One of the participants in the Mercy Corps Iraq-sponsored Creating Murals For Kalar Kindergarten project — in which art students paint murals on local school walls — is 22-year-old Arazu Hassan Salih. Arazu studies at Kalar's Kifri Fine Arts Institution, where she enjoys painting much more than any thing else. She loves it so much that she dreams of being a painter for her lifelong career.
Her fellow students, as well as her teachers, bear witness to this dream. Despite suffering from a partial disability — she walks with considerable difficulty and has a minor speech impediment — Arazu often adds to the workload of her studies by participating in local events and gallery shows. As a result of that desire to get her art out into the community more, she was excited to join the Mercy Corps project — and we were pleased to welcome her!
Arazu comes from an affluent Kurdish family — however, for political reasons, they left their own homeland and went to northern city of Erbil many years ago. In 2003, they returned back to their village of Salih Agha, which is situated between the cities of Kalar and Khanaqin. Unfortunately, much of Arazu's family suffers from the same kind of hereditary disease that she does; her elder brother uses a wheelchair most of time, but she doesn't require one.
She is an inspiration for her colleagues, teachers and the community. Local newspapers and television stations interviewed her for the courage she showed to the public in her contribution to the kindergarten project. Her participation in this mural activity project had an echo around the area. “I have been told by my sister who is studying architectural engineering in the University of Sallahaddin in Erbil that she saw me on TV," Arazu said. "It was a really good piece of news that keeps me happy every time when I remember it”.
“As a matter of fact, Youth Home — a local organization here in Kalar — has a special importance to me as I go there to learn from the talents and advice from some other skillful artists. The institution I am studying in is useful but more academic than practical," she continued. "This project was, therefore, a great opportunity for me to meet friends and fellow students during this summer holiday. I hope I can do this kind of work on all my holidays.”
Arazu’s courage and persistence in being a full part in this project, often in significant discomfort, is a testament to her strength of character. It has been a great inspiration to all of us connected with it.
We wish her all the very best for the future and give our thanks to her for her tremendous contribution.