Khalsa Aid helps Iraqi village open school doors again before Christmas

Four years ago, in August 2014, ISIS militants took over the last village before Kurdistan, displaced locals and demolished the school in its entirety. But today, the Al Nasir school has resumed an academic programme for 400 students. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Kanwar Singh from Khalsa Aid International, the UK-based charity that funded its restoration.

Mohammed Ali Ghazal, Village Head, said “The village was totally demolished. No-one from the governments in Bagdad or Mosul came to our plight”.

The villagers contacted Ravi Singh, Khalsa Aid International’s CEO, to see the destruction and told him of their hope to see their children be able to attend school again in December; within three months, Singh, who has helped numerous victims of war in the region since 2014, mobilised a relief effort as a commitment to strengthen the support for Iraqi youth and their education. He said: “The people of Iraq face many challenges but in my opinion the biggest challenge they face is lack of education for the children. I fear if the children of Iraq aren’t provided the educational support they will be easy targets for the many armed groups as recruits”.

After ISIS seized control of the region, schools like Al Nasir’s were typically shut down and used as headquarters by ISIS to train their soldiers. Ghazal also insists the move is the latest retort on oppression and radicalisation of youth, crediting the village children for not joining ISIS and saying it is important to continue educating them to ensure they don’t go on to join groups like ISIS in the future.

On the first day of opening, many students expressed renewed hopes and dreams; twelve year old Noor Hassan said: “I want to become an architect so I can return the village to how it was before, and better, so the village will always stand.”