Ashti. A mobile school in the refugee camp

6 September 2015, 10:42

The Ashti camp in Ankara – a Christian area of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan – is hosting more than 5000 Iraqi IDPs, mostly members of the Yezedi and Christian communities, who fled the Nineveh Plane e Mosul when Daesh was advancing in the summer of 2014.

Almost 1,500 of these people are children: the new generation of a divided country – at war for decades.

The most pressing need in the camp was to create a school, to avoid making the children walk kilometres in summer and winter to get to the nearest school. We have been working with this community for years  as part of our ‘Yalla Nila’ab’ (Let’s play!), financed by the Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation, which however had to stop when Daesh attacked the area.

The plan was to rebuild 4 schools for children from ethnic minorities in the Mosul area, currently under the control of the Caliphate. We hoped to to resume work in the occupied villages before too long, but it was not possible.

So we decided to reformulate the project to fit the new situation, and started working on a ‘mobile’ school for Ashti camp, made up of caravans that will be taken apart and moved when the communities can return to their homes after liberation. The school will be designed to accomodate 700 children between the ages of 6 and 12, and was officially opened on 30th September 2015 after a summer of hard work. Thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of many construction workers, surveyors and engineers who worked on this project, we were able to keep our promise: to open the school in time for the start of the new school year.

In 2015/2016 the school hosted training sessions, teacher training courses and after school clubs for the children. The school also has a covered area outside, complete with desks, chairs, blackboards and a computer lab thanks to the generosity of our donors. This is also the centre of Iraqi Kurdistan’s first street art initiative, thanks to the ‘No fear’ project, which encouraged the children to assist in the creation of murals to decorate the school.