IRAQ: Iraqi and U.S. teenagers-can you help facilitate their dialogue?

CPTnet
18 June 2008
IRAQ: Iraqi and U.S. teenagers-can you help facilitate their dialogue?

In its work in Iraq, in both the south and the north, CPT often receives requests from friends in the United States who want to contribute directly to the efforts of Iraqis working for peace, and for ways to connect with Iraqis as individuals. CPT Iraq is happy to tell you of one such opportunity, which requires time, effort and some resources. CPT believes it provides a unique opportunity to engage in direct peacemaking and bridge-building without participants having to leave the United States.

Darstan Group for Children Media is an independent Iraqi non-governmental organization that focuses on peacemaking and bridge-building among the young people of Iraq. The Iraq team knows and has gained increasing respect for Darstan's executive director, Ayoub Muhammad Abdullah. Ayoub and the Darstan Group's project seeks to connect Iraqi young people with young people from the United States, through media projects, including video/film-making, creation of magazines, and the exchange of e-mails.

Ayoub has received a preliminary favorable response from USAID to fund the Iraqi side of the project. But USAID funds cannot be used for the expenses to be incurred in the United States.

If you are

· connected with a group of young people (early to mid-adolescents) in your church, school, or elsewhere, and are interested in receiving direct communications from Iraqi youth (translated into English), and then challenging your young folks to respond to them;

· if you wish to communicate personally with young people in Iraq;

· if your church or organization has the ability to provide resources for the United States side of this commitment

then, this challenge is for you.

Darstan hopes that that those participating would receive the magazines and DVDs with stories and hopes written by Iraqi teens, distribute them to interested U.S. teens, and then support the U.S. teens to respond in kind. Darstan would then translate and distribute the U.S. teens' responses and materials within Iraq.

A word of caution: Iraqis have had too many commitments made to them and broken. This project is a chance for young people divided by so many factors to engage directly with each other. But if no follow-through occurs, if the children of Iraq send their stories and the only response they get is silence, it would be better for them never to have begun.

If you are interested in learning more, please reply to cptiraq@cpt.org.