In Iraq, thousands of girls and boys who fled the war are going home to their villages, or what remains of them. Many of them are just going back to piles of rubble, ransacked homes, threatening graffiti, unexploded bombs and the ruins of schools and public buildings.
“We went to visit them in March. We renovated 3 schools and officially handed them over to the Iraqi Education Minister on 15th May. Because of this project, 1,600 students returned to safe and welcoming schools” says Ettore Acocella, Un Ponte Per Head of Development Projects in Iraq.
Most of these students fled their homes in the Nineveh Plain in the summer of 2014, when Daesh occupied the region, triggering the flight of 965,000 Iraqis.
Our priority must be ensuring that boys and girls returning to their villages can attend safe and clean schools which inspire them to study and help them get back to a normal life. Many of these children have lived for years in refugee camps, far from toys, schools, their own homes and the normal life they need.
Education is the key, together with integration, to peace.
RESTORING 4 SCHOOLS
We are currently working on the renovation of 4 more schools, 3 of which are the only schools in the area. They are in the villages of Kanhash, Shamseyat Badra, Basekhra and Qaraqosh.
We plan to install a new electrical system, and replace windows and toilets. We will build new classrooms and playgrounds and renovate the old ones that are now in ruins.
What could be more important than this? Facilitating the building of a peaceful society in the schools.
Which was why we introduced a education programme designed to prevent extremism and reinforce community links. By focussing on peace.
2,100 girls and boys will now start attending these fully func-tioning and easily accessibile schools.
Going home is an inalienable right everywhere and must be handled in the spirit of reconciliation and renovation of what has been left in ruins.
What makes school the best starting point? Education un-doubtedly provides the best tools to link the past, the present and the future, to make connections between generations and foster a sense of optimism and the chance to learn from those who went before us. It allows us to evaluate the situation and make our own personal choices. Based on an understanding of the mistakes which have been made.
And the chance to avoid repeating them.