16 Dec 2016 |

Mahmoud wants to be no 1 in his class

Eight-year old Mahmoud has a serious disability, but the Mission East mobile child centre has inspired him to go back to school.

By Kim Wiesener, Communications Officer

When Mahmoud was five years old, he started feeling the symptoms of the disease that has now tied him to a wheelchair. A couple of years later, when he was in second grade, his school sent him home. It simply was not equipped to handle a pupil suffering from muscular dystrophy.

Such are the conditions in Kirkuk in Northern Iraq where children with handicaps often miss out on a school education. At first, Mahmoud was resigned to staying at home, but then his one year younger sister told him about the Mission East mobile child centre. It caters to children whose families have had to seek refuge in Kirkuk from the terrorist movement Islamic State, but also to local children like Mahmoud.

“It sounded interesting, so I joined here there,” recalled Mahmoud, a bright and observant boy with a thirst for knowledge.

Happier and more optimistic

It turned out to be a good decision. Mahmoud’s stay at the centre gave him new inspiration and energy. His parents noticed the change in him, as he became happier and more optimistic. In fact, his mother recalls, he was sad when he came home from the centre, because he wanted to spend more time there.

“I liked being there. I learnt English, Kurdish and IT,” Mahmoud said and proudly recited his ABC in English. “Having been to the centre, I decided to go back to school.

This was easier said than done. His family did not wish to revisit Mahmoud’s first school that had expelled him, so his father, who would do anything for his children, started the search for a new school.

He succeeded in finding a school for deprived children in the family’s own neighbourhood, and a few hours after Mission East’s visit to Mahmoud’s home he would enter a new chapter in his school life. His father, a manual labourer who has had difficulties in finding steady work intends to take him to his school every afternoon.

Mad about computers

Mahmoud is looking forward to learning again. He likes reading, he would like to learn more English, and as so many other eight-year old boys, he is mad about computers. He also finds inspiration in his sister, with whom he has a warm and loving relationship, and who is doing very well at school.

Asked about his goals when returning to school, Mahmoud answered: “I want to be number one in my class – just like my sister.”