Recently I went out to find girls in Geripan, the village where I have been coming for years and spent a lot of time with the children and women, with a children’s club, a crochet club and once an English summer course for about 100 children.
Since I have the children’s center I regularly take the children there, a morning away from the dust and ruins. But that day I have another mission. like most of my plans, they have been brooding in my mind for months or so. I’m going to look up the girls and register names that want to join the Shine program. I come to the first address. Well, first I left my pick-up along the side of a sandy path because the rest of the path is no longer passable. Grandma is very excited when she sees me and immediately makes room for me on the mat where she is sitting. I kiss her hand and in her deep bass voice (from all the smoking) she grumbles away; that I have abandoned her and never come. Anyway, I’m used to grumbling, that’s actually standard with every household I haven’t been to for a while. She commands the rest to fetch water for me and grumbles gruffly about how I don’t help them and the neighbors do, and then she says we’re going to make you dinner, you have to eat with us, et cetera, et cetera. The girls laugh at how grandma goes on stubbornly and I try to tell her why I’m here every time. All that grumbling is out of love, I suppose.
The girls, Samiya is 14, Rahaf is 12, are immediately enthusiastic when I tell them about Shine lessons and crafts and are happy to join me to drum up the other girls. On the way, their girlfriends are already hopping towards us. At the row of houses; most of them unfinished, girls, children and their mothers come from every nook and cranny. And my list of names is quickly being added to. One of the older girls spontaneously offers to hold the lessons in her house and everyone agrees. Five girls lead me further through the village. A group of men is also interested, can’t we also give lessons about life, but then for men they ask. Hévíya Xwede, if God help me and I can instruct a lad maybe we can do this one day.
The girls walk ahead of me, they giggle and whisper but don’t miss a single house and so we can invite the girls who left school a long time ago and hardly ever participate in anything. There are fathers who don’t allow their girls to participate in many activities outside the home, especially when they get a little older. They do not want to expose them and attract the attention of the boys. Other girls who enjoy more freedom then say, oh their fathers are jealous. That is why it is so good to keep these activities ‘safe’ in the village so that all girls can participate. Here and there we avoid the dangerous looking dogs and we step over the streams of black stinking goop like in most places in Kurdistan there is no drainage system and all the water from the kitchen and laundry room flows over the street and in between the houses and tents and find a road to lower parts of the village.
Back at Samiya and Rahaf’s house, I sit next to mother outside in the sun, a goat lamb, the kind with gigantic long ears, dribbles around me. There is no trace of grandma, she is probably within a nap. Wednesday is the holy day on which people don’t wash and so the women also have some rest.
The next day it is full house, at Julia’s house we are with 22 girls. There is attentive listening and a lot of fun when we start the hand massages and crafts. The neighbor also comes to watch from the flat roof. The women give the young girls these afternoons, but would also like to participate. Who knows, we may soon start a group for them as well.
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