Categories
Uncategorized

Floating Toxins in Baghdad

Written by Safa Al-Helli

With the rise of global warming and the increase of greenhouse gases, destructive effects showing their symptoms in both the environment and human health. Iraq is a nation that has suffered extreme pollution with staggering numbers that only rise. Pollution in the atmosphere results from many contributions. The country has faced extreme exposure to deadly gases and chemicals resulting from wars and weak infrastructure. Lead contamination in Baghdad has entered waterways impacting water quality within the city, as a result of
human activity. The health and quality of water is an essential factor as it impacts all areas of the city. In Northern Baghdad, the Diyala river was tested for heavy metal pollution and is considered the most contaminated. The main cause for heavy metal contamination in Iraq is due to the production of oil as well as other industries. In the past decade, there has been an increase in the usage of vehicles that are powered by gasoline which contains traces of lead.
Studies show that about 200 tons of lead are being released each year into the atmosphere. For further investigation, an experiment was done in order to find an accurate amount of lead emissions. Both lead inspiration and discharge into the environment were measured by
studying palm trees. Palm trees are highly exposed to lead as it is absorbed by both the soil and the leaves from the air pollution. Lead contamination was done in the course of two years, which concluded the hypothesized increase. Additionally, other pollutants such as greenhouse gases are found in high numbers in air quality. This demonstrates the impact of air pollution on human health specifically regarding respiratory organs. Cars and vehicles hold the most responsibility for greenhouse gases emissions. Due to its richness in oil, Iraq holds many productions for extracting oil and relies on heavy usage of cars/vehicles. In addition to that, electricity does not hold a 24/7 availability in Iraq. Instead many people rely on power generators that emit mass amounts of contaminant gases. Since 2008, scientists
have been observing the air quality in Baghdad. It was concluded that the air housed many harmful microscopic elements such as mercury, arsenic, lead, silica, etc. Although these elements are invisible to the naked eye, it can cause severe damage to one’s respiratory
system which will then cause visible damage . According to a UN report, transportation in Iraq is responsible for 40% of gas emissions, it is expected to increase to 60%. The heavy and reliable usage on transportation systems is causing nothing but damage to both the environment and the health of the population. The release of these elements toxifies the air and the soil, affecting other aspects of the environment such as water banks and rivers. Frequent and heavy exposure to these toxins has been proven to lead to potentially fatal
diseases, including many types of cancers and low blood hemoglobin. If no action is taken to lower gas emissions, Iraq may experience a lower birth rate and higher death rate. In addition to that, individuals who come with frequent contact with lead are shown to have stored
amounts of the substance in their bone (lead triphosphate) which can damage the bones, brain and cause severe anemia. Furthermore, environmental health will also be severely impacted. The planet is already facing a major global warming crisis, and greenhouse gases are the main cause. Unfortunately, the lack of resources and infrastructure has delayed the development of the country to spend and improve its resources and services. All in all, simple measures are recommended (such as implementing laws or creating programs) to be taken to
better the wellbeing of citizens and their external environment.

Works Cited

Al-Hussaini, S., Al-Obaidy, A., & Al-Mashhady, A. (2018). Environmental assessment of heavy metal pollution of Diyala River within Baghdad City. Applied Water Science, 8(3), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13201-018-0707-9

Aenab, A., Singh, S., & Lafta, A. (2013). Critical assessment of air pollution by ANOVA test and human health effects. Atmospheric Environment, 71, 84–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2013.01.039

Hana, A., & Al-Bassam, K. (1983). A survey of lead pollution in Baghdad. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 19(1), 3–14. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00176791

Chaichan, M., Kazem, H., & Abed, T. (2018). Traffic and outdoor air pollution levels near highways in Baghdad, Iraq. Environment, Development and Sustainability,20(2), 589–603. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-016-9900-

Categories
Poetry

The Journey

Written by Batool Fatima

On your journey home
Don’t forget to breathe
And when you’re on your own
Don’t forget to see
Remember to slow down
Look at the grass blades too
Look how the flowers dance
Remember how the dandelions flew
On your journey home
Don’t forget the rivers
The ones that were smooth
The ones that brought shivers
The journey to comfort
Is a long one I feel
But every step you take
don’t forget to steal
How the leaves changed colors
How the marigolds bloomed
How the rains took over
Soon after no signs of monsoons
This voyage may also be a tiring one my friend
But witness you will
the fantastical in the end
So pick up all that you can
And feel to your most
For the drama lies in the travel
The end is just a host

Categories
Poetry

A Cure for Your Remedies

Written by Batool Fatima

Your grief sways you
A little towards the ground
Another burden perhaps,
Leaves you less safe and sound
A violent thrust hauls you down
And now you’re in distress
On your knees and lonesome
No way out of this mess
The fear creeps up your ears and into your brain
Your head is dense with commotion
Silent cries but in vain
Your thoughts begin the search of one last elope
The clouds part, the sun arrives
Bringing one last hope
Your Lord calls and says, come to prayer and come to success
The knots begin to untangle
Is this your way out of the mess?
In search of answers you bow down to your Lord
First on your feet, then your knees
Head down for reward
Did He not promise, with hardship, ease?
Did He not say with prayer, problems will cease?
So take one step towards Him
He will take ten towards you
If only you’d walk towards Him
You’ll find Him running too.

Categories
Latest News

The Winter Initiative

Written by Zainab Sadiq

As the holiday season is upon us, we are all gearing up for the winter weather. Our coats are coming out of storage and our mornings once again require cleaning snow off cars. While going through these changes, we also have the security and comfort that a warm home provides, heating for these cold winter nights, and a safe place to rest our heads. With this in mind, Al-Ayn Canada has chosen its next campaign to focus on rebuilding the homes of orphans and their families who aren’t as lucky as we are.
 
Al-Ayn focuses on creating lasting change to the lives of orphans, and their #RebuildingHomes campaign is no different. By focusing on raising funds for individual homes, Al-Ayn enough money to carry out repairs to 496 homes and these projects are currently underway. Being able to contribute to the safety and security of an orphan is crucial in building sustainable futures for these kids and their families. By ensuring that these basic, fundamental needs are taken care of, these children can focus on growing academically, emotionally, and spiritually.
 
Working towards sustainable change in these kids’ lives requires a methodical process that takes into account the needs of the orphans. Having started as a grassroots organization, being on the ground in Iraq, and the insight that that provides, allows the Al-Ayn team to assess the unique needs of the orphans and the best way in which to help them. Having an international presence today, the organization is able to raise funds and complete projects on a need’s bases.
 
While continuing to stay indoors and stay safe, throughout these many lockdowns we have all come to rely on the security and functionality of our homes. Throughout these cold winter months, we urge you to give whatever you can to Al-Ayn’s #RebuildingHomes project. They are currently raising funds for the Al-Badri Home and Abdel Gharib Home with targets of $5,550 and $9,900 respectively. In this season of giving, these campaigns are an incredible way to see the impact you can have on the life of an orphan. Below is the link to the campaign to donate to either rebuilding project.
 
http://alayn.ca/product-category/winter-campaign/

Categories
Poetry

A Warm Winter

Written by Sahara Mehdi

As the weather gets colder,
Every advertisement playing is 
About families coming together
About seasons of joy and warmth

It is is this uncertainty
This limbo of what is safe and not
That a lot of families are realizing
They will be split apart

But I wonder about those who don’t
Have a family to video call
Those who are permanently keeping
A spot at the table empty

I wonder who is there to help them
Who will bring them comfort 
Or warmth this winter
And I realize that it should be us
As the weather gets colder,
Every advertisement playing is 
About families coming together
About seasons of joy and warmth

It is is this uncertainty
This limbo of what is safe and not
That a lot of families are realizing
They will be split apart

But I wonder about those who don’t
Have a family to video call
Those who are permanently keeping
A spot at the table empty

I wonder who is there to help them
Who will bring them comfort 
Or warmth this winter
And I realize that it should be us.

Categories
Poetry

Skewing Virtues

Written by Safa Al-Helli

You’ve heard it again and again
Orphans, Orphans’ day, Orphanage, Children…
Your mind paints an image of an abandoned child who roams the streets of a war torn country
That child is hungry
Has no money
Doesn’t belong to a home or family
Lives a life without hospitality
Doesn’t know who to call mommy or daddy
You may have knowledge of their reality
But but insist to align your values with your morality
Acknowledging those who are unfortunate is a virtue of its own
However, virtues must be shown rather than known
Don’t let your heart harden to stone
Let dignity show you it’s two bones
One for you and one for those who are alone
Take action today with one click on your phone.

Categories
Stories

A Memory That Remains

My name is Kawthar. I visited the shrines of the Imams with my family
one year. We walked around the market and I saw a beautiful red
hairclip. It was the most beautiful thing in the shop. I asked my mum if I
could buy it — but I already knew the answer. It was 3,500 dinars — that amount could feed our entire family for a day. The following morning, when I woke up I saw the red hairclip on my pillow. I couldn’t believe it! My dad had bought it for me and I wore it everywhere. When he passed away, I stopped wearing it I was too scared it would break, and with it, my memories of him would be crushed. I’ll wear it for you today so you can take a photo — but please be careful with it. When my father died, I was 4 years old.

Categories
Stories

A Father And Son

My name is Haider Al Karrar. My father loved dressing me up like him. In 2011, he bought us two matching suits for Eid and we had our photos taken at a studio. The following year, my dad once again bought us matching suits so we could continue our tradition. But he died before we had the chance to have our photo taken. Our unworn suits were left hanging in the cupboard.

Recently, my mother donated them to a young, less fortunate groom-to-be. It felt good to help someone else in need, just as Al-Ayn has been helping us. My father may be gone, but my memories of him are still alive — we have this photograph hanging up in our home.

Categories
Stories

The Eldest of The Family

I worry about my younger siblings. I am 17 and the eldest. Last year in the run-up to Eid, I could not sleep. It would be our first Eid without our father and I did not know how we could cope. As you know, people usually buy new clothes for Eid. I didn’t care about myself, but I did not know how I would buy new clothes for my siblings, as I was struggling to get work and I didn’t have savings.

I didn’t want them to feel different from their friends or to be pitied as orphans. We received an invitation from Al-Ayn to their office a few weeks before Eid. When we arrived, we saw rooms full of new clothes
and shoes. My siblings were so excited — they ran around and chose whatever they liked. At that moment. I couldn’t contain my tears. For the first time. I felt someone was looking out for us. It almost felt like we had our father back. It isn’t easy being the eldest.

Categories
Stories

Meet Asinat

My name is Asinat and my little sister’s name is Asan. When the conflict
began, I was 2 and she was 1. I had to flee, but the conflict spread to
the place we had escaped to, and my father was killed. His corpse was
left for days before we saw it. We couldn’t afford a funeral — we couldn’t
even afford food and I remember going 4 or 5 days without eating. 40
days after my father’s burial, we were on the move again. I have found
photographs of my father’s corpse in my mother’s wardrobe. Now I am 7
and we are settled in a safer place. I don’t go hungry anymore and my
mother has everything she needs to look after us — she says it’s because of Al-Ayn.

I want to be a policewoman, so I can ensure no one gets killed unjustly.
Sometimes I feel he is still alive. One day, I dreamt about my father — I ran
to my mother in the middle of the night and told her that he wants to see us.
It makes me sad when I see other children with their fathers.