Posted by Jeff from bgp01107368bgs.wbrmfd01.mi.comcast.net (22.214.171.124) on Wednesday, April 24, 2002 at 9:17PM :
I am determined to take you up on this offer. From fred's favorite magazine:
REBUILDING OUR HOMELAND
I had first read about Dr. Ashur Moradkhan and his Atra Project late last year as I was skimming through an issue of Zinda.
Dr. Moradkhan stood out as he had been the first to try to reverse the trend of Assyrian emigration from our homeland. He was an Assyrian who had decided on emigrating from America back to our homeland in Northern Iraq.
I couldn't believe it.
The thought that we had a professional in the West who considered it important enough to donate his time and assist in rebuilding the infrastructure needed to help keep our people in our homeland was such a welcome surprise for me.
Being an Australian-born Assyrian and having no idea of what life was really like in Northern Iraq, my mind unconsciously drifted to the biased media induced thoughts of war and famine.
I also strangely recalled a story a good friend Ninos Toma had told me. In Northern Iraq, he explained, the legs of a bed sit in containers filled with water. These he claimed were used to deter scorpions that came out at night from getting into your bed by climbing the bedposts. Not exactly a point they should highlight on tourist brochures I had thought to myself at the time.
But reality is far stranger than fiction.
Sennacherib Daniel and I had finally made the decision to see it for ourselves and after days of travel we finally arrived in Northern Iraq.
Northern Iraq, which is currently under U.N. administration, is very peaceful. Although the main Assyrian and Kurdish political parties do have major differences, the Assyrian and Kurdish population who live in Northern Iraq do so in peace and with respect for each other's religions, language and culture.
Our peoples' morale had been greatly lifted by our presence. They were used to relying on themselves and welcomed any help their people from the West could offer them.
We were shown around Dohuk and introduced to various Assyrian organisations and schools. We toured the Assyrian villages and enquired about the villagers' status. Everywhere we went we heard praise for our very own Assyrian "Johnny Apple-seed" Dr. Ashur Moradkhan. Dr. Moradkhan had helped distribute close to 100,000 apple saplings throughout our villages in Northern Iraq to Assyrian farmers. This long-term project had helped to keep many Assyrians on their farms and would in the years to come also provide them with a future supply of food as well as generate income.
Although Dr. Moradkhan's assistance had, on the surface, appeared only financial, the major assistance provided was, and still is, morale.
I remember a programme that was advertised in Australia. Young skilled Australians would donate their time to a third world country and help rebuild its infrastructure using the skills they had acquired in Australia. Doctors, engineers, scientists, lawyers would all dedicate months to stay and help rebuild a third world country's infrastructure.
After seeing our people and our homeland for the first time and hearing of Dr. Moradkhan's work, Sennacherib and I both decided that we would should stop being tourists, roll up our sleeves and get to work assisting our people with their various humanitarian projects. We both had skills to offer and we knew the months to come would be busy ones indeed.
Having a computer background I decided to assist our people in modernising their media organisations by providing computer equipment, training and assistance. Having a background in the medical field meant that Sennacherib's skills would also be highly needed assisting our local doctors by touring remote Assyrian villages and administering medicine to our villagers.
But the work that needs to be done is great and our Assyrian professionals are few. Therefore on behalf of the Assyrian Aid Society based in Northern Iraq and its branches throughout the world, we call upon our skilled professionals, whether male or female, especially those born in the galoota (Diaspora) to make a difference in the lives of our people.
All it takes is a plane ticket and a minimum of one month of your time to assist our people. The Assyrian Aid Society - Iraq, will provide the rest.
It's also important to point out that giving is not necessarily a one-way street.
In the short time that Sennacherib and I have spent meeting and working with our people in Northern Iraq we have also re-acquired our cultural and linguistic skills that had long remained dormant in Australia.
Truth be known, the opportunity to immerse ourselves in our culture and language in the presence of our people in our homeland is a gift so priceless that it is really we who are profiting from the experience.
Please feel free to contact me via e-mail if you require further information or if you are interested in rolling up your sleeves and coming to Northern Iraq to assist the Assyrian Aid Society in making a difference in the lives of our people.
I look forward to seeing you in our homeland!
David "Tiglath" Chibo
Assyrian Aid Society - Australia
Arbil, Northern Iraq
[Zinda Magazine urges its readers to support the Atra Project by contacting their local Assyrian Aid Society chapter or write to Youel A Baaba at 720 Evelyn Court, Alamo, California 94507 U.S.A.]
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