A volunteer network in Mosul called “Volunteer With Us” (تطوع معنا) has launched two major educational projects for young people in the city.
These projects, called “100,000 School Bags” and “Tomorrow We Graduate”, hope to support and foster further education for Mosul’s young and orphaned children whose studies were stalled by ISIS militants’ hold over the city.
Iraqi forces liberated Mosul, which was once the group’s stronghold in Iraq and across its so-called caliphate, in July following operations to retake the city that lasted over nine months.
The organisers from “Volunteer With Us” have so far distributed 2000 school bags to displaced students, orphans and young people formerly subjugated under ISIS rule. The volunteers also see these projects as a key step to rebuilding Iraq and bringing education back to a city that was once a beacon of learning.
“We have launched this project because education is the key step to rebuilding Iraq,” said one of the young organisers. “Today, we also launched the campaign “Tomorrow We Graduate” from the University of Mosul because Mosul’s University is the edifice that graduated thousands of doctors, scientists, poets and writers.”
Despite a lack of services and widely damaged infrastructure, campaigns like the ones led by the “Volunteer With Us” network are part of a growing trend of civil society initiatives in Mosul that are emerging after ISIS. These initiatives not only attempt to rebuild society in Mosul, but also across Iraq by promoting signs of unity and societal cohesion.
In the city’s university, volunteers gathered to clean the halls and teaching rooms in preparation for the upcoming academic year. This followed a campaign led by the university’s students themselves earlier this year to remove rubble and debris from the halls, especially the university’s library, after ISIS destroyed and burned them down.
Initiatives like these are also drawing responses from other activists across Iraq. As far away as Baghdad, some 350km south of Mosul, activists even launched a campaign to restock Mosul’s libraries, citing this as a national duty to restore Iraq’s cultural heritage.