At the pick-up location, one of the worker’s son had went with him to see his father’s place of employment. He was maybe 8 or 9 years old. “Madam! Madam!” he yells. I went over to him and his father and met the boy eye level. The translator told me that he was offering me his hand in marriage. At first I chuckled, which was rude, but quickly recovered. I asked the translator to explain how I could not accept, and he just looked at me. I looked back at the boy and I could see he was very serious. After a few awkward seconds I reached into my pack and offered him a Pepsi and a candy bar. He threw the Pepsi but kept the sweets. He seemed very upset. I asked the translator how serious this situation was and he told me that marriage brings hope. I tried my very best to leave this boy with some hope…so I asked the translator to explain that I would be a horrible wife. The boy laughed and seemed to accept the rejection. I believed then, that reliance lies within a child’s ability to hope.
Let’s Talk Resilience
I often wondered, and still do, how regions of a conflict nation can remain resilient. I saw firsthand the effects of the north had on the southern region back in 2006. With fewer hours of electricity and potable water, I was aware of the strains that effected the rural regions of Iraq but more importantly I caught a glimpse of how it effects the future generations.
Resilience, in terms of crisis and development, is gaining much attention. The concept of resilience encompasses an array of ideologies and theories; some practical and some unreasonable but with good intentions. Depending on the context it may seem resilience lies at the core of survival or is the new shiny concepts for appropriating funds. Either way it exists, and may be the only stronghold for the Iraqi people.
To date, I have been introduced to many definitions of resilience, mostly linear, and limited to an idea (abstract) rather than an innate component of the human being (credence of resilience). Resilience is both an innate and acquired trait. The focus in this blog has a binary element to resilience and it is generational. Two generations are of importance; the adults and the adolescents. Infants and toddler resilience depends heavily on the resilience of the caretaker, usually a parent or older sibling. The mothers and fathers care-taking abilities are tested, and have been for decades, due to the void of respite. As mentioned before, strong conflict exists in the north of Iraq and Mosul has many vulnerabilities to overcome. In southern Iraq, the burden of war has a different shade of grey. In southern Governates, the disparity is less dense intermittently and often seems if there is no war at all (Al-Khatteeb) which could very well be the catalytic component of a positive shift for Iraq.
Because of the potential resilience boom in the south, government must move quickly and cease the opportunities. Southern Iraq is primed for the onset of major antecedents of development. This is a hunch based on endless readings and sifting through business journals. I happened upon this hunch when I noticed a shift in politics for the southern region, particularly Dhi (Thi) Qar. Capital power (Baghdad) shifted to local provincal authorities. (Sep 2015). This shift gave autonomy to the Governate and no sooner were the engines running. (pun intended). Nasiriya, whom I deemed the seed of resilience, will now have an oil company (Dhi Qar Oil Company (DQOC). These political/industrial shifts antecede development by creating jobs, refurbishing the market, and produce revenue to support more infrastructure rehabilitation.
This is where binary resilience is key. The mentioned shifts will make way for the younger generations to become embedded in the logistics of rehabilitating a nation. Not only will it provide a purpose for generations to come, it offers hope for the IDP generations of now who will be returning home. The college age Iraqi men and woman is where resilience will lie as well. When provincial and urban development begins it will be those generations who will be charged with strategic planning. The more headway made with these small shifts in the right direction will produce higher concentrations of resilient youth but they must be trained and educated.
The next antecedent is the technological endeavors of establishing communications. Global Access via the internet is by far one of the trademarks of business and development. The Kurdish Region in Iraq now has a .krd domain. (2016) A step in the right direction as well as a potential power struggle via informational propaganda. (We will have to keep our eye on that for the future). A contract was awarded to UltiSat, Inc. for an integrated and managed satellite communication network in Taji, Iraq so long as the electricity can support the project. Reestablishing a nation as a global market is a key endeavor in order to activate and enhance resilience.
3,344,334 peoples have been displaced since January 2014. Of these 3plus million, many are lacking education, and training, which is critical to the already high unemployment rate of 61 percent. With high unemployment and rising prices of food, water, and shelter, the reach of burden expands.
These indicators are often shadowed by international development goals such as Sustainable Development Goals, and Millennial Goals. Said goals are funded by the United Nations, international NGO’s and governments. The problem with said goals is that they are ideologically based and intentions are theory based. In the case of Iraq, there must be a multidimensional paradigm shift; credence.
Credence of Resiliency
Resilience is often associated with words like strength, endurance, overcoming, breakthrough, struggle, and etc. What I have not heard often is acceptance. With the exception of few, people are resilient. Biologically is resides in our nervous system. It is our fight or flight mechanism. In the case of the Iraqi people, as well as any population alike, there is an element of unending violence and fear. I would not go as far to say that the Iraq people have accepted this void of respite, however the consistent conditioning to a volatile environment has left them despair. The real development begins with rehabilitating the person as well as the nation. The silver lining is that the children who have not been conditioned for so long, could potentially be the generation of resilient thinkers and be the hope of Iraq.