Kurdish girl. I know one day this young girl in her one ways will make huge changes in Kurdistan’s society. She is alredy making that difference. She is a beacon of hope.

Follow Saza on Twitter right here. I am in the process of persuading Saza to open her own blog, and once she does, you can be part of her journey.

lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan
Sazan,

Valentines Day in Kurdistan - Forget the red rose!


Oh yes! That time of year. My dearest most loved loyal blog reader(s), it only took a walk through Family Mall and a drive in Ankawa earlier this week to realize the red-Valentine fever is here too! Women’s clothing shops have all their red dresses on the mannequins, shops with stationery supplies have the entire red theme going on (I have a picture to prove) And Family Mall for example has their usual Valentine’s Day love seat for couples to take pictures on.

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Kurdish woman making her lover’s gift, the Kurdistani way. Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images, taken from here
I will keep my ramblings and arguments of Valentine’s Day to myself this time. However, in times of war, conflict, hatred and in a world of killing I welcome any gesture of love and will not stand or speak against it. In my part of the world some people don’t even know Valentines Day exists, others plan their wedding dates on this day. Some celebrate it not knowing  the story behind it’s existence, and there are others who find it shameful to wear red on February 14th suggesting that it’s screaming out loud and clear: “People! I AM  IN LOVE!” Hence, mixed thoughts on this issue.
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In Kurdistan, red apple with cloves, symbolizing love Photo: Safin Hamed, taken from this article

Society in general hasn’t made up its mind yet to accept or refute. I would love to celebrate a day of love if the occasion commemorated some of the biggest lovers/ love stories in Kurdish literature. I’d feel like I own the occasion more. Or instead of chocolates, red roses and teddy bears we can give the traditional sewi mekhik, the apple with cloves? There is so much Kurdish culture we can use, but unfortunately it doesn’t have as much publicity or propaganda as those of the west, and hence, we opt to forget our culture and just… go with the teddy, red rose and the chocolates. Do I make sense? No? Any-howwww.

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My never ending love for Nergis flowers fresh from the mountains of Kurdistan. Spring has come early!
Celebrate love my dearest. Celebrate it today, tomorrow, every February 14th and every other day of the year too! In the meantime this week I felt March has arrived early and the sight of the Nergis (narcissus) has taken my heart away! If you’re celebrating… how about some Nergis flowers to your love instead of the typical red rose? Let’s add a bit of Kurdish-ness to the day!
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Made with love in Kurdistan Photo: Safin Hamed

Love you always
From My Nest in Kurdistan
Sazan,

The preservation of a red apple with cloves is a Kurdish tradition symbolizing Adam and Eve’s relation with the apple, representing love and prosperity”
Read more: http://kirkuknow.com/english/index.php/2013/02/kirkuk-celebrates-valentine/#ixzz3RhDsFdrb

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Young women of Kurdistan- The change maker series: Part I

Loyal blog readers,

I am on a mission. Of all the great and wonderful and amazing and just… super great people that cross my everyday life I will post an eight week series. One Kurdistani girl a week on the blog. I want to introduce you to these remarkable young women who are full of energy, inpiration and are sources of hope.
I couldn’t resist but open the series with none other than….

She resembles hope, strength, coexistance, love and team work.

Profile
Name: Shan Kameran Bakir
Profession: Dentist, but that’s just a different story. Founder and General Manager of Dilvia NGO
Age: 25

We met last year (gosh! If I put it that way it sounds like such a long time ago. You know, 2014) I saw her doing a presentation, and admired her right then and there. Fast forward a few months I found myself in the hottest summer mornings, in my tracksuits at her house, 8 am. I must add it was Ramadan.

Beware her smile is contagious.

 My purpose was to join in the Ramadan Basket project she and her team of volunteers had. The point is, I woke her up from sleep, a little too early (I had my excuses) for our pre arranged meeting. She sat me in her family’s living room. I wish I recorded our conversation. The woman I was sitting next to was the purest being in the world. I asked, she answered. I asked, she answered. No, not an interrogation. But one of those meetings where you feel Oprah (no, I wasn’t Oprah. Though I wouldn't mind hehe) is talking to the most inspiring woman on the planet. A smooth conversation from culture, to politics, to her challenges, to family… It was that Ramadan morning I knew I have met someone in my life that will one day change the world. That is, if she hadn’t already done so.
At the clinic thinking of her ‘other life’ that definitely
doesn’t include teeth. Don’t call her “Dr.” she doesn’t like it. Simple.
 Sitting in her family’s living room, observing a wall of pictures, memories, siblings’ graduation, proud parents, I knew this living room is filled with love, a comfortable nest. The girl sitting in front of me has gone through the most extreme circumstances in life, and in front of her I feel I have accomplished nothing in this world to better anyone’s life. She is a girl who can relate to all, a simple hard-working family who have extraordinary heart have raised an angel. Every since that meeting, everytime I met Shan I have had the same feeling.


 She is the girl who never stops smiling, the one with the colourful hijab, the most down to earth being I have come across. Shan is the one who is always listening to others, but when she speaks you want to just sit and observe her passion in every word she says. The type whose eyes say a million words, and when she is happy or excited they give a diamond-like shine that is so pure… and full of hope. She is those girls that you miss to see if weeks pass without meeting her, the one who literally loves life and cares more about people than anything. Shan is the bubbly personality, the one who can empathize with all, the loyal friend, the older sister, and, in my opinion, the change maker. If these aren’t good enough reasons for you to get to know her more, then I don’t know what is.

Her family home is a hub for all friends and volunteers
I asked her some questions (she wrote the responses) so are you ready? Get your tea (coffee, juice, milk or your bag of junk food) and enjoy a casual conversation with Shan, right here, on the blog.

Mandalawi: Let’s start broad, how would you introduce yourself? What do you do?

Shan: I’m just another person in this world who didn’t accept to surrender to the bad and negative influence we grow up with in our society… I just believed that I can make a difference with my own simple effort… then I got surprised by all the people who wanted to help as well… when I decided to dedicate my time in serving others… that is actually when I start living…
what I do? I’ve graduated to be a Dentist! Although I never found myself in this job… so I started to follow my passion in helping others and now I’m the founder and general manager of Dilvia charity organization…and I’m working on developing this volunteer work into my all-day Job so I can get access and dedication on helping more people
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Everything Shan does she does it with a huge group of volunteers

 (Sazo, If I sound cheezy please help) [No Shan, not cheeeeezy at all, and I will keep every word you write. Hehe]..

Mandalawi: What’s your journey so far, how did you get to where you are today?
Shan: I had to fight a lot of challenges.. I cried a lot.. I got depressed and disappointed by the society’s ideas and traditions that stood in my way… but I literally never gave up… I couldn’t..because it was a way of breathing to me .. as soon as I found my dream and found myself in it I wouldn’t think for a moment to let it go…
Shan, always a candle of hope
 The challenges included restrictions and bad expectations from all the people I knew who thought that I was wasting my time and I would never help someone if I wasn’t “well-known” or “rich” …









 but on the other hand… there was a few people who believed in me and supported me in a way I will never forget… all I needed was to keep going and insisting on my belief … and everything went perfectly amazing









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Sazan: One day, I hope you get to meet Shan, and let her share with you the challenges. No matter how much I write it won’t be the way she describes it. I love how she calls it challenge, while others would call the same experience problem/setback or end of road. See how amazing this girl is?


Mandalawi: What is your passion? What do you live for?


Shan: The smile I see when I help someone … the great feeling I have when someone tells me that “he wanted to help a lot but didn’t know how until he met me”…my dedication is to share a way of happiness and satisfaction in life and help my society to develop and start seeing peace and love spread instead of poverty and hatred or racism



 Mandalawi: How is a day in your life like?
Shan: A day of my life would be hopefully an unpredicted day … it’s in my personality “bad and good in the same time” that I hate routine and planned days… but it should include (I won’t sleep if it doesn’t):
– Work related to Dilvia
– Workout for at least 30 min.
– Reading a book for at least 30 min.
– Be there for one of my friends who needed support

Put Shan with a little child or an elderly man
 at the Elderly People’s Home and she can laugh
and get a long with both.
Sazan: Her last point is so true. She provides psych-social support to like a billion girls; Facebook, over the phone, on text messages or in face-to-face meetings. I mean it. Every. Single. Day.

Mandalawi: Your source of support? What or who keeps you going?
Shan: For me it’s basically my close friends… they are the only people in my life who supported me in my dreams… unfortunately.
and also some books and writers like Paulo Coelho and Stephen Covey.
Sazan: Why she says unfortunately? Long story.

Mandalawi: What challenges do you face in what you do?
Shan: My first challenge was my family…because they thought it was a waste of time and money, and it’s quite dangerous for me in to do so…


It is not like they didn’t want me to support but in our country its so frightening for a young girl to mingle and get in close relation with a lot of strangers and having people know you in the society is super challenging… according to them “it’s a bad a thing”
The other challenges was people misunderstand my intention.. or paper-work challenges in getting access to people in need… but thank god non of the challenges were so serious that it stopped me from preceding.

Sazan: Her challenges with her family five years back reflects the challenges many Kurdish girls may face in this society.

Mandalawi: How do you deal with those challenges

Shan: after all.. my family gave up on stopping me after a lot of fighting and in a way or another now they are supporting me 




….how I deal with them?…. I actually cry! But I never surrender … a lot of time I was working with tears all over the place but I never stopped working ….

Shan donating blood with her father and sister

Sazan: Who was it that said tears are signs of strength? And remember Shanoo “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.” And we all know how colourful and bright your soul is.

Mandalawi: Anything we should keep an eye on? Future plans/ projects?

Shan: Plans for Dilvia (my passion engine):
– Facilitate the donation ways for whom want to help
– Help the IDPs and refugees to survive this crisis until they go safely home
– Support the peshmarge families in this hard war times
– Encourage the youth to serve more in their society and improve their country

For Shan, it's all about working together
 Mandalawi: Three dreams in your life

Shan: Although I don’t like specific dreams… the sky is the limit for my ambition but if I have to put them in three lines it would be
– Make dilvia international and have access to all the people in need
– Be a living example of a young girl that nothing could stop her from fighting and fingerprint her life (for all the girls who think they can’t help in this world)
– Improve my fitness and health to be in a level of an athlete



Mandalawi: Any advice for other girls in Kurdistan

Shan: I advice them all to believe in themselves… the only bounderies is only found in our minds … I thought it was only a nice-speech line.. but its not… I know it … put your priority to your dreams and passions… don’t listen to the stupid restrictions… they will all fade away in front of your will… you deserve to live your life with passion, so do it.. just DO IT… we can add beauty to our grace country… and its getting to a higher place so take your chance and participate in this upcoming developement…. you will regret it if you don’t…


Sazo I wasn’t brief at all …. I won’t blame you if you won’t read it but I really enjoyed this … I was smiling all the time

Sazan: I read every single word Shanoo. And I have decided to keep it all the same. Just like you wrote it. It’s you!

The perfect role model
 We will need hours for Shan to speak of her endless challenges. Maybe an 8 am visit in her family living room on a Ramadan morning. I take this opportunity to apologize for that very insensitive act, but we laugh it off now when ever we remember.

Shan’s family home has become a place for volunteering activities, meetings,
NGO office, stocking of donations
No words can describe Shan. She is just Shan. The girl you call, but her phone is always busy, then she calls you back, and is ready to say: “Let’s meet in an hour” no matter when and where.
Until next Wednesday night Shan is the hero of the week, the month, the year, the hero in the life of all of us who know her, and all those she helps without even realizing!

Dilvia... all this and more. Indeed.
 You can contact Shan through Facebook here, or like the Dilvia page right here.

 Pictures: All photos for this blog post were stolen by me from Shan’s Instagram, Facebook and here and there (with full permission. I swear.)