Finding Community Amidst the Rubble

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, June 29, 2021
With support from USAID, Nadia became more confident, made new friends, and even found a meaningful career helping others in her community.

Nadia, 27, lived her whole life in Bashiqa, where she took pride in the cultural diversity of her town. “Our town is like a miniature of all Iraq,” said Nadia. In 2014, ISIS attacked towns and villages in northern Iraq, forcing families to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. “I woke up to a phone call from a friend of mine telling me to leave Bashiqa right away because ISIS forces were marching towards it,” Nadia said. “It was a difficult decision to make, as I had a sick brother, so we couldn’t leave together.” 

During the three years of displacement, Nadia didn’t give up. She continued her college education, and in 2017, Nadia and her family returned to Bashiqa. “Destruction was all I could see in Bashiqa,” Nadia said.  “We thought we no longer can live here. Our house was emptied of our belongings. It was turned into a hospital for the terrorists. Syringes and ISIS writings were all we found.”

The people of Bashiqa had to cope with their reality after returning, rebuilding their houses and repainting street walls, removing ISIS markings from their town and slowly finding employment. Nadia heard about the Shared Future project from a friend, a project funded by USAID that supports the youth in IS-affected areas to find employment and repair the broken trust among ethnic and religious groups. Nadia applied and joined the project team as a community mobilizer. 

Working with Shared Future started a new chapter in Nadia’s life. She referred to her team as “family” as she formed new friendships.  She is happy with the support and professional development she received from the project to help her develop her abilities to facilitate, lead the youth, control her emotions and gain technical skills. “Work atmosphere is more important than work itself,” Nadia said. “I received job offer but I gladly refused all of them, as nothing can beat what we have in Shared Future.”

Nadia especially appreciated the well-being part of the project.  “I learned to control my stress levels, and I became more confident after all the knowledge I gained from my team,” Nadia said.  “I was so happy to stand in front of different community leaders and speak confidently.” Nadia also expanded her horizon and the circle of her connections, after meeting people from different towns and backgrounds, gaining new communication skills and building relations that helped her perform better at her work.

After acquiring all these new skills, in 2021, Nadia applied for a new position in Shared Future as a Field Assistant, and after interviewing, was hired for a more challenging role with increased responsibilities. “I wanted to break my family’s concerns over me and prove to them that it’s safe to work outside Bashiqa, in Mosul.” Nadia said.

Nadia believes projects like Shared Future are so important to the youth-- they can help them expand their horizons, gain life-changing skills, clear up misunderstandings and make friendships across different religions and cultures. 

“I know I won’t stop,” Nadia said. “I’ve proved myself and I’m heard. I’ll continue working hard to support myself, my family and my community, thanks to Shared Future.” 



All names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Last updated: May 10, 2022

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