Governorate Council Elections in Iraq
Governorate or provincial elections of Iraq were held on April 20, 2013, to replace the local councils in the governorates of Iraq that were elected in the Iraqi governorate elections of 2009 .
In addition to 3 governorates forming the Kurdistan Region planning to conduct election separately, governorates of Al- Anbar, Ninewa and Kirkuk postponed the elections until June due to security reason, so that this elections were taken place in 12 of 18 governorates,
The campaign has been started sine more than 45 days, involving 8100 candidates, the participant in the elections from 265 political entities and 50 coalitions, and distributed leaflets at the intersection of streets and crowded places, and paste the logos and images coalitions and personalities, and included a lot of banners electoral phrases refer to the situation changed service and repair the political situation, while candidates appealed in a street speech through tours of neighborhoods.
The Board of Commission appointed teams to monitor the election campaign and its conformity with the controls, and to impose financial penalties on violators.
Most Iraqi’s people were exposed to exerting of pressure in their daily life through the election. Most of us suffer from crowded streets as many security checkpoints were placed all over Baghdad governorate, that’s mean when you need to transport about 10 km from place to place in Baghdad you may need more than one and half hour to reach your location. However, a series of deadly coordinate attacks across Iraq on Monday April15, 2013 killed at least 50 people and wounded nearly 300.
In that kind of situation though, voter participation in the election was 50 percent of eligible voters, and officials said including results from a special vote a week earlier for members of the armed forces, total participation would be more than 51 percent.
We saw the time changes in the political map of the local governments, most notably the rise of “coalition of law state” lead by Mr.Maliki in seven provinces.
＜Voting for security and military forces has been conducted on April 13, 2013＞
By Yasin / Hamoody (Engineer)
May 9, 2013 in Iraq | Permalink
World Health Day
As an invitation of the MOE, we attended the celebration of the General Directorate of Physical Education/ Directorate of Environmental Education and school health for Annual festival on the level of Iraq on the occasion of World Health Day in Al- Najaf governorate from 8-11/4/2013. The theme for World Health Day 2013 is controlling high blood pressure, a condition which affects more than one in three adults worldwide and it is widespread in Iraq for different age groups. According to the announcement of World Health Organization that 50% of deaths caused by high blood pressure and there are four million infected with the disease in Iraq. The organization called Iraqis to improve their diet to prevent and control of high blood pressure, as a means of reducing the number of people affected.
[This photo about healthy food and its influence on human's body]
The General Directorates for Education presented their activities throughout the festival as well as sketches and an exhibition of drawings by students about hygiene and health and preservation of the environment.
[This photo about a play by the students of Baghdad/Risafa 3 DOE … named “The enemy friend”( which means the food salt)]
[This photo about a play by Ninewa DOE named (Charged in our house) “ trial for blood pressure”]
Dr. Fawzi Rajab Tawfeek praised a role of JEN for raising awareness among pupils about the importance of hygiene and attention to health in his speech at the opening of the festival.
[I, Asmaa and Khaild from JEN with some responsible employees from DOEs of Diala, Kirkuk and Babil of environmental education and health school]
Bassim Yousef Jacob
April 25, 2013 in Iraq | Permalink
We continue our activities hoping for peace though security situation is not stable.
We still implement rehabilitation work at the Al-Badia school in Baghdad, where we introduced on 28 February here.
The main issue that affects the work at school is the security situation. That’s led to some days we cannot reach the school even the contractor and the materials could not supplied at site in due time because the school was surrounded by a concrete block to prevent from the bomb explosion.
Iraq's deadliest day in last six months came on the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein taken place on March 19, 2013. Up to 60 people have been killed in a series of car and suicide bombings mainly in several areas in and around Iraq's capital, Baghdad.
The country remains volatile, and disputes with the autonomous Kurdistan Region over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk have threatened to derail progress towards political stability.
To implement our work, JEN engineer as well as the contractor received huge help from the headmistress assistant and she appreciated the work and did following up the work to improve the quality.
<Discussing among Headmistress assistant, JEN engineer and the contractor>
JEN also conducts hygiene trainings at school for students after providing training for teachers. Children learn the methods of protecting themselves from infectious disease. They also appreciate the hygiene materials and kits provided by JEN.
<Students at school yard>
This project is being executed thanks to the support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, all our members and contributors.
JEN Engineer Hamoody
April 11, 2013 in Iraq | Permalink
March 28, 2013 in Iraq | Permalink
Hygiene promotion has started!
As you know, the security situation become unstable in Iraq now and there are many continuous demonstrations and protests in 5 governorates where we carried out the projects for more than two months. Due to that, the roads are frequently blocked, especially in Anbar and Diala governorates, but we managed to conduct hygiene promotion in four schools of Diala and Anbar, paying the attention to the security situation.
In the first day, JEN hygiene expert trained the teachers, and trained teachers had a teaching session to students in the second day. In the session, in order to urge students to maintain personal hygiene and cleanliness of their school as well as to take care of the environment and their health, hygiene kits such as soaps and toothbrush etc., guidance booklets and posters, which were prepared by JEN in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, were distributed to students.
[Students seriously listening to the Hygiene session]
Attended training officials from the MOE and DOE of Diala, they expressed their admiration and satisfaction for our works which especially contribute to the improvement of the educational environment, to raising awareness of health and environment.
JEN hygiene expert conducting the teacher training in the presence of officials from the MOE and DOE
This project is being executed thanks to the support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, all our members and contributors.
Program officer Basim Yousif
March 14, 2013 in Iraq | Permalink
The second school has also been started the rehabilitation!
February 28, 2013 in Iraq | Permalink
Rehabilitation works in Iraq has been kicked off.
JEN continue to implement rehabilitation construction for damaged classrooms and water and hygiene facilities and hygiene promotion at 10 primary and secondary schools in Northern and Central Iraq this term.
In this week, the rehabilitation construction has been started at Al-Shurook secondary school in Kirkuk province in the Northern Iraq as the first school out of 10 selected schools for this term project.
At first, we break the existing but not functioning water fountain.
Cements for the construction have been arrived.
We reuse materials which are still useful and clear off the old and damaged things to make latrine and water fountain cleaner and more comfortable for students to use.
After this first step, we will construct the foundation of water fountains, connect the water pipes, and tiling to complete the works.
February 21, 2013 in Iraq | Permalink
January 31, 2013 in Iraq | Permalink
A new Iraq project supported by MOFA has been started.
January 17, 2013 in Iraq | Permalink
November 15, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Growing the circle of hygiene habits!
As last report, the hygiene education sessions are ongoing. JEN request schools to hang the posters to promote hygiene habits to students. JEN also distribute hygiene kits which includes teeth brush, tooth paste, towel, as well as materials JEN developed with Ministry of Education.
With those tools, students practice brushing teeth at the washing stand restored in this project. Students can practice brushing teeth and washing hands with the clean washing stand which now they do not need to struggle to get water from the tab.
Can you brush behind of your teeth well? After students learned the importance of hygiene habits, they will talk about it to their family at home. This is our aim of the project to spread good habits of hygiene to family through school and students and promote them to prepare teeth brush for their kids at home. This is one of our efforts to make the project sustainable that the good hygiene habits will remain after JEN complete the project.
November 1, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Schools growth with community
The new school year has been started on October in Iraq, and the second half of the hygiene education session have been kicked off. It is the continuance of the primary session held in April at the schools we implemented rehabilitation. JEN has developed the method and materials of hygiene education how to make them exciting for children together with Ministry of Education, Department of Education, and teachers with developed materials such as teeth-brushing calendar or trash box, which we have introduced in the previous article.
At the schools, JEN also organize PTA associated by parents of students and teachers to spread the hygiene knowledge and habits to families and communities through schools. The member of PTA regularly come to school to monitor if the latrines and water fonts JEN restored are maintained clean. Through this activity, JEN believe that the environment of children’s growth will be looked after by entire community along with schools and teachers.
Teachers of the schools who observed restoration of school facilities and improvement of student habits after hygiene education sessions, and they said that they wish all other schools which are still in the condition they had before will be improved as they could through JEN project. JEN will continue the step-by-step endeavor to improve study environment of school children at all areas of Iraq.
October 25, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
For Children to have Affinity for Hygiene Education ~Through a Song Contest~
"If children were able to learn about hygiene in an easier and more fun way, wouldn’t they learn better and knowledge?”
This revolutionary idea came up from a JEN staff during a meeting about hygiene education workshop with officials of Ministry of Education.
"If the kids could sing about right hygiene habits, they could learn important knowledge in a fun way, and familiarize with these habits." From this idea, Ministry of Education organized contests to compose songs about hygiene habits in five districts that JEN works in.
Since 2003, JEN has been working on hygiene education with Ministry of Education. Local authorities have become more creative by bringing up its own ideas, instead of just waiting for proposals from JEN, which finally created this groundbreaking event. The song contest featured five Directorate of Education from Baghdad, al-'Anbār, Bābil, Diyala and Kirkuk. They competed with the songs they made to promote hygiene practices .
The song made by Diyara District, which had the most easy-to-remember lyrics and melody, won the contest. It The song was even introduced to Directorate of Education and is now used all over Iraq so that every child can become more familiar with hygienic practices.
October 4, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Introduction of a New Staff
Nice to meet you, I am Sasaki, and I have been appointed as an assistant manager of the general administration and accounting section in Amman.
It has been a week since I came to Jordan, but I am still not used to waking up with the azan every morning at 4:30 AM.
I want to get used to living here as soon as possible so I can contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq to the best of my ability.
In addition, I want to communicate many things about Iraq, Jordan, and other Middle Eastern countries through this blog to the readers in Japan.
September 20, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
“Pray for Japan”, the movie about the Great East Japan Earthquake, was shown in Jordan
September 6, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Ramadan has been ended!
At the end of Ramadan and in honor of Eid al-Fitr (Lesser Bairam). Most Iraqi families prepare sweets, and Klaicha (which is preferable) for consumption during Eid. Klaicha is kind of sweetened pastry that can be filled with dates or nuts.
The three days Eid activities begin for the Iraqi family at dawn of the first, through the Eid prayer at sunrise, Iraqi families have become accustomed to begin the first day by conducting an early visit to the cemetery, to put flowers on the graves of family members (This event is limited to adults only).
Another important ritual of the Iraqi families, is the gathering of married siblings and their families at the father’s or eldest brother’s house in the first day, to exchange greetings and have lunch together.
The remaining days of the Eid are spent either by family visits with neighbors, relatives and friends. Some of Eid's time spend with kids, visiting games-area and parks available in the city, in Baghdad there’s Al-Zawraa park which includes a large green area, zoo and games for children, the children have fun and enjoy the holiday without feeling deprived.
August 30, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Ramadan holy month of Muslim has been begun
July 26, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Teaching materials are ready!
We received the new teaching means whose design was developed by JEN with collaboration of the Ministry of Education, we intend to distribute them to students during this project, to promote hygiene awareness between students and encourage them to develop hygienic habits:
The first is for primary school students has a calendar to remind them to brush their teeth every day, which can be checked by the teacher to encourage them to keep on brushing their teeth,
The second is a box to collect rubbish that the student generate during a lesson duration (pencil shavings, discarded tissue etc…) and encourages them to empty it in the waste basket when the lesson is finished, this is to discourage students from throwing these things on the floor and help them develop the habit of keeping the surroundings clean .
JEN is continuing in her commitment and efforts to encourage hygienic habits among students due to our belief that they are the seeds that can be spread and influence the whole community to lead a better, healthier life.
July 12, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Faiz chronicle of Japan (Iraq Head of Office)
I was very glad to meet my colleagues from other countries and to exchange thoughts and ideas among staff. We had a three day training program for the development of supervisors, and it was a lovely environment as all of us talked straightforwardly and professionally about our past and current experiences. The meeting place was vary comfortable and my colleagues had a good sense of humor to ease the tension in the room when the atmosphere was very serious. I found that time management is taken very seriously in the Japanese way of living, and this was especially true in the workshop.
It was a good experience for me to talk about my culture to my Japanese colleagues, who were very interested to understand other cultures. I was really happy when they prepared Muslim food for me. The rice was delicious and I was able to improve my ability to eat with chopsticks during my stay.
I really admired Tokyo because it was the cleanest city I have ever been to. Also, the people there are very polite. I found people smiling in every shop I visited and they were trying to help me when they discovered that I cannot speak Japanese. The metro and train systems were perfect and I was able to plan my schedule precisely to the nearest two minutes.
June 28, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
In the last stage of school rehabilitation program
In the current project, which started in November 2011, JEN implements school rehabilitation programs for primary and secondary schools in Central and Northern Iraq through repair of latrines and wash spaces as well as classroom windows and electrical equipment in order to improve the study environment of students.
Through this rehabilitation program, students can stay in the safe classrooms without risk of injury and there woruld be no need to go back home during school hours to go to the toilet. This allows students to concentrate on their study in a more healthy and comfortable environment.
Right now, this project has been completed in 11 out of 19 schools.
Birada Primary School:- Water fountains: Before:
Birada Primary School:- Water fountains: At the finishing stages:
Maisalon Secondary School:- Water fountains: Before:-
Maisalon Secondary School: At the finishing stages:
June 14, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
The Jordan sand art bottle was listed in the Guinness book of world records!
"Jordan entered the Guinness book of world records for the largest sand-filled bottle, commemorating the 200th anniversary of rediscovering Petra, which is situated 260 km south of Amman.", Jordan tourism board stated.
The bottle was 3m high, weighted 60kg and was filled with 270kg of colored sand by 1000 participants.
The board displayed the bottle during its participation in ITB Berlin 2012. Petra, the Pink City, is a historical city carved of pink stone situated to the south of Jordan and was built by the Nabataeans in the 4th century B.C. as their capital.
On July 7th, 2007, Petra was chosen to be one of the seven world’s wonders.
PS. Photo credits:
Bottle: Amoon news
Petra: Public domain
May 31, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
International Cultural Festival in BabilPrefecture was took place!
On May ４, ２０１２, although there were security concern in Iraq, the International Culture Festival was held in Babil Prefecture. Lots of artists from around the world got together.
BabilInternational Culture Festival has been held over nine days on the theme of "global fusion of cultures and civilizations". Seminars to read poet and recital, music, theater, art exhibitions have been performed. On the final day, May １２, classical music by Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, Iraq music and Arab music have been performed.
This festival was scheduled to be held last year in fact. However, it was canceled by Iraqi government because that might lead us to raise the anger of Muslim political party in the Babilprefecture. In this year, we could finally achieve it.
May 17, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Hygiene promotion workshop has started
Hygiene promotion workshop has been started since middle of this month. Elementary and secondary school teachers are the ones who attend this workshop at first. JEN makes a lecture about the importance of gargling, washing hands, and other daily practices which can prevent people from infection. JEN also teaches them proper ways to store foods and cook foods in order to avoid food poisoning, because the temperature in Iraq goes up as high as around 50°C in summer.
After teachers had participated this workshop, next they have to give a lesson in hygiene to their students. JEN is also observing this hygiene lesson given by the teachers and check that children could receive correct information about hygiene and contents of the teaching material were properly understood by them.
[Some of the scenes in Muisalon Secondary School]
April 26, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Materials for hygiene promotion workshop
JEN is now working in 5 prefectures in Iraq on 2 major projects. One is school renovation project for elementary and secondary school and the other is hygiene promotion project.
In the hygiene promotion project, JEN helps people to understand what kind of action should they take in their daily life to prevent infection by emphasizing practices such as washing hands or brushing teeth. The materials used in hygiene promotion are designed by JEN with advice from the Ministry of Education in Iraq.
We have had very careful review of the contents, as well as repeated discussion with the Ministry of Education. At end of this March, we finally got an approval of the ministry to use this for the purpose of hygiene education. Because it is not allowed in Iraq to print educational material without their approval, this meant that we could now send copy to printing at last.
The new hygiene education workshops using this materials will be implemented from the middle of April at many schools.
April 12, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Arab Summit will be held in Baghdad
Arab Summit will be held in Baghdad at the end of March. 22 member countries and regions of the Arab League participate in this conference. In this year's summit, they are going to talk about the unstable conditions in Syria and the democratization movement “Arab Spring”.
There were massive terror attacks across Iraq recently on 20th of this month. In response to this, security check has been extremely strict. In Baghdad, many roads were closed and mobility of people severely restricted. People are saying that all phone lines and also mobile phones might be stopped during the conference period.
We wish every place calmness and peace until the conference ends.
March 29, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Cold Wave for the First Time in 20 Years
Many think of the Middle East as a land of scorching sun, where summer is the only season in ayear. In fact, winter comes to the Middle East too. This winter was particularly cold. In earlier this month, the cold wave hit the Middle East and snow covered all the region including Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
There was also more than 10cm of snow in here Amman, where JEN office is situated. Because it is very rare here to have so much snow, we saw many children, and even adults, excited to play snow fight or to make a snowman.
They say spring is short, but summer will come very soon.
March 15, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Renovation of School Latrines and Water Supply Equipment in Progress
JEN is now working on renovation of latrirines and water supply equipments so that children in Iraq can have their school life in better hygienic condition. This is part of our school renovation and hygiene promotion project that had started in last November.
JEN completed renovation of five schools until today.
A washroom,before renovation
②Al Khulafaa school
A washroom, before renovation
In Iraq,there still are many terrorist attacks and every day news is reported that innocent citizens were killed. JEN will continue the projects with utmost attention to the local security situation.
March 1, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
The soccer qualifying round for Olympic was held in Amman (Japan vs. Syria)
February 5, the London Olympics qualifying match was held in Amman, capital of Jordan. It was the match between Japan national football team U-23 and the representative of Syria.
The game, lots of Japanese who are living in Jordan was rushed to the support. The team Japan, unfortunately, lost 2-1 to Syria because of the second point by Syria just before the end of the game. The sprit of the team Syria by the players was very impressive.
The stadium was mobilized by a lot of security guards concerning about the unstable situation in Syria. However, the game ended safely without any confusion.
This victory of Syria would be good news for Syria in which dark topics have continued for a long time.
JEN office in Jordan has been working to repair schools in Iraq and to promote sanitary business. We are also currently collecting information about the situation in Syria.
February 16, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Testimonial from Department of Education
At the beginning of last month, JEN staffs took part in the conference
held by Iraq Department of Education.
The department is promoting ‘improvement of educational environment’
and ‘health maintenance of children’.
Deputy Minister of Department of Education also participated in the conference
and we discussed educational issues in Iraq.
At the awards ceremony for the organization which is aiming at
improving the school education, JEN is commended
by Department of Education for the school repairing project and the
health promoting project, which have been held since 2003.
It is our pleasure that the projects in Iraq are evaluated.
We’ll continuously do our best for supporting Iraq.
February 2, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
It’s time to departure!
Mr. Bassim Yaqoub,who is one of the staff working at the office as a program officer
in Bagdad, is going to participate in the meeting held in Tokyo from next week.
He plans to go to Japan via Jordan. At the beginning of this week,
he had arrived here, Amman.
This is first time for him to visit Japan and take such a long journey
So he checked carefully how to spend his time at the airport and the
way of transfer.
And he visit the countries out of Middle East for the first time,
so we are looking forward to hearing his impression of Japan.
We work in Amman and we can rarely meet the staffs in Bagdad
because Bagdad is far from here. So we took commemorative pictures!
January 19, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Has Iraq war finished?
The news said that U.S. forces except Security Assistance Force in Iraqhad withdrew on 18th December 2011.President Obama declared end of Iraq war which had continued for nine years.
However, has war in Iraq really finished?
I asked to a Iraqi staff ‘How do you think about Obama’s announcement?’
He said ‘Mr. Obama is a president of America, isn’t he?
The declaration is not for people in Iraq but for people in citizens.
These days, new wars occur in Iraq. The confrontations among
religions and politics still exist. We have no idea when we can settle them.’
It is said that the public security and order in Iraq have been getting better.
But there are news of terrorism on the TV every day
and Iraq citizens are still fighting against the fear.
JEN keep supporting Iraq until people in Iraq can live safely with true peace.
January 5, 2012 in Iraq | Permalink
Staff Profile of JEN Baghdad Office
Today, we would like to introduce JEN Baghdad office.
There were 6 staff working at JEN Baghdad office.
JEN was continuing the projects in Iraq corporated by Iraqi staff, although it is difficult for Japanese staff to stay there due to unsafe domestic situation in Iraq.
Hygiene project assistant : Asma (left)
Programme officer : Basim (right)
Engineer: Mohamed (left)
Chief engineer : Yashin(left)
December 15, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Soccer is hot in the Middle East
In the Middle East, football is very popular and one of the national sport. You can see the popularity from matches that the Japanese national soccer team has been playing against the countries in the Olympic preliminaries or World Cup.
In the third qualifying round for the Asia Cup of World Cup, both Jordan and Iraq have fought in the A group (Japan was in C group).
On the11st of this month which was the day of Jordan versus Singapore, when walked out on the streets of Amman, everyone was staring the game everywhere. In the restaurant, we couldn’t even place an order because everyone concentrated on the game… Jordan won 2-0 with Singapore.
In that night, people was jubilant with raising the flag in the city.
Jordan against Iraq was conducted on 15th and Iraq won, however, it was announced that both teams proceed to the final qualifying round for the World Cup.
In the final qualifying round, there is a possibility that both Jordan and Iraq may play against Japan depending on the combination. We can't keep our eyes off from the soccer in the Middle East.
(Photo: Young people who support with face paint of the flag Jordan)
===== Notice ========
Foreign Minister's Commendation was awarded in the FY 2011.
We greatly appreciate all of your support on JEN’s activities.
For more information, click here
December 1, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
New project has started
The school repair and hygiene promotion project targeting 19 schools in five prefectures in Iraq began in last December and completed at the end of October. Now, a new project has been launched in November.
JEN will continuously work on the projects to repair water facilities and toilets and the hygiene promotion projects at schools in Iraq.
The new project to repair school and to promote better hygiene will cover 7 prefectures. New prefectures are Sahara Din and Washitto (colored in purple) in addition to the five prefectures (colored in green) in which the project has been launched already, Baghdad, Diarra, Anbar, Kirkuk and Babiru.
The director of Baghdad office and the overseas division director who is visiting Jordan are talking about how to proceed the new project.
November 17, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Iraqi TV Station Reported Severe Reality of School
We got an “urgent” mail from a staff member of Bagdad office last week.
He said that AL-Sharqia TV, an Iraqi TV station, broadcast severe reality of schools in Kirkuk.
What I saw in the video was that a school was surrounded by garbage as if it were a garbage site and that students were studying in a classroom without windows due to lack of budget for purchasing glasses.
Some children cried and said, “I want the school clean.”
JEN is trying to renovate school in five districts. However, we recognized that there are many more schools in need of support.
November 2, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Voices from a Junior High School in Bagdad
JEN conducted interviews at a junior high school, which JEN supported renovation. We got voices from the school:
Principal Moqdad Hamdy
“I’m really glad that the renovation has finished before the new school year. Under the circumstance of clean classrooms and washrooms, students will be able to concentrate on their study. We learned the importance of cleaning at the hygiene workshop and we will try to keep the school clean.”
Mohamad Fadhel, 14, 2nd grade
“I want to be a doctor. After the school became clean, I like school more than before. Now that we can use tap water, we don’t have difficulty with drinking water at school anymore.”
<Renovated water supply>
<Washrooms for students>
October 20, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Changes in society, a view from the new law
A coordination meeting was held at Amman in early October. NGOs and international organizations which have conducted support activities in Iraq. JEN also joined the meeting.
Topic of the conference is about the laws relating to NGO which has been recently revised. In Iraq, the follow-up is required every time because the NGO law has been changed every few years.
A person from the Iraqi government who is in charge of NGO also explained the new law this time. The meeting is in English, however, sometimes in Arabic when the debate gets heated.
What the person from Iraqi government emphasized was that “civil society” like NGO is new for Iraq, hence we must proceed little by little.
Recovering security in Iraq, in the meeting, we could feel the attitude which aims at building relationship properly between the Iraqi government and NGO.
October 6, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Report from Jordan
When it comes to the Middle East, you might think that it is far away from Japan. But in reality, people in Jordan, where JEN office is located, are very friendly. I can feel that they have warm feelings for Japan in my daily life.
For example, at a restaurant or a supermarket, once they know I am Japanese, they talk to me concerning how is Japan doing after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake in Tohoku, which was largely reported here in Jordan. They also encourage me saying that Japan will surely recover.
The other day, a charity concert was held for supporting Tohoku recovery at Amman, the capital of Jordan. Many people came to the site.
Many people in Jordan in the Middle East, wish Japan’s recovery even though it is far from Japan.
September 22, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
10 years from September 11 attacks: Viewpoints from Iraq
I wondered what Iraqi people thought when the September 11 attacks occurred in 2001 and how they feel now. I asked the Head of Office in Bagdad about it. The following is what he said all about the attacks.
I was shocked at the screen images in news programs on September 11, 2001, because the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center complex was being attacked. It was one of the most important buildings in the United States, the biggest power in the world,
Iraqi people had never imagined that the terrorist attack would later cause the Iraqi war in our country. We thought the attack had nothing to do with us, because it was the matter between the United States and terrorists.
We didn’t understand the insistence from the United States. The Iraqi government disliked terrorist organizations.
The Iraqi war started in 2003 and the US army and terrorists fought here in Iraq. Many Iraqi citizens saw their country being devastated. Especially Bagdad was ruined.
We insist that the collapsed two buildings may be reconstructed in a year but it would take several years for demolished Iraq, one country to recover.
Now, many conflicts between religions or ethnic groups are occurring in Iraq. If the situation brought by the devastation and poverty lasts long, the country would be apart.
September 8, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
"The world's oldest toilet" The birthplace of the flush toilet was Iraq! ?
JEN is currently working on a project to repair schools and a hygiene promotion project for 21 schools in five prefectures in Iraq. We received photos from Baghdad every week, photos about running water and repaired clean toilets which were dirty or broken before.
As you can see from the photo, toilet being used at an elementary school in Iraq is very similar to the Japanese style toilet. However, the squat direction is reverse to the Japanese one.
Since we’re working on repairing toilets, we found an interesting story about toilet circumstances in Iraq. It is said that there is the world's oldest toilet in Iraq.
The world's oldest toilet was discovered in the ruins of Tell Asmar Eshuan'na (60km northeast of Baghdad, Diarra prefecture) which flourished as the city of Akkad dynasty around 2200 BC.
This toilet about 4000 years ago, toilet seats were piled up as U-shaped with brick. It is said that they have already been able to sit. It is further assumed that pipe work and sewer pipes were sanitary and equipped as modern system. Sewage was surprisingly flush lavatory which flowing into a tributary of the river Tigris. This flush lavatory was said to be used not only in the palace but also in the general home.
From the above, it seems that Iraq is considered the birthplace of flush lavatory.
JEN wants to equip sanitary toilets which will not lose much to the toilet of 4000 years ago.
August 25, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Microcosm of Iraq : Kirkuk
We would like to introduce Kirkuk, which is one of the places JEN is working.
Kirkuk is located at 230 km to the north of Baghdad, three hours by car. The population is about 600,000. Various ethnic groups, Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen, Assyrian, etc. (Christians) are living. Also, it has been known as the location of the largest oil fields in Iraq. The political struggle is not extinct due to the entanglement of ethnic complexity and oil interests.
Also here in Kirkuk, JEN has conducted projects to repair schools and sanitary workshops for infectious disease prophylaxis which will provide hygienic toilets and water to the children.
Mr. Kokayan Nadun, who is a principal of Ibn Gevaert elementary school which JEN finished the repair, told that “We are very excited that the toilets and water at school have been repaired and now clean. Kirkuk is composed of various ethnic Kurdish, Arab, and Turkmen. And if the support focused on one nation, there is a risk of conflict. Therefore, I appreciate that JEN has supported us regardless of ethnicity. And I’m dearly waiting for the day when our children can study side by side in one classroom”.
In Kirkuk, each ethnic group, Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen, has done the education in their own language (Arabic, Kurdish, Turkmen). That is why children are currently studying divided into ethnic groups.
Kirkuk is referred to as "a microcosm of Iraq" because of the complex ethnic composition and religious circumstances. We just hope that children can study together, regardless of the ethnic groups, in the near future.
Children of Kirkuk: practicing of tooth brushing at school
August 11, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
A Midsummer in Baghdad
In the heat of the strong sunlight here in Amman, days with over 30 degree have continued. We received a letter which told us the hotness summer in Iraq from the Office director in Baghdad who had repeatedly said "Amman is cool and easy to spend" during the stay in Amman.
On the way back to Baghdad from Amman, I sat in the car for 10 hours and was looking at the desert which spread out of the window. Except there was a check point of the army sometimes, highway was very open. However, traffic congestion was bad once entered the city of Baghdad. It took two hours to reach the destination.
When arrived at Baghdad, relieve didn’t last long. Intense heat has been hit immediately. Summer in Baghdad is very hot. The temperatures can be close to 50 degrees. In this heat environment, air conditioning is essential. However, we cannot rely on public electricity because the power outage immediately.
For this reasons, most home put a generator at home. However, with only the generator at home, air conditioners do not work. At night, you have to sleep only with window from fan in a sweat.
How Iraq people spend this hottest season? They go to air-conditioned rest area, restaurant and markets to outpace the heat somehow.
At evening, people gather at rest area, a large fan working.
July 28, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Self-introduction of a new office member
I arrived in Amman, Jordan on July 10. I have joined the Iraq team as an assistant of accounting and general affairs.
Six years have passed since I visited Jordan when I was a student. The large shopping malls and many cars in the city make me surprised at the progress.
I have been still struggling to read Arabic numbers (numbers India), but I will get used to the job here as soon as possible and I really want to work for the business to support Iraq. Thank you.
(Mochida, Assistant of Department of Accounting and General Affairs)
July 14, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Anbar Province, a treasure house of history
This time, I would like to introduce Anbar, one of the states where our project sites are located.
Anbar, located in western Iraq, is the largest state in the country, covering 32% of the national territory. It shares borders with Jordan, and has cities such as Ramadi, Anah and Fallujah.
The word “anbar” originally meant “warehouse” in Arabic. Around the third century, Christian Arabs who lived in southern Iraq, sometimes called Mutherids, used this area for storing military items and food. Such history gave the state its current name.
For the Sassanid Empire (3rd-7th centuries), Anbar was an important location to prevent attacks from the Roman Empire. The capital of Abbas Caliphate (8th-13th centuries) was actually located in Anbar, until Al-Mansur, the 2nd Caliph, moved it to Baghdad in the mid-8th century. Anbar lies between the Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates River, which flows into the Persian Sea.
Countless people went through the state, and in the course of such history, many temples and palaces were built. You can see remnants of the ancient times from the historic ruins.
June 30, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Message from Iraq to Japan
Few days ago, we visited some schools in Iraq to distribute the sanitation kits.
Teachers and students welcome us with banners saying ‘We love Japan, and We share your sorrow’ ‘We support you, as you always support us’ ‘Help our Japanese friend’.
Here are some voices from schools in Iraq.
・ Amany Akram (fourth grade)
I like people in Japan. They support our school. I’m really sad to hear the news of earthquake in Japan.
・Salwa Ma’an (fourth grade)
Japanese are very good people. I like them very much.
・ Bashar Abdul-Rahman (sixth grade)
I saw the news and wanted to do something for Japan. So I made a donation with my friends. I know that our contribution is not enough, however our mind exist with people in Japan.
・Ms. Suha Khalid (teacher)
When the natural disasters happened in other countries, I could see them calmly.
But this time, I am so shocked when I heard the news of Japan. Japan is a peaceful country and has been doing technical support and humanitarian aid to many other countries. The action of JEN is one of those things, I think.
We were so encouraged on our way back from schools and we thought that we need to keep doing our best for supporting people in Iraq.
In the near future, we hope that the news of revival of Japan will reach Iraqi who were cheering us, people in Japan, with banners today.
June 16, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
A traditinal market in Baghdad
Al Shorjeh Market is well known as the oldest market in Baghdad. Its history can be traced back to the late Abbas Caliphate in the 13th century.
This market was originally called Rayiaheen (meaning “perfumer”) Market. The name changed to Attareen (“spice merchant”) Market, then to Al Shorjeh Market, as it is called today. The origin of the current name has various theories. Some say that it comes from the Arab word for “saltwater well” or “sesame oil”, while others say it comes from the Turkish words for “small river of saltwater”.
Anyway, the market is an important place for the people of Baghdad. They come here to buy all kinds of candles and spices for big events, such as Ramadan (the fasting month) or Eid, which is a grand festival celebrating the end of Ramadan.
There are more than nineteen alleys inside Al Shorjeh Market. Many shops are lined in the alleys, selling goods such as soap or stationaries―you can buy about anything. There are also thirteen accommodations and four mosques, as well as two traditional coffee houses, one of where singers of classical Arabian music (maqam) gather.
Sadly, a part of Al Shorjeh Market’s buildings have been destroyed by bombing and old age. Such buildings are gradually being rebuilt into new ones, which are changing the atmosphere of the traditional market.
June 2, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
City of culture Baghdad Al-Mutanaby street
The oldest and the most famous street in Bagdag, whose whole town constitutes one culture beyond the era, is Al-Mutanaby street.
This street dates back to the Al-Saray market, which was the paper manufacturing market in Isramic dynastic period (750-1285, 1261-1519AD)originated with the Abbasid family.
You can enjoy various cultures once you step in this street.
They sell only books there and on every Friday, book lovers come here from Bagdad city and neighboring cities.
This street is 700 meters long and located between western Tigris River, which is in the central Bagdad, and Al-Rashid street.
People friendly call this street in many nicknames changing with the times.
In Isramic dynastic era it was called Darob Zahhi, in Ottoman empire era it was named Al-Khamniya, and under the occupation of British Empire in the 1920s the name was changed to Al-Saray street.
It also came to be called vaguely ’Palace street’ because there was the British military headquarter near here.
In 1936, when the Faisal I, the emperor of Iraq, requested to establish a committee which discuss the name of this street and open space, they named it Al-Mutanaby after the Arabic famous poet.
After Iraq war finished in 2003, various fields of books including the religion, the social, the political problem and also the political criticism, which was treated secretly before the end of Iraq war, began to be sold openly and freely in the Al-Matanaby street.
May 19, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Breakfast in Baghdad : Pacha
In the morning, "Pacha" is one of the popular breakfast which people in Baghdad eat especially in the cold morning!
Pacha is a food which well cook the cow’s head meat with bones and the internal organs. We eat the Pacha over on top of the bread which is dipped in soup called tissue leave. According to your taste, it is also delicious to top with pickles, lemon juice and onion!
Some people say that they prefer to use sheep’s head or tongue instead of beef. It easier to eat than beef with a bone, but it might be easy to digest reason.
We call "Pachechi" who sell the Pacha. Pachechi buy Pacha’s ingredients, beef and mutton, from butcher. Then, they begin the work called “Samotto” which is cleaning up the meat seared with fire for a prolonged time. Once the meat is clean, just cook Pacha and sell them!
"Pacha" is thought as food which is rich in vitamins and minerals needed by our body. Therefore, it has become one of the most popular breakfast for people who require physical strength to work in particular.
April 14, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Introduction of new staff of JEN
How do you do?
My name is Mays and I am a new member of JEN Iraq team.
I was born in Bagdad in 1982 with my father was a diplomat and my mother was a lawyer.
I lived close to different cultures because we moved from place to place due to my father’s job.
After I graduated from the pharmaceutical department of Bagdad University, I got a job of medicines exportation and had relation to not only hospitals but also Ministry of Health in Iraq.
After that, I thought I would like to do what helps people further and I made my new start as a member of JEN today.
I’m going to cultivate a better understanding of JEN from now on since it’s the first day for me, but what I can say at this moment is that it is able to carry out my work at JEN delightfully with my friendly colleagues.
Thank you very much for your kind attention for my introduction.
March 31, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Ａ Ｗedding Ceremony(２）
Here in Amman, the wedding season is from early summer to early autumn. If you hear cars honking loudly in the street, that’s likely to be a sign that a wedding is taking place. During the wedding season, we could hear this sign of celebration almost every day.
At a hotel, we came across couples giving a mass wedding. The ceremony is full of life – the bride and groom enter the hall while a band plays music, and the guests dance and parade around them. The music and dancing go on till late in the night.
(Please also check our entry in October 2004 describing wedding customs in Baghdad:).
March 17, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Ａ Ｗedding Ceremony(1）
Pages are bound between covers made of carved wood. Written on one side is a line from the Quran, and on the other side are words of invitation.
This is an invitation card for a wedding ceremony. Pretty, isn’t it?
Below is the meaning of the words of the Quran quoted in this invitation.
255. Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.
March 3, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Let’s continue where we left off last time.
The reason is that the adhan is centralized in Amman city. Two large mosques take turns reading the adhan (though it is not certain whether they switch every week or every month), which the other mosques receive and deliver in their neighborhoods. On the other hand, outside of Amman city, each mosque reads the adhan on its own.
I heard there aren’t many places that use the centralized system like in Amman. In Iraq and Saudi Arabia (the location of Mecca), the mosques recite the adhan by themselves.
By the way, I heard that in winter, there are times when you can hear coughs and sneezes during the adhan. Only a live program would allow that!
Next time will be the last entry about the adhan.
February 3, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
I’ve begun explaining about the adhan in January, and this time is the final entry.
I’ve already told you that there are five prayers a day, but there are six times you hear the adhan. Don’t you think it’s a little strange?
Actually, the first and second times are announced with 10 to 15 minutes in between, before the prayer at the beginning of the day. The first time of prayer is just after daybreak, so it is still dark. Therefore, the first adhan serves as an alarm clock, and the second one tells you the time of prayer.
It makes me smile when I imagine that it reflects the people’s thoughts that however prayers are important, it’s hard to wake up in the morning!
February 3, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
We wish you a wonderful year 2011.
As you might know, Muslims give prayers five times a day (please check our blog entry in October 8th, 2009 which explains the timings). Announcements, called adhan, are called out from each mosque to tell people the time of prayers. The adhan is not recorded, but a person recites it every time.
Words of the adhan are the same in every country and region, but there are differences in how they are delivered. Here in Amman, you can hear the calls of adhan from mosques here and there at exactly the same time. There is also a radio program which announces the timing of prayers, and it starts at exactly the same time as well.
On the other hand, outside of Amman City, the timings of the voices are slightly different. There are some mismatches, as if when listening to a troll. Can you tell why?
I’d like to explain the reason for that in the next report. Don’t miss it !
January 20, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
Learning from communication
“We have our teeth treated when we get cavities; we drink medicine when we get sick.”
We often hear comments like this when we interview teachers, parents and children.
Even when children enjoy studying in a safe school, it would be difficult for them to concentrate in class if they have a sore tooth or continuous diarrhea.
JEN hopes to assist improving the sanitary conditions of entire communities through teaching children methods of healthcare.
In 2010, our target locations were Baghdad city, Anbar (which neighbors Baghdad), and Babil.We installed and repaired toilets and water facilities, and also held a workshop on sanitary reform. In the workshop targeting elementary school teachers, held in October and November, thoughts, requests and suggestions were actively shared among the participants and also JEN staff. During this workshop, we heard many comments that the teachers wished to hold such workshops on a broader basis, meaning that they were eager to share the experience with other schools, parents of their students and the whole community as well.
We also received suggestions on the teaching material from the teachers’ point of view. It is very important for us to look back on our activities, so that in the near future, the teachers themselves would be able to conduct health education in a more effective way.
In December, JEN expanded the area of activity to Kirkuk and Diyala. We have now taken on school renovation and hygiene education in five provinces in central and northern Iraq. We have been able to learn many lessons from our activities in 2010, and are looking forward to making use of the experience in our new projects.
(Excerpt from Newsletter No.44)
January 20, 2011 in Iraq | Permalink
The New Project Has Been Started!
Thanks to the cooperation of all of the supporters, UN-OCHA and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, school reconstruction and hygiene promotion project had been completed in the end of October and November respectively. We would like to say thank you again.
The new project has been started from December 1st. On this project, two prefectures are newly added as our action field. They are Diyala prefecture (bounded on the northeast of the capital Baghdad) and Kirkuk prefecture (located on the north side from Baghdad). Now our project is taken place in five prefectures; Baghdad, Babil, Anbar and the above-mentioned two prefectures.
These newly added two prefectures are not under good international support due to the security problem. It is said that many school buildings were destructed by fierce battle during the year 2006 ~ 2007 in Diyala. In other words, it is said as the hardest prefecture for the citizens to enjoy the basic social services.
In Kirkuk prefecture where the refugees, returners and people in several ethnic groups as Arab, Kurd and Turkmen live together, the international support is still not enough for their needs. In 2007 as the terrible epidemic year of cholera in Iraq, the patients in this prefecture accounted 60% of the whole. We are apprehensive that the morbidity rate will get higher in case of re-epidemic as it is one of the most densely populated prefecture in Iraq.
Disease transmitted by water such as cholera can be adequately prevented by good hygienic condition. JEN is going to take actions for hygienic enlightening projects started with the reconstruction of broken water and other hygienic equipment.
December 9, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
The Hygiene Promotion Workshop was held
We hold the hygiene promotion workshop at 25 targeted schools from the beginning of October.
It was scheduled for two days at each school, targeted mainly for the teachers. On the first day, we had a lecture and on the second day, we had a review and also the guide of actual teaching method for children.
It might be a bit busy for the teachers to participate in the interval of their own classes. It was greatly pleased for us JEN members to hear a teacher say casually to a latecomer, “I heard a very useful lecture during your absence!” We realized that our long processed hygiene promotion project was received as a help for them.
We distributed the teaching materials and hygienic kits at this workshop, of which introduced several time on this blog. For checking detailed content of teaching materials, please refer to following blog.
We apologize that the article is written in Japanese.
This workshop was held with the cooperation of all of the supporters, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UN-OCHA.
November 25, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Hajj - Sacrificing -
Hajj starts on the 8th day in December, the month for pilgrimage on Islamic calendar. Muslims sacrifice animals on 10th day.
It’s regulated to offer a sheep per a pilgrim or a cow / a camel per seven pilgrims. These animals should not have any disease: they should not be blind even in one eye, should not have difficulty in walking with leg disease, and should not be emaciated for only skin and bones. Its age is also limited as over 5 years old for a camel, over 2 years old for a cow, and over 6 months for a sheep. Traditionally, pilgrims had been butchering the animals by themselves or observing others do butchering. In these latter days they don’t have even to observe by paying for an agency.
This change has some reasons, but one of these seems to be a hygienic problem by facing a left meat on street.
Then, to where do this butchered meat go? To be eaten by pilgrims? To be thrown away? No way, it is to be packed and delivered to the needy all over the world.
December 10th on Islamic calendar falls the first day of Eid holiday (=the festival of sacrifice called Eid ul Adha). All of the Muslims who are not on Hajj also sacrifice to celebrate this holiday.
November 11, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Hajj ~ Special Clothing for Pilgrimage ~
Hajj (the large pilgrimage to Mecca, for detail please refer to the article updated on July 16th, 2009 ) season will be started soon. Before this pilgrimage, male pilgrim should have his head shaved and should wear two pieces of white cloth called ihram. All kinds of plain white cloths without any pattern and any embroidery can be used as ihram. Even a belt to fasten the cloth on waist also hasno seam. It has only a pocket to keep the valuables. On the other hand, there’s no restriction on female’s cloths. She should have her just a little of hair tips cut.
No one can reach to Mecca and its neighboring area without ihram. Then, when do male pilgrims from all over the world change to the special cloths?
If he tries to reach by road, he can use one of five changing rooms called Miqat, located at 11 ~ 187 km away from Mecca.
If he reaches by air, he can change his cloths in a restroom on airplane before crossing the border. Anyway, here’s a problem that they have limited number of restrooms for all of passengers. There is always a long line at restrooms. I have heard about an unlucky man at the tail of the procession missed to change before crossing the border. Some people finish the change at departing airport to avoid this kind of risk.
October 28, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
A Message from a Engineer in Aｎbar Prefecture
Here Anbar prefecture where we have river Euphrates, is located in the west from the capital Bagdad, bordered on Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. People here still have tribal society and the number of main tribes exceeds 50. I would like to introduce Anbar to you with new pictures if possible, but unfortunately most of the landmarks are tumbled down.
I have been working for JEN as an engineer in Anbar since December, 2009. Before that, I had been belonged to a humanitarian supporting organization in Gulf States to engage in schools and wells construction/reconstruction projects for Southeast Asian people who needs to be supported. I feel happy to work for others in the field of humanitarian support, putting my specialty to account.
At last, do you know how we Iraqis feel for Japanese people? If you ask to 10 Iraqis, all of them will say as ‘diligent, good natured and always with smile’.
(Of course I’m one of them who answers so!)
October 14, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Breakfast in Jordan
Some of you who read the article for sweet tooth Jordan, updated in the beginning of July, might be interested in daily meals in Jordan. Today I’m going to introduce about Jordanian breakfast.
This picture shows a popular style of breakfast. Clockwise from the top,
It’s sometime pronounced like ‘Hobs’ in other countries, but it seems ‘Khobs’ is more similar to Arabian pronunciation.
Farafel:Fried bean paste with spice
Foul:Boiled and mashed broad bean
Hommos:Garbanzo bean paste, also called as ‘Hummus’
You can buy ‘khobs’ with a coin everywhere. It’s sold by the kilogram (roughly 12 ~ 13 pieces), not by loose as on picture. 1kg of Khobs costs only about USD 0.35. (Ex rate as of 19th February 2011)
Various makers have their original canned hommos. It will taste soft as in restaurants if you mix it with olive oil, mustard, ketchup and water.
September 30, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Breakfast in Jordan
Some of you who read the article about " sweet tooth Jordan ", might be interested in daily meals in Jordan. Today let me introduce Jordanian breakfast.
The picture shows a popular style of breakfast. Clockwise from the top,
*Khobs=pita bread: It’s sometime pronounced like ‘Hobs’ in other countries, but it seems ‘Khobs’ is more similar to Arabian pronunciation.
*Farafel: Fried bean paste with spice
*Foul: Boiled and mashed broad bean
*Hommos: Garbanzo bean paste, also called as ‘Hummus’
*Arabian Salad: Salad
You can buy ‘khobs’ with a coin everywhere. It’s sold by the kg (roughly 12 -13 pieces), not by loose as on picture. 1kg of Khobs costs only about USD 0.35*.
Various makers have their original canned Hommos. It will taste soft as in restaurants if you mix it with olive oil, mustard, ketchup and water.
(*Exchange rate: as of 19th February 2011)
September 30, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Before the New Term Starts
It has passed for two weeks since the second term started in Japan. Here in Iraq, the students have two more weeks to enjoy their summer vacation. (Anyway it seems to last boiling hot days over 40℃ in Baghdad.)
Now JEN project is in the last-minute preparation stage for the Hygiene Promotion Project.
(For detail please refer to the article written on February 4th and July 22nd.)
Already purchased the cleaning equipment, hygiene kits such as soaps and tooth brushes, our last work is only to prepare the teaching material. It will be organized the content, ordered some illustrations, and will get the approval of the Ministry of Education in Iraq before printing. We have been discussed in detail like the best size of the text would be…, the quality of papers would be…it would be better to select strong and lustrous paper for covers… and so on. Completed texts will be arrived from printer in the end of summer vacation.
This project is highly supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair (UN-OCHA) and all of the supporters.
September 16, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Ready to go
It is in September and has been for two weeks since the second term at school started in Japan. Here in Iraq, the students have two more weeks to enjoy their summer vacation. (Anyway it seems to last boiling hot days over 40℃ in Baghdad.)
Today, JEN's project is in the final preparation stage for the Hygiene Promotion Project.
(For further detail, please refer to the article on 4th February and 22nd July.)
Purchase of the cleaning equipment is done such as hygiene kits such as soaps and tooth brushes. Our last work is to finalize the teaching material. The content, some illustrations to be inserted in order, and will get the approval from the Ministry of Education in Iraq before sending over for printing process.
We have been discussing detail precisely, like the best size of the text would be…, the quality of papers would be…it would be better to select strong and lustrous paper for covers… and so on. Completed texts will be arrived from the printer in the end of summer vacation.
September 16, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Dates and Palm Trees
Now we are in September basis Islamic calendar, a Ramadan term of this year.
(As for Ramadan, please refer to the articles updated on September 2008 or October 2007.) Muslims fasts during daytime, from sunrise to sunset in a day.
This is a kind of confectionery called Klaicha, plenty made before Ramadan, and to be eaten well during Ramadan. This is made of the paste rolled with dates (fruit of date palm, shown in black part on picture), and later cut into pieces. Before the recipe was simplified, it had been made at a price. It had been rounded piece by piece not to show stuffed dates, coated its surface with yolk and then baked. It was a kind of work taken whole day. In Jordan and Palestine, sesame is occasionally stuffed instead of dates as it’s also familiar to them.
In Iraq, cutting down a palm tree is said to let a life disappear. During 2003 invasion of Iraq, a large number of palm trees were cut down to clear all the things shut out visibility. Some of Iraqi people think this is why they had heavy mortality.
September 2, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Dates and Palm Trees
Now we are in September based on Islamic calendar, fasting season of the year.
(More information about fasting season or "Ramadan", please refer to the articles updated on September 2008 or October 2007.)
This is a kind of confectionery called "Klaicha", plenty made before Ramadan, and to be eaten well during Ramadan. This is made of the paste rolled with dates (fruit of date palm, shown in black part on picture), and later cut into pieces. Before the recipe was simplified, it had been made at a price. It had been rounded piece by piece not to show stuffed dates, coated its surface with yolk and then baked. It was a kind of work taken whole day. In Jordan and Palestine, sesame is occasionally stuffed instead of dates as it’s also familiar to them.
In Iraq, cutting down a palm tree is said to let a life disappear. During 2003 invasion in Iraq, a large number of palm trees were cut down in order to visualize things are cleared. Some of Iraqi people think this is why they had heavy mortality.
September 2, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
What Can We Do With Only *\ 2,000 on Repairing Work?
In various activities of JEN we have been introduced to you until now,
I’m going to let you know today a part of what we can do with definite budget.
For example, we have watering equipment like this.
Water pipe underruns as below picture.
It has 6 meters from water main to reach the tap, and we can replace 1/3 of it to new one with \2,000.
If we have \2,000, we can also repaint two doors, or we can place two of new fluorescent lights.
If we would like to repair a rest room, we can re-cover the floor with mosaic tile
or we can place a hose and a tap as you can see on the left side on below picture.
The article on hygiene promotion project is appeared on autumn issue of JEN news letter.
*USD 24.05, exchange rate as of 8th Jan, 2011.
August 19, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
What Can We Do with your Contribution? - Repairing Work in Iraq.
Let me introduce to you, what we can do with definite budget.
For example, we have watering equipment like this.
Water pipe underruns as below picture
It has 6 meters from water main source to reach the tap, and we can replace 1/3 of it to new one with JPY2,000(*).
If we have JPY2,000, we can also repaint two doors, or place two of new fluorescent lights.
Moreover, to repair a rest room, we can re-cover the floor with mosaic tile
or we can place "a hose and a tap" as you can see on the left side on below picture.
The article on hygiene promotion project is appeared on autumn issue of JEN news letter .
(*USD 24.05, exchange rate as of 8th Jan, 2011.)
August 19, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Ramadan, the fasting and its tradition in Iraq
We will have Bon Festival, a Buddhist function in mid August in Japan. Most people would visit their ancestor's grave. Anyway, it should not be well known that people in Iraq also have custom to visit family grave.
They visit two times a year; the first day after Ramadan (=called 'Eid', a festival to celebrate the end of Ramadan), and the first day of Hajj (= Pilgrimage to mecca). Christian era counts 365 days for a year, but Islamic era (=Hijrah) counts 354 days for a year. Basis Christian era, we feel like the first day of Eid and Hajj changes every year. For this year, as Ramadan period was 30 days from August 11th 2010 A.D, Eid started from September 10th, and Hajj was from November 16th.
They don't have custom to put flowers and other offerings on graves just like Japanese people do. Instead a passage from Koran should be read out by a member of family, or sometime by Mullah, a man well familiarized with Islamic commandment and doctrine, or by a beggar.
Incidentally, remains are wrapped with white cotton cloth after being cleansed. Each remains are committed to the earth, lied in the direction their heads toward Mecca. For Shia Muslims, being buried in Najaf prefecture is highly boasted as they have first Imam (=leader) of Shia Ali's grave there.
August 5, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
School Reconstruction and Hygiene Workshop
Now JEN's project is under way side by side with Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with UN-OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). During the 7 months from April to the end of October this year, school reconstruction and hygiene promotion project are taken place in elementary schools and junior highs schools in Baghdad.
As of July 15th, 7 school buildings are completed reconstruction. We are planning to prepare the cleaning equipment, hygiene kits (such as toothbrush and soap) and the teaching materials which will be used at our hygiene workshop. The hygiene workshop will be started once the new term started.
Hygiene workshop has two purposes to prevent children from infectious disease transmitted by water such as cholera, and to help children’s understanding the importance to keep clean by cleaning their school. This project also helps to maintain the improved school environment by school reconstruction project. The cleaning equipments and hygiene kits will be handed to children so that they can practice studied hygienic knowledge at once.
July 22, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Some Like It Hot
Here in Jordan, we rarely have spicy hot foods. Instead what we see everywhere in the town is sweet food.
If you order a cup of tea here, it will be served with plenty of sugar. So sweet lemonade with mint is no surprise for the people here, even if it gives me a little regret ordering it to have a refreshing taste.
At first I arrived in Jordan for work, I thought it was just by coincidence to have so sweet foods. Now as I know how sweet tooth the people here, I learned to order a soft drink without sugar and adjust the taste by myself to avoid too sweet drinks.
It is not only drinks that is sweet, but also the sweets. They are the great enemy for dieters as it also contains plenty of oil. In a Korean restaurant, you will be served Jordan tasted sweet barbecued beef. In an Italian restaurant, you might be served sweet coleslaw salad for relish.
Why don't you try so sweet tooth Jordan?
July 8, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Thanks to the cooperation of all our supporters and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, four school buildings are being newly reconstructed in our school reconstruction and hygiene promotion projects. Three out of four schools are already in progress, but the remaining one is yet to be touched. Why would that be?
The annual baccalaureate exam for Iraqi students is held in June. Sixth graders take this exam to graduate, seniors in intermediate schools (for 3 years from age 12) and secondary schools (3 years from age 15) to graduate and enter higher level schools. Exams are taken one subject at a time every two days, and in total it takes two weeks to complete. The examination fee is free. The cut-off line is 50% correct answers to pass this exam. If students fail to pass, they need to retake the exam next year. Apparently, retaking the exam places you in further disadvantage since each retake deduces one point from your total score. Students who are retaking the exam for the first time are allowed to repeat their senior year to prepare for it, but they must prepare for the second retake and then on by themselves.
Grade dictates students’ options for high school. Without good grades, it becomes difficult for seniors in intermediate school to go on to secondary schools. In this case, they could go into industrial, commercial, or technical high schools. If you are a senior in secondary school, grades will affect your chances to become accepted to prestigeous national universities with excellent professors and free tuition.
Since the one remaining school was being used as a baccalaureate exam site, we were not able to commence our project there.
June 24, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Port Meat Available
As I have already introduced a lot about ‘Garment’, today I’m going to introduce about ‘food’.
Here in Amman, the majority of citizens are Muslims. As it’s said that Muslims don’t take pork meat, what we see at a meat section of supermarkets are only chicken, beef and lamb meat. We never see pork in supermarkets. You may have a question whether expatriates are unable to have pork until their home-leave, doubt so. There’s a way for non Muslims. In Amman, there is specialized ‘pork meat shops’ (not just ‘meat shop’) ran by Non Muslims.
The shop I have visited sells processed and frozen pork meat. Even frozen whole pork carcasses is available! 200g of frozen pork shoulder cost me 2 Jordanian dinars (= USD 2.82, currency pegged since 1995), far more expensive than other kind of meat I usually take. Although, my first bite of pork meat in a while tasted so special.
June 10, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Changes since the Toilet Reconstruction
“Before the toilets were reconstructed, many students left the school early to go to the bathroom. This is because our toilets were absolutely unusable. Now, we not only have great toilets but also electric fans and electricity. Thanks to these improvements, students are more motivated, and fewer students are late to school. I am also aware that we are trying to maintain the toilets in their functional state.”
This is a comment that we received from Mr. Abd, who teaches Arabic to sixth graders, at the school that was reconstructed through the combined effort of all of our supporters and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is unthinkable in Japan that students go home to use the toilet. Here in Iraq, however, it is accepted as nothing unusual. To make matters worse, students do not come back to school once they return to their homes because they live quite far.
We will continue our work to enable students to properly learn in school as soon as possible.
May 27, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Iraqi Women’s Headwear
Last time, I introduced you to Iraqi men’s headwear called kafiyyeh. This time, I would like to talk about the Muslim women’s headwear.
You might easily imagine what they look like, but people may imagine them differently. One might imagine it to be a piece of black cloth that covers from head to toe except for the eyes, while another may imagine it to be a piece of white cloth that covers from head to back.
Here in Jordan, where we have the JEN office, we see women in different head wears, but the most popular style is the one that covers from head to neck. There are many different color variations among these cloths, and some of them are embroidered. There are many ways to wear it, too, but today I will introduce you the simplest way.
1)Bind your hair up with a wide hair band. Please be careful not to show your ears and hair.
2)Wear the cloth from your head and leave one end longer than the other. Roll up the short end to your throat to hide your neck.
3)Pull up the longer end (right side of the picture) over your neck, around your head, to your right ear. Fix the cloth around the ear (marked with an arrow on the picture) with a pin, and you now have the Iraqi headwear!
May 13, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
Comment from a Father at the Reconstructed School in Baghdad
Thanks to the cooperation of all of our supporters and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it has been five years since we started our school reconstruction and hygiene promotion projects in three provinces in Iraq (Baghdad, Anbar, and Babil). Our hygiene promotion project aims to improve the local hygiene environment and enhance the local people’s sanitary habits.
Recently, I*, who have never actually been to the project site, received a pleasant message from a staff in Baghdad.
It’s a message from the father of a student who goes to the recently reconstructed school, and I would like to share it with all of you.
“All families in this region are talking about the school that has been reconstructed lately. The toilets and electricity had been out of order and left unrepaired for over six years. Now, my son loves going to the newly renovated school. Thanks to JEN, he has become more motivated to learn and his marks have gotten better. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank all of you who helped reconstructing our school from the bottom of my heart!”
*Due to security situations in Iraq, all Japanese staffs are residing in the neighboring country Amman and remote-monitoring the project.
April 28, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
What is Kafiyyeh?
Imagine an Arabian man.
What is he wearing?
Don’t you imagine him wearing something around his head?
This piece of cloth is called kafiyyeh. They wrap it around their heads or necks to protect themselves against sunburn and the cold. As you can see in these pictures, there are many ways in which you can wear it.
Can you see something black holding the red kafiyyeh?
I used to think they were using two layers of rubber bands, but I’d been mistaken. It was actually an inelastic cord.
Ｔhe color of the cloth generally indicates where the person is from. The color combination of red and white is Jordan, black and white Palestine, and black with fine white stripes is Iraq (especially the Shiites).
Here in Amman, we also see a lot of people using kafiyyeh to decorate the inside of their cars.
April 15, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
The implications of working in “Emergency” period
As we are working in emergency and a complicated situation in Iraq, there are no fixed activities or duties. We need to always do whatever that is necessary to achieve our goal.
I start my day by calling our staff to check if everything is ok and pray for no bad news especially, from the local authority and contractors. If the day starts without such problems, then it allows me to focus and concentrate on the rehabilitation activity, material purchasing and training program.
To develop our activities even further, I am studying now the GIS system. This is a geographical mapping system that is enhanced with many features to show on the map assistance density, population concentration and secure zones. These maps can then be shared with JEN’s partners such as distribution contractors to facilitate our projects.
So far I passed about 20% of this system. However it still a lot to and requires some familiarity with database technology. In any respect, the race of 1000 miles starts with one step forward.
April 1, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
How to Vote in an Election in Iraq
Iraqi parliamentary election was held on last 7th March. The polling stations were placed not only in Iraq but also in 16 foreign countries. One of them is here in Jordan. Today I am going to introduce the election notice paper that was distributed to every family, which shows how to vote for a party and a candidate.
A: Every party has its own number.
B: To identify a candidate, every candidate also has his or her own number.
Candidate’s name is shown by the photograph.
Now, how to vote? First of all everyone inks their forefinger as they visit a polling station. This ink seems to stay and difficult to remove and we see people with ink on their finger everywhere on the street!
First, you receive a voting paper and mark following three questions.
1) The voter’s registered address in Iraq
2) Party that you vote for
3) Candidate that you vote for
Once the three sections are marked, voting is completed!
It was another interesting finding of different voting systems in Iraq and Japan.
March 18, 2010 in Iraq | Permalink
A prayer toward Mecca
Muslims have a duty to pray five times a day, a service called “Salat”.
While those who have time go to a nearby Mosque every time to pray, the majority of people pray in quiet places in their house or office using a mat specially made for praying purposes. Wherever they are, they always pray facing the Kaaba in the Saudi Arabian Mecca.
JEN’ local staff also start washing their hands, legs, and faces when they hear an announcement from the Mosque or an alarm set on their mobile phones that signal that it’s time to pray.
How do those who move around a lot know the direction of Kaaba?
The answer is in the prayer mat. The mat comes with a disc that has numbers written on it. You simply have to turn the mat around to set the compass needle to each country’s designated number (Jordan ‘s number is 225).
I am impressed by the massive scale of Muslim praying all over the world toward one place, all at the same time.
November 19, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
JEN organizes workshop events on hygiene.
The school renovation and hygiene project for 17 elementary and junior high schools in Baghdad enters its final stage, which has started in March 2009 supported by our supporters and government of Japan.
Now, JEN’s Program Officer is organizing two-day hygiene workshops in each school. The workshop teaches how to build and maintain the students’ health in the long term by using the renovated brand new hygiene facilities that connect to public water supply system.
On the first day, school teachers from each school are taught basic knowledge on hygiene, infections like cholera and H1N1, and importance of cleaning.
On the second day, a teacher conducts hygiene education for students, following review of the first day. Thanks to teachers’ endeavor, the class sometimes includes practical training of how to brush their teeth and to wash their hands using the hygiene goods that JEN gave out.
The teachers who attended the two-day workshops will each conduct hygiene education in their classes.
November 5, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
“Global Hand washing Day”
15th October is UN’s “Global Hand washing Day”, designed to teach the importance of washing hands for prevention of infections. The day was celebrated all over the world.
Every year, 1.5 million children of five years-old or younger lose their lives from diarrhea. It is said that washing hands with soap can reduce the occurrence of diarrhea by 60% (UNICEF, 2009). This day is therefore a very important one to save children’s lives.
JEN held workshop events at 17 junior high and high schools in Baghdad that JEN had renovated to teach children the importance of washing hands. The events were held for one week around Global Hand washing Day. JEN organized ceremonies of washing hands at renovated water supply facilities. JEN also held photo contests on hygiene. UN agencies gave cute posters and T-shirts.
JEN will continue to focus on Hygiene education so that Iraqi children learn the habit of hand washing and live without fear of cholera.
October 22, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
The Culture of Bowing in Japan and in Jordan
It seems that when the Japanese bow endlessly in front of their houses, it feels strange to people living in Arab countries. That is because for Muslims, bowing is only done for Allah to show on’s devotion.
Muslims practice their religion by bowing and praying toward the Kaaba temple at Mecca in Saudi Arabia five times a day. They go to Mosque on Friday, which is their religious holiday of Islam and pray, even if they pray regularly in their house . Here in Jordan, weekend consists of two days, from Friday to Saturday including the Muslim holiday.
The timing to pray are 1) dawn, 2) sometime between dawn and noon, 3) sometime until when the size of their shadow reaches the size of the actual body , 4) sometime between sunset until dusk, 5) dusk.
The praying method is very precise. First of all, they wash their hands and face in prearranged order. Sunnis are required to wash feet as well. Then they stand upright facing toward the Mecca. Then they repeatedly say “Allah is great” while moving your open palms to your ears, bowing, kneeling down to the ground and bowing forward until the forehead touches the ground, in veneration. Finally, kneeling and facing down, they pray for blessing of Allah to Muslim and the Prophet. In the end, they will recite their final words, “peace be upon him” while swinging your head from side to side.
Bowing is in fact a very important part of their religious practice Of course, they also have culture to respect older persons like Japan. However, people do not bow in front of the elderly to show respect It is one of the many moments to feel the cultural differences.
October 8, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
Visit to the Iftar Tent
This week is the last week of Islam’s fasting month of Ramadan. Excitement and anticipation in the area grew as the “time-off for Eid” neared the 20th day of Ramadan. During Ramadan, various companies set up tents throughout the city, offering Iftar or `dinner after sunset`, completely free of charge. These tents are mainly used by those who have completed the spiritual journey but either cannot enjoy Iftar with their family, or cannot afford it. JEN’s office in Amman was very near a tent run by a Jordanian trading company.
JEN always tries to express their interest and respect for the ritual and often visits the tents. Obviously we understand the spiritual importance of Ramadan to Muslims, and as the tents are primarily for those entering into Ramadan, a Hijab scarf hiding hair is always worn for female staff, and long-sleeved shirt and pants by all.
Once inside the tents it was clear that it is mostly male laborers who use the tents, with only three family groups. Many were very interested in this unfamiliar group of Asian women, as understandably they were not the usual type of person you would see eating Iftar! Nevertheless, we were always welcomed warmly by the locals. The tents offer different dishes every day, the days dish being a “Moroccan stew with tomato and gram”. It was indeed very delicious! They are open everyday during Ramadan.
September 24, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
Traffic jam around mosques
Arab world is in the midst of Ramadan (the month of fasting) which continues for one month once a year. Through the month, Muslims live more faithfully following Islam’s teachings than other months. Muslims frequently go to mosques and pray in morning and evening.
JEN’s Amman office is located near a white and comparatively new mosque in Amman. We can hear the “azan”, a loud announcement for salat, the prayer, five times a day. I am glad that I can live an environment where I can enjoy hearing azan when I go to sleep and when I am working.
However, there is only one thing I am annoyed with. That is the traffic jam around mosques. A street crossing close-by that we must use to go everywhere is packed with double-parked cars along the two sides of the street. Sometimes the cars block the whole street crossing!
September 10, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
How can we stay in Jordan in the long term?
Visitor paper is very useful to stay in Amman in the long term. However issuance of the paper needs several procedures. At first, you need to register your organization with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. And then, you also need to register your office with the city government of Amman and take an HIV/AIDS blood test.
Then, you need to file some documents at the Ministry of Interior for foreiner registration, get a work permit from the Ministry of Labor and be interviewed at police stations. Through these six steps, the visitor paper will be finally issued.
Jordan accepts many immigrants from states such as the neighboring country Egypt, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. There are many agencies that were developed to deal with the legal procedures. It is not rare that one applicant has around 20 passports. However, individual applicants must go through the crowd at the desk and convince and beg the lazy officials, to promptly deal with its procedures, again and again.
This process for Japanese people is the same as Iraqi people. However, for Iraqi people, bank’s balance statement and an interview to investigatewhether they have any relationships with fringe groups and other steps are needed.
August 27, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
Force of Partnership
JEN has supported 17 Elementary and Junior High Schools in Baghdad to renovate water and hygiene equipments supporters and Japanese Government. Now 10 out of 17 schools have been completed since February 2009. Another 7 schools have entered the final stage.
Most of the building constructors which join JEN’s school renovation projects have been in partnership with JEN since they started the projects in Iraq in 2003. JEN registered building constructors made requirements for security, in observance of the guidelines by the Iraqi Ministry of Construction and Housing, referring to the quality of work, access to the sites and price. JEN called for bids for the projects so their skill to renovate the schools was proven and JEN knows their ability of office work through actual bids and contracts.
When I came here as a finance officer, invoices and receipts issued by the building constructors included many typo errors. So sometimes it took two months to make them issue the correct documents. Over the last year, their ability of office work has developed gradually. Some companies changed the design of their documents and they responded to our requests quickly and correctly.
I am very pleased if JEN’s projects contribute to development of the local building constructors’ written competence.
August 13, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
Capacity building for the teachers
Today, thousands of teachers need to be trained in Iraq. The efficiency depends on the experience, but also they always need to continue their skills to brush up.
It is believed in this decade that the sufficient changes should be implemented to education. For example, “illiteracy” is regarded as “a lack of ability to access the new knowledge”. The Ministry of Education of Iraq has continued to emphasize the importance of training teachers in its annual plan since 2003. However, apparently, this training has been really limited and making only a little progress.
It is also planned that the government of Iraq should contain training for teachers by cooperating with international organizations. And it is proposed that teachers are to come to Japan for the effective training and also specialists should be sent from Japan to Iraq for the support of their education system.
The Education department is always making a progress bit by bit. Recently JEN has emphasized the development of the education environment. This project not only develops access to education for children, but also educates students for the future of the country. At the same time, JEN hopes for the development of health and that our project can be used effectively.
July 2, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
Generation Gap and Culture Gap
Iraq, Jordan and other Arabic states generally regards honor and dignity of the“family” as the most important value of society. According to Iraqi staff, those who were recognized as refugees by the legal process and migrated to liberal western states suffered from a lot of mental stress.
Most Iraqi people are devout Muslim. The relationship among their family is recognized as the most important thing. Muslims live based on Islam. For example, Muslims consistently pray 5 times a day and never drinks alcohol.
If those who have Islamic value, living in western states, not all Iraqi people, but most of them must live in the place where there is no school and shopping center with equipment for praying. It is very difficult to keep their Islamic living practice because work and study prevent them from going to Islamic religious service on Friday (holiday in Islam).
This causes a generation gap mentally between parents who try to keep their Arabic culture and children who go to school in a new environment and have friends there. It frequently causes social problems, too.
June 4, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
Work in progress
I am a new Programme Officer in Baghdad. I am an Iraqi, born in 1956. I work in the field of education since 1980. I hope that peace will prevail in my country and everyone works dutifully towards construction and development in all areas.
You know that my country was subjected to three wars since 1980 until 2003 and a scientific and an economic blockade since 1991 until 2003, as well as the problems that occurred after 2003. that these wars have led to the underdevelopment of the country to keep pace with development in all spheres of life. It has produced many of the problems of educational, health, environmental, economic and others. Japanese people would know very well the negative consequences of the wars more than others.
In these lines, I shall focus on the most important issue that must address is the development of people’s understanding. To enable this development, each of us should understand his rights and duties and have the love of the homeland to contribute to the reconstruction of the country. All decisions need to be made based on public interests, love, peace and tolerance rather than hatred, violence, revenge. It is true that this kind of peace education requires time, I think we should start now, and the beginning with children (kindergartens and schools), because children are more flexible to new concepts and the one who hold the future of my country and its communities.
Therefore, we have to think about how to do this task. What is the role of the state? How can non-governmental organizations to contribute to it? We should benefit from the experiences of other countries in this area, particularly Japan.
April 23, 2009 in Iraq | Permalink
Arabic Asset Management
People living in Arab countries reportedly do not use interest-earning bank accounts. How do they manage their asset without fixed deposits?
Serving as an alternative, there is something called the Islamic Banking in the region, which is a system that serves as a go-between for personal investments. The bank and individual investor agree to invest in some project and receive an “advantage” which is not identified as “interest”. The advantage usually ranges from 5% to 10%. However, they sometimes may not receive any advantages. Even though they will not receive any advantages for some years, they can maintain a relationship of mutual trust. This is the style of Arabic business.
Another way of asset management is the possession of gold. Thanks to the increase in the price of gold, acknowledgement of “gold as fortune” is now widely prevalent. Some say “possession of gold is the best way of asset management because it makes men happy by getting lots of money, and at the same time makes women happy by receiving gold”.
In Amman, there exists a long street of gold shops (suku) which get very crowded during the weekends. The designs of gold items seem to be different from Japanese tastes, which are mostly big ornaments or heavy chains.
November 27, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
After the Visit from the Monitoring Team
On November 3rd, the staff of JPF (Japan Platform) visited JEN’s office in Amman to monitor JEN’s projects in Iraq. The JEN project in Iraq has been executed through remote management since 2003.
JEN has concluded the last projects funded by JPF in Baghdad, by achieving complete or partial renovation for 84 elementary or junior high schools, hygiene education, distribution of study desks, foundation of school management committees and facilitation for the committee.
JEN is currently carrying out the renovation of 18 schools. The projects have benefited 75,000 students, 3,500 teachers and more than 5,000 labors.
In 2004, JEN renovated 6 sewage facilities in Baghdad, which benefited more than 100,000 people and 400 laborer’s lives.
JEN would like to take this opportunity to thank JPF for its long-term assistance and everyone for their support in JEN’s Iraq projects.
This will be the last JPF funded project. However, JEN continues renovation of water supply facilities in schools which is a highly prioritized need in the educational field.
We hope that you will continue to support JEN!
November 13, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
Arabic Sweet That Brings Happiness
After the fasting month of Ramadan that I introduced twice in these blogs, a local staff brought Arabic sweets (see the photo above) to our office. These treats taste very sweet.
These are called “Ma’mool” in Jordan and “Kulaija“in Iraq. They usually eat it during “Eid”, the festival that occurs five days after Ramadan. In order for the sweets to bring happiness, it must be home-made. The local staff bought a home oven so that his wife could bake the cookies.
In Iraq, around five million people are currently away from their homes due to the war. For a maximum six years, some of the people have baked the “Kulaija” away from their homes. Year after year, they hope for peace and stability of their home-nation, and an immediate return to their homes.
JEN helps to prepare an acceptable environment returnees from evacuation site to return to, through the improvement of the education environment in Iraq.
October 16, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
To Know Ramadan Part #2: “Almsgiving”
I would like to talk about "almsgiving" which is one of The Five Pillars of the Muslim. Almsgiving sounds like a difficult concept but it just means 'contribution'.
There are two kinds of almsgiving. One is "zakat" and another one is "sadaqa". Nowadays, zakat is recognized as systematic (obligatory) almsgiving and sadaqa is recognized as voluntary almsgiving.
"Zakat" is comparable to a tax imposed on Muslims, which is used for assistance to the poor. People pay it to the government like tax. Every year the government decides the rate of this tax. This year, they decided 1.5 JD (approximately 212 JPY) per person.
On the other hand, "sadaqa" is a voluntary donation. Neighbors ask each other for donations and hand it to aid poor families. This is a mutual aid system among neighbors, which is different from governmental welfare.
Such a mutual aid system is prevalent across the Islamic world. One of them is called "table of Allah" where Muslim give Iftar to the poor. We can see tables and chairs beside mosques, restaurants and hotels. People are taking a seat there in the evening. Anyone can take a seat and it is free. It is chance for the poor to have delicious meal because the restaurants must give them the same quality as the meals served inside.
October 2, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
To know Ramadan Part #1: “Fasting”
The season of Ramadan of this year has begun. Ramadan is the 9th month in the year of the Hijra, the Islamic calendar. During the season, Muslims deeply study the Koran and perform “The Five Pillars of the Muslim” or five duties deemed on every Muslim; Shahadah (profession of faith), Salat (ritual prayer), Zakat (almsgiving), Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
Japanese are unfamiliar with Ramadan, which is one of the Islamic duties. Ramadan does not mean that Muslim eat nothing for a month. It means that Muslims refrain from eating from sunrise to sunset. It is prohibited to have not only food, but also water and smoking.
Every day, when we hear azan, reciting the Koran from the mosques, every Muslim begins to have Iftar (dinner after fasting).
In the afternoon, roads that are usually already crowded with many cars, become packed with event more cars to go home. In the evening, drivers get crazy because they are anxious to get home by sunset. Some of them violate the speed limit and drive violently, nearly getting crushed.
Then when the Muslims finish Iftar, they feel full of much appreciation for Allah. After Iftar, they meet their relatives and friends till late at night. We can see electric spectaculars like Christmas and nicely dressed people in the city.
September 18, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
Facing the issue: Water Supply in Jordan
Jordan is cooler than it’s neighboring countries, and also has a large source of water. However, the time of year has come, as usual, to become worried and anxious about the water shortage. Jordan has suffered from it every year because there are no reservoir in the country. Therefore there are laws such as one that bans car-washing by hose.
The temperature in Iraq is 10 to 15 degrees C higher than that in Amman. In the summer season in Iraq, it has become 50 degrees C or over in hottest days. Reportedly, in Sadr City, a poverty stricken place in Baghdad often faces water stoppage and has insufficient public facilities for water supply. The hotter it becomes, the desire for access to safe water increases.
JEN’s school renovation project focuses on the facility related to water supply or sewage water. Because schools are public facilities, it is possible for this facility to become the water for the surrounding community as well. JEN has now decided that the current school renovation project which is supported by JPF (Japan Plat Form) and other donors shall include Elementary and Junior High Schools in Sadr City. JEN hopes the renovated schools will contribute to the communities in the area.
August 7, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
Prices Rise in Jordan (Part I)
There has been severe inflation in Jordan over these past few years. From 2003 to 2008, the price of sugar (that supports the lifestyle of sweet-tooth Jordanians) has risen from JPY1,000 to JPY4,000 per 50kg, and similarly the price of 25 kilograms of rice has risen from JPY450 to JPY2,500.
There are two main reasons for this price rise:
The first is that due to the War in Iraq, the crude oil agreements with neighbouring country Iraq have failed. Prior to the war, Jordan received oil from Iraq for half its original price in exchange for Jordanian food and basic needs (there is a more favourable climate in Jordan to grow food). However, during the war from 2003, Jordan was faced with no alternative but to import oil at standard prices from countries such as Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Under the old agreement, one barrel of oil (159 litres) was US$14, but now the same amount costs US$141. Just like Japan, daily functions in Jordan depend on oil, and therefore this had a very large effect on Jordan.
July 10, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
Efforts hidden in toilets
JEN is now organizing pictures of the operation which was completed in the beginning of April.
It is a fun work to see photographs of cleanly newborn schools after restorations. This time, I am fascinated by the toilet tiles.
Don't you think that the tiles are as decent as of hotels with pastel colors and cutovers?
According to staff members in Baghdad, building constructors in Iraq collect samples from European countries in recent years and study interior designing.
JEN's specification describes to apply tiles on toilet walls and the quality of the tiles has to fulfill the standard which JEN specifies in the specification. However, it does not require elaborate designs.
The building constructors seem to make efforts for high completeness to the extent permitted for their budgets. We can imagine that children use the toilets comfortably.
May 15, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
Places where children love
The restoration of schools terminated in the beginning of April. It was conducted by the donation of the Japan Platform(JPF) and individual donnors from September last year.
We conducted mainly restorations of tanks, toilets, sinks and others which were needed to repair urgently in 25 elementary schools and junior high schools in Baghdad, and pass over to the Education Ministry of Iraq.
New operations started from the end of April focus on 18 elementary schools and junior high schools in the capital city. They will fix water-related facilities, electric equipments, doors and windows, and will build up safe and clean educational environment.
JEN’s educational supports in Iraq will continue to make the place children love comfortable.
May 1, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
Japanese Devices, Iraqi Devices
While implementing JEN’s school reconstruction projects, we make an attempt to take into consideration the opinion of the teaching staff. This is why there are small variations in each of the schools, such as the colors of the walls.
The faucet shown in this picture is one such example. I do not think this type of faucet can be seen in Japan. The handle of the faucet is at the bottom, with the tip facing upwards. In Japan, there are multi-purpose faucets where the tip of the faucet can rotate according to whether you want to drink the water, or wash your hands.
I was left wondering why we could not install what I believed was a more convenient faucet that faces up for drinking, and faces downwards for washing. I asked the local engineer about this. He explained that he is avoiding rotating faucets because they consist of more joining parts, and it is easier to break.
After the school reconstruction is complete and handed over to the Iraqi Ministry of Education, it is the responsibility of the teachers and staff to preserve and maintain the facilities. It is essential for us to accommodate our facilities to make repair as low cost as possible and strong to stand the wear and tear of the long-term use of these facilities by the school children.
March 6, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
The Appearance of Men ～ Key to a Happy Marriage
(Continued from previous entry)
‘Men also make an effort to look attractive for their partners,’
The men talked about how they must always appear clean and tidy, and wear the cologne that their wife likes. They think that such efforts are necessary, that it is the key to a happy marriage!
Men crowd the perfume stores in the shopping districts of Arab countries that are lined with a variety of perfumes. I hear from Muslims that in the Hadith (sayings by the Prophet Muhammad), which is considered just as important as the Koran, there are many references that express the need to respect your wife.
My friend showed me a picture of him and his wife taken at their home during their wedding anniversary. The picture showed a cheerful woman with light makeup and beautiful hair. What left an impression on me was the warm look that they were giving each other in the picture.
Just as with any religion or culture, there may be Muslim women that behave in a modest manner. However, it is limiting to make judgments based on biased information or generalizations. I think it is important to put ourselves into their shoes as we come into contact with all types of lifestyles and ideologies. This might be a roundabout way in order to pursue a project that suits the locals’ needs, but it is important as I am gaining new perspectives on culture on a daily basis.
February 21, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
The Appearance of Women
Local staff members not only have conversations about the progress of the project, or the Iraqi situation, sometimes daily conversation extends to cover topics such as Arab culture and the teachings of Islam.
The other day the topic of women’s fashion came up. Though Jordan consists largely of Muslim believers, it has a relatively liberal atmosphere. However, while some women stride through the city wearing fitted, glamorous clothes and makeup, the reality of the situation is that the majority of women cover themselves entirely wearing a headscarf and light makeup.
The wife of one of our staff is one such woman that seems to favour a more conservative and reserved dress sense. Following Islamic values, she dresses in a way that does not draw attention to her when she goes out. However, we learnt that when she returns home, she applies makeup before her husband comes home: ‘This is normal!’ he answers and smiles, ‘of course, it’s only for me to see!’ he adds.
If this story ended here, modern opinion may have you thinking that ‘Islamic women are still living in the shadows of men…’ However, his story continues…
February 7, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
The Playful Hearts of a Construction Company?
Given the present security situation in Baghdad, international staff members are unable to go directly onto the project site. We monitor the progress of the construction and maintenance through pictures taken by our local staff members in Baghdad.
Amongst the pictures we received last week was one of a both beautiful drawing of a playful animal drawn as part of the construction. In the past, we have seen flower patterns and slogans, but this is the first time we have seen an actual drawing.
JEN covers the outer coating of school buildings in the construction, but it does not include pictures. The paint used to draw such pictures on the walls is at the personal expense of the local construction company. The local construction company that oversees the construction work for JEN projects is chosen through an appropriate bidding process.
The two schools shown in these pictures have both been given positive assessments in their past projects with JEN. The fact that the company purchased the paint at their own expense despite the ongoing competition amongst the contractors may have been a sign that they wanted to display the high quality of their reconstruction. Or perhaps they wanted to provide a modest gift to the children that live in the midst of such hard times.
In any case, it is incredibly wonderful that these delightful drawings are creating happiness for both the teachers and students alike.
January 24, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
The New Year: a Time for Happiness
Two weeks have passed quickly in the New Year.
There are relatively few national holidays in Iraq and Jordan. However, towards the end of last December, there was a rare streak of holidays including the Festival of Sacrifice, Christmas, and both the Christian and Muslim New Year. Kirieche, a homemade Iraqi sweet, was made and shared to celebrate the Festival of Sacrifice.
As the holiday season continues, JEN, with the support of the Japan Platform, are continuing our project to provide renovation support to elementary and junior high schools in Baghdad.
On January 11th, Baghdad saw it’s first snowfall in over ten years. To those who have never seen snow, it seemed to rouse a renewed hope for a brighter future. Since last fall, Iraq has been seeing slow improvements in the security situation. More positively though, last December there was a law passed approving the return of former Ba’th party members back into public office. With this, the country took their very first steps towards national reconciliation.
We hope that 2008 will bring fortune and happiness to the People of Iraq. This year, we are hoping for your continued unconditional support for the children of Iraq.
January 17, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
Rain brings a look of delight to the faces of the Jordanian people after a long period of drought.
After the rain came and went for a few days, I was delighted to spot a small bud of green arising from the red dirt in the outskirts of Amman. In Jordan, although it is difficult to see any green outside of the spring season, it is possible to spot some Bougainvilleaes flowers from time to time.
This flower reminds me of a scene from my favorite television show that is set on a beautiful wharf covered in Bougainvilleaes.
I was surprised to find out that my special flower is called ‘The Disorderly Flower’ here in Jordan. Upon asking my friend where the Bougainvilleaes got such a name, my friend suggested that perhaps it is because the stems of the Bougainvilleaes grow in such random, disorderly directions. It is true; the stems of the Bougainvilleaes at our office grow in different directions. Then, from these disorderly branches, an orange flower will suddenly bloom from the light pink stems. Thinking about this, I understood the Jordanian interpretation of the Bougainvilleaes.
I was shocked when a local staff member later told me what the Bougainvilleae were called in Iraq – ‘The Hell Flower’. This negative name is puzzling to me, because contrary to the names they have been given, Bougainvilleaes seem to be appreciated in both countries!
January 10, 2008 in Iraq | Permalink
The Islamic Spirit in the Festival of Sacrifice
In Jordan, the five consecutive days following December 18th are holidays celebrating the Festival of Sacrifice.
For the Festival of Sacrifice, each Muslim family is expected to offer one sheep, cow or camel as a sacrifice if it is economically feasible for the family to do so. This custom has its roots in a historical story. In this story, the Prophet Ibrahim offered his son to Allah, as a sacrifice yet Allah understanding the strength of his religious devotion, told him he should sacrifice a lamb instead.
Sheep are the main choice of sacrifice in Iraq and Jordan. According to the laws of Islam, the family should keep one third of the sacrifice, give another third of it to their relatives, and give the last third to their poor neighbors. Billboards advertising sheep could be seen all over Amman before the Festival of Sacrifice. An organization, Um Ali, collects donations from these billboards in order to provide meals to the poor. Um Ali derives its name from Prince Ali’s mother, the late princess Alia, wife of the former King Hussein. It is clear that Islam places a strong emphasis on making contributions to the poor.
December 20, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
A Gesture of Respect
While I was clearing away some photos of students taken in front of an old school that had yet to be rebuilt, I felt a little uncomfortable at seeing the children with their arms crossed in some of the pictures.
In Japan, crossing our arms in front of people of seniority such as teachers is considered rude. Upon asking a local staff members about this, I was told that especially in elementary school, students cross their arms in order to express respect for their teachers. I felt much better understanding that rather than a gesture of defiance, this was a gesture of respect shown by children towards their teachers. On the other hand, it seems that it is unusual to cross arms to those of similar age groups.
There have been reports on the improvements of the security situation in Iraq since November; however political turmoil is not over yet. It is too early to tell whether such positive trends will continue.
Every time I see pictures of these children, I hope for the day when they smile from the bottom of their hearts.
December 6, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
Heated Election Campaign
The Jordanian government declared Tuesday, November 20th a holiday due to the parliamentary election.
The government is making a strong appeal to the nation for votes. Prior to the election, there were many posters of various sizes and different designs with pictures of the candidates could be seen along the streets of the town. In addition many cars decorated their windows with posters of those they are supporting.
The Election Campaign Office interested us more than the posters. The special pavilions suddenly appeared in any empty spaces. They are same kind of pavilions as those used for wedding or funeral ceremonies. We can get a sense of the national character of Jordan through these pavilions even though the styles of the pavilion vary among the candidates. During the campaign, some candidates are said to rent many in order to gather their supporters for speeches about Jordan’s future outside and under the blue sky.
November 12, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
Fixing pieces and getting ready
Contaminated foods and water hit the summer in Iraq by Cholera. It is only recently that the government announced that the situation is getting better after the summer.
Please see the photo taken at the washing-space of the girl’s elementary school in the slum area of the Baghdad we repaired.
There was no water and swage system prior to our repairs and the washing-space without the water was used as storage. We also needed to repair electronic facilities to be able to use electronic devices.
We made it clean and pink tiled washing-space for girls as well as for the bathrooms. They can also enjoy the lights and fans.
JEN is repairing the school infrastructures as described above for both elementary schools and junior high schools in Baghdad.
November 8, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
When you use a PC in an Arabic country
It is well known that the Arabic language is written from right to left. Are you interested to know how it is handled when you type Arabic into a PC? This photo is from the computer screen of our local staff. It reads “Hello to the supporters of JEN’s activities!” in Arabic. The PC needs to be set up so that the cursor moves from the right to left by clicking an icon, what is also interesting is that the numbers go from right to left as in Japanese while the words go vice versa. When numbers are typed in, the order changes automatically as shown in the photo so that it shows “2007”. You can select either Indian numbers or Arabic numbers.
You have to handle two different keyboards when you make English materials, since the Arabic keyboard is specially designed and cannot type in Roman Characters. To write in Roman Characters, you have to switch it the other way around.
October 25, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
The end of Ramadan, the fasting month of Islamic calendar that started on September 13th, is approaching. In Amman, houses are alive with electrical spectaculars of Islamic symbols such as the moon and stars in preparation for Ramadan.
In Jordan during this period, “devout” Muslim abstain from food between 5.00 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. I imagine it would be much harder to tolerate thirst rather than hunger because they cannot drink anything either.
Because the period of Ramadan is becoming earlier year-by-year based on the western calendar, fasting may take place in the heat of the summer hereafter. It is difficult for me to image working while fasting in Baghdad, where it exceeds 50 degrees in the hottest part of summer.
After sunset, the family comes together for a meal called ‘Iftar’ to break the fast. They frequently have this dinner with their friends.
They read the Koran, give to the poor, and promote bonding among family members. Ramadan is a special month for devout Muslims, while other less-devout Muslims can be seen sneaking a snack during the day.
October 11, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
Cactus for Food
During summer season, I can see a fruit in the vegetable shops in Jordan. This fruit is unusual looking as can be seen in the photo. This is a “Cactus-Pear” which is a type of prickly pear. When I pick it up, I felt a pricking sensation, giving me small splinters in my finger.
I have seen a man on the street wearing tough gloves, cleaning and peeling the “Cactus-Pear”. Now I can understand that this is a necessary service for customers. In supermarkets, the “Cactus-Pear” is seen on the shelves both peeled and packaged.
The “Cactus-Pear” has many seeds inside. Maybe I can say it tastes like a sweet watermelon. The pain in my fingers lasted for a while. However, it was interesting to find a new food.
September 6, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
Horns of Joy
The last Saturday of July in Anman was full of cheerful high school students leaning out of car windows.
The frenetic sound of horns announced that it was the last day of school exams, and that the grades had been released also.
The final exam scores not only serve as proof of the student's graduation, but they are also decisive for entering university.
Jordanians usually celebrate by ringing their car horn.In the beginning of July、the well known ruins of Petra were chosen as one of the "New Seven wonders of the world". The decision was announced at one o'clock in the morning, but the celebrating horns sounded until well past two a.m. and there was no sign of them stopping anytime soon.The same thing happens when Jordan's soccer team wins a match.
Last month the Asian cup was won by Iraq. Their team's winning brought the country a lot of happiness during difficult times.
However, 50 people who were celebrating the great result unfortunately fell victim to a suicide bombing attack, and others were killed by stray bullets from guns fired in celebration.
In Jordan, the once popular firing of guns in celebration seems to have been abolished by law.
I wish Iraq would also discontinue this tradition to prevent incidents occurring just when people are celebrating happy moments.
August 9, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
Water Supply System
In Iraq, it is possible to gain sufficient water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. However, gaining water from these rivers has become extremely difficult due to the inability to conduct maintenance on the systems because of financial difficulties caused by the economic sanctions, and also as a result of the bombardment of the facilities during the war.
In its school reconstruction operations, JEN pays special attention to the construction of water supply facilities. This is because many of the schools that JEN reconstructs have water supply facilities that are completely unusable. Previously, these kinds of schools used to pump water with a hose from nearby neighborhoods. Some schools did not even have tap outlets for hand washing, and we also had pictures of other schools, prior to their reconstruction, where sanitary conditions were terrible.
Along with restoring the drainage systems through the replacement of the sewage pipes, JEN is also constructing water supply facilities such as water tanks to ensure that children and teachers are still able to access water despite disruptions to the water supply.
June 7, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
Home sweet home... but...
It is three years since Badwan, a Jordanian staff member, started working at JEN’s office in Amman. As he had previously worked as concierge at a high-class hotel, he is very considerate of and communicates well with people. As well as this, you can often see his sentimental side. For instance, when we reminisced about the international staff that used to work together in the office, he was moved to tears. In both of these ways, he is valuable for JEN.
He has a good wife who likes cooking and they have six children meaning he leads a full and happy daily life. However, when he talks about his home, Palestine, which he strongly longs to return to, his face is clouded. It will be a long time before this dream comes true.
Badwan says that he is happy to work as one of the members of JEN to support people, who are in vulnerable situations. In our small office in Amman, we work hard to try and contribute to developing the conditions of education in Iraq, with the co-operation of field staff like Badwan.
May 25, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
How children play.
Let’s have a look at how children play while they are at school.
Boys are big fans of playing soccer. There are lots of soccer fans in Iraq, and the Japanese animation “Captain Tsubasa” is a big hit. The story’s hero is Tsubasa, whose name translates into Majid in Arabic.
What girls enjoy the most is skipping. Playing tag and hide-and-seek are really enjoyed by both boys and girls.
There are other fun games that seem popular, such as “stand and sit” which is played in the classroom among all students. Similar to the Japanese “hata-age” (raising the banner) game - raise red, raise white, don’t raise white! - the teacher calls out “stand, sit, or don’t sit!” and doing the actions determines the winner.
We asked our field staff members about how Iraqi children play, and they feel that the children spend all their free time just as Japanese children do.
Safety inside schools is barely maintained, but with the security situation worsening and upsetting the children, this might be the only place where they can enjoy themselves.
May 24, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
Spring has come in Jordan. Families enjoy sunny weekends picnicking in the green spaces found here and there. Although it is only a short spring, just a few months, during this season fresh flowers and grass fills Jordan’s fields and makes people happy. Strangely, people picnic, not only in the green hills of the suburbs, but also on land alongside busy highways, wherever they can find grass growing!
People say that Iraqi people also used to picnic in this way before the war. Families, relatives and friends enjoyed peaceful weekends in the green suburbs of Baghdad. While military operations continue to intensify in Baghdad, zoos and amusement parks are supposed to be reopening in the city. However, many people are still in fear of their lives and do not like to leave their homes.
Playing in the sun, children are full of cheerful smiles in Jordan. We hope that one day, Iraqi children will also be able to play on a sunny day without any fear, as children do in Jordan.
April 12, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
Women in Jordan
In Jordan, a Japanese female is always mistaken for a Philippine at every corner around the town. So is at JEN’s office in Amman, agents come to mistake a Japanese program officer for a Philippine servant. One day an agent spoke to her at the door:
“I want to see your father or mother”.
Sounds as if he came across a little girl, but he simply meant in broken English: “call your Master or Madam”.
That happens because many female servants immigrate to Jordan from Philippine, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.
A woman from Sri Lanka has been working in Jordan for ten years. She migrated after having worked for several years in a factory right after completing secondary school. She got through her initial struggle to keep up with housework and Arabic language. Now she speaks Arabic and English fluently. She still studies English eagerly every day and night. Meanwhile, she never forgets to send remittance to her family in Sri Lanka.
Working in Jordan seems to make her stronger despite any difficulties.
March 15, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
What is a big difference between a Japanese passport and an Iraqi one? Scarcely any countries reject the Japanese one today for an entry or a visa permit. How about the Iraqi one, how many States would welcome it on the border?
A mass exodus of refugees provoked from and within Iraq has already reached 50,000 per month. An influx to contiguous Jordan and Syria climbed to the amount of 500 thousands to one million. However, both asylum countries have been tightening the regulation of the Iraqi nationals on the border and on the issue of visas and residential permits.
Still, a large number of Iraqi refugees remain in the two neighbouring countries after the expiry of their permits and hide themselves illegally.
They are unable to receive any social services such as education. Jordan, overloaded with the increase of refugees, has been appealing to the international society to share the burden.
March 1, 2007 in Iraq | Permalink
A Special Day
Local staff is making a sneeze.
“Bless you! Have you got a cold?”
“Thanks, but I must not catch a cold – at least today!”
“Something special today then?”
“Eh well… my wedding anniversary,” he replied with a shy smile.
“A husband forgets such anniversaries while his wife is looking forward to – that always happens not only in a soap opera – still you are a perfect mate, lucky your wife!” “Oh no, my PC helps. Important anniversaries pop up automatically on my desktop a week before each – our wedding, our first date, and our engagement… quite a good number to input.”
Love grows after marriage – an Arabic saying that he strongly believes in. He married one of his relatives. Without having asked her out before, he directly asked her father for a permit to propose to her.
He has been happy at home for ten years with his wife, her handmade cooking and their children. Here is a sweet wedding, love, and happiness in Arabic style!
December 28, 2006 in Iraq | Permalink
We are repairing three primary schools and one junior high school in Baghdad. After the repayment has finished, schools become amazingly beautiful as if it was reborn, bathroom especially.
In Iraq, water line and sewage treatment equipment has been destructed and some schools do not have bathrooms available. Muslim has a passion for cleanliness; they have to pray with their body clean. It must be hard for them to co-op with dirty bathrooms.
One of the schools JEN had recovered, bathrooms for teachers had been destructed because of war, therefore teachers had to go to the neighbours to use bathroom and felt inconvenient. Some girls were reluctant to go to school because of dirty bathrooms. When JEN recover these bathrooms, we use tile that easy to clean up.
Our desire is make children can concentrate on study without quibbling.
December 7, 2006 in Iraq | Permalink
Cooperation without Boundaries
Here is a letter from Jordan, signed Nami Uesugi, a Japanese staff appointed to JEN’s Office in Amman in May:
“It is a great pleasure for me to interact with people from different background from my own. Still, as it is the first time for me to get involved closely in a Muslim society, I had a slight fear before coming to Amman if I could make it in such a new working environment. However, my fear disappeared as soon as my arrival thanks to kind help of local staff in Iraq and in Jordan. I would like to write about one of them, a program assistant in Baghdad. She is such an attractive Venus - it is a pity that I am unable to show her fantastic picture for her security, as unfortunately in Iraq international workers like her have been targeted by militia groups. When I timidly called her for a work on a holiday, she willingly came to office adding that she even enjoyed a different face of the city from clouded weekdays. I was impressed by her kindness and passion for work which, despite very difficult situation in Iraq, made me believe again that people could work together without any boundaries.”
September 14, 2006 in Iraq | Permalink
The biggest problem in Baghdad today, is electricity.
Electricity often goes off for long spans of time during the hot of the day; just as you think it has been on for 2 hours, it is followed by a sudden 4 hour blackout. Many houses have generators of their own, and those who don't rent them from others, usually paying them worth 7 hours of electricity per day.
The current temperatures in Baghdad hover around 45 degrees, but in August, the hottest month of the year, they hit as high as 60. Needless to say, an air conditioner-or fan at the very least-is absolutely necessary to get by. Most households within Baghdad have one or the other of the two, but during blackouts they have no choice but to rely on generators.
The sweltering summer is approaching, yet again.
August 24, 2006 in Iraq | Permalink
Living Side by Side with Death
Terrorist attacks are all the talk in Baghdad.
Whenever or wherever you may be, including your own house, death is always lurking around the corner. If a family member is just a few minutes late in coming back, you cannot but help call them on their cell phones to make sure of their safety.
Not only adults but many children as well own cell phones, so that should something happen, they can contact their family immediately.
Although there still are children who go to school on foot, there are others who go by car, or have monthly contracts with shared taxis. Schools are basically open throughout the school term, however, parents decide daily whether they should send their children to school or not based on daily security reports. Teachers understand and respect this circumstance.
The marketplace, a place where many people gather, is a typical target for bombings. Therefore, locals avoid the market as much as possible, and instead try to get their shopping done at nearby grocery stores.
Even when living side by side with many such dangers, people go shopping, children go to school...Peoples' lives go on.
July 20, 2006 in Iraq | Permalink
A security training program, organized by the IOM-IRAQ (International Organization for Migration Iraq Mission), was held at Amman. The program was constituted of 2 parts; during the first 2 days, participants were intensively taught about wireless radios and mines, as well as how to behave when one is kidnapped, and the latter 2 days involved practical training setting an ambush in the desert, or being taken under confinement, as the assumed scenarios.
During the training, explosives were set up by the road, and the trainees’ cars were “attacked” with colored bullets, as well as threatened by armed staff at a fake checkpoint. Even though participants knew it was only training, long sessions under strained conditions proved stressful.
Obviously, it does not mean that one’s safety is assured by simply undergoing such training. It is possible, however, to decrease the risk of oneself or one’s colleague from being exposed to danger, from learning the ways to react in the case of an emergency. Through such programs, we hope to always be prepared for work in unstable areas.
May 30, 2006 in Iraq | Permalink