Saturday, 28 January 2012, 08:23 GMT
My Kurdistan

By Sazan M. Mandalawi

The Kurdish Globe
By Sazan M. Mandalawi

"Kurds abroad are like DIY manuals for Kurdistan"

Times have changed, and so have I. Before, I would go to any beautiful capital city in the world and wish we had those malls and coffee shops.

Now, every time I swipe my card, entering the castle-like libraries in the U.K., I picture myself doing the exact same but back in Kurdistan. I would go four floors up, and the entire way I look around and imagine.

I imagine a fast Internet connection, millions of new books, self-service loans, seating areas of all sorts, quiet study rooms, and the list is never ending. Everything I see, I like to imagine it back home. In my head, I brainstorm possible locations where this can be built, and I can even picture the students inside.

The weather is lousy, the clouds are frowning, yet there is a great sensation within me, looking out from the library's fourth floor. I should be writing a final paper. Instead, I stare outside and imagine how I wish to see my Kurdistan.

Kurdistan does not have to look like Dubai, Paris or New York to be great. Right now, I honestly would not care if McDonald's was being opened back home or if we had stores that sold "real" Chanel handbags. Yet I know in a globalized, capitalist world, McDonald's and Chanel go a long way, but there are other things that I wish to see in my Kurdistan.

I want to see young people staying late into the night doing research in fancy libraries with access to all the information and materials they may need.

I want to see hospitals where even the unfortunate can go to get world-class health care services. I no longer want to see clinics in Erbil's doctor's roads, most of which provide poor services to their patients.

I want to see an education system where, for once in our lifetime, the son of a wealthy man and the daughter of an unfortunate family can go to school and be educated in the same way; having equal access to all possible educational opportunities. I have seen this happen in Kurdistan, but still, the road is long. It is the people who can strive towards this, the teachers, the doctors, the young volunteers, and the employers who work in government institutions and ministries.

I want my Kurdistan to embrace those who are returning from abroad. Just as there are laws that make it easy to foreign businessmen to invest in Kurdistan there needs to be similar initiatives for Kurds abroad to encourage and welcome their return home without a second thought. Kurds who can return from abroad are like DIY manuals for Kurdistan, returning with their hammers and nails.

At the end of the day, there is something much bigger than us. It is Kurdistan. I have come to believe we, the people of this nation, are the ones who can build it. We need to grow out of blaming everything on the government and start holding ourselves responsible. If our children are educated in the correct way, we are changing an entire generation. If every person did their job well, then the system would run smoothly. If every person's fear was for their greater society (not just themselves), and if every person's aim was to help and contribute to their community, then we can build the Kurdistan of our dreams and build it in such a way that it will withstand all external pressures. It would not fall.

Above and beyond all, Kurdistan still needs emotional attachment from its people. It still needs citizens who are in love with their nation, who work hard for its prosperity and who feel responsible to their land.

Kurdistan can only be as strong and great as the people building it.