John Paul II Foundation / Magazine / Milad and Mustafa: young Christians and Muslims together for a new Iraq

Milad and Mustafa: young Christians and Muslims together for a new Iraq

Milad is a 20-year-old musician of the Christian faith who dreams of becoming a professional singer; he is attending one of the few music schools in Baghdad in Iraq.

He was born in the capital, but the family originated from a small village located halfway between Baghdad and Erbil.

He lives with his family and has 3 brothers and 1 sister. Mustafa, on the other hand, is a 20-year-old of the Islamic faith who lives with his mother in Baghdad, while his only brother lives with his family. He dropped out of secondary school rather early to go to work in a store repairing phones to help his mother survive during the financial crisis that has gripped the country for some time now. However, after a few years, he strongly wanted to return to the desks because he, one day, sees himself in the world of marketing and so, after finishing high school, he dreams of being admitted to the university of economics and marketing in Baghdad.

Both Milad and Mustafa were already familiar with Caritas Iraq and the excellent reputation it has in trying to help people in need, including young people who are unemployed or in need, and they were among the first to respond positively to the demand from Caritas volunteers to participate in the vocational courses. However, at first they did not really know what to expect from the course, did not want to get their hopes up too high, and were not sure if the training could give them that extra something they really needed. However, after the first two classes, they quickly realized that this course could really mean a lot to them, because "in Iraq right now, especially if you're a young person like us, you have to be multitasking if you want to survive, you always have to improve and expand your knowledge if you want to be successful, so this course will definitely make life easier for us!" they both say. Moreover, they do not hide the fact that having the chance to be chosen among the 2 participants who will receive tools and materials at the end of the course is no small incentive, especially for two determined young people like them.

Milad knew almost nothing about carpentry, but throughout the course he was one of those who put in the most effort and participation. Although his main goal in life is to become a professional singer, he knows full well that he will encounter many difficulties on this path, so having an initial source of income would help him a lot. "Thanks to what I have learned in the training I will be able, for example, to make wooden objects for the house without where to spend a fortune in the store," Milad says. Finally, he strongly thinks that along with his singing career, opening his own small store to sell his items would mean additional income that would surely benefit his family.

Mustafa, on the other hand, already knew the basics of carpentry because some of his cousins are carpenters and sometimes he helps them, but, he says, "thanks to the course organized by Caritas Iraq and the John Paul II Foundation, I have acquired many new skills in the field that I will be able to show and teach to my cousins who will benefit from my experience," he says proudly.

At the end of the talk, when we move on to discuss the future of Iraq and the youth, Milad becomes sad. He still sees too many obstacles to overcome, such as rampant corruption or the continuing brutal killings of young activists. He says, "Politicians don't give us much hope, while this course has given us more than successive governments over the past 20 years!"

Mustafa, on the other hand, is more positive; he thinks that in 10 years Iraq, thanks to the new generation of which they both are a part, will be able to achieve significant results. Moreover, he sees a situation that is steadily, albeit minimally, improving from a few years ago. However, he stresses that "if we [the new generation] fail to lead this transition to a new Iraq, the old policy will not change anything, it will leave everything as it is now so acquiring new skills and knowledge is vital for us young people!"

Finally, both emphasize how "peaceful coexistence between cultures, religions, ethnicities, minorities is decisive to hope for a better future, because sectarianism in Iraq has already done much, too much damage and we are really fed up with it! But we are not stopping, we will keep fighting to try to improve our and this country's future."

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