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Mira* stopped attending her school in West Mosul after ISIS took control and changed the curriculum to teach about fighting and guns. Her parents stopped sending her to school and she spent almost three years at home, helping her mother with cleaning and cooking. She witnessed horrific scenes during those years, including people being killed and hung from walls. Her father lost his job and had no income to support his family. When the Mosul offensive began they moved to her grandfather’s house which was closer to the frontline in the hope that they would soon be able to leave the city. They stayed for about two months under heavy bombardment and shelling until they managed to flee Mosul. Mira dreams of going back to school in the camp and becoming a teacher like the ones who inspired her.
Before ISIS came into the city I was still going to school. I was doing very well and I passed the first and second grade, but when they came to the city I stopped attending as they controlled all the schools. In their schools they wouldn’t teach us regular subjects like reading and singing – instead they taught fighting, how to use guns, and other things that I didn’t like.
I spent about three years not going to school. It was really boring without school because I didn’t have anything to do other than helping my mother with the housework. Every morning I woke up and helped her make breakfast, then I’d go with her or my dad to bring water from a nearby well, then go back and help her clean the house, wash clothes and cook. We didn’t have TV because there was no electricity, and I couldn’t see my friends because they lived far from our home. Instead I played with our neighbours who were older than me. I liked them but I always missed my own friends, and especially my friend Tamara*. She was my best friend in school. We used to sit at the same desk, spend playtime together and even walk back home together. They had to move to a different neighbourhood and I didn’t see her since then. I miss her a lot and I also miss my teachers - my Arabic teacher in particular. I loved her so much, and she was always so nice to me. We used to have so much fun in her class, and she would tell us very interesting stories. We sang together, read and played games in the class. I also loved mathematics class, which was very interesting and I was very good at it. The mathematics teacher loved me because I always answered her questions correctly. I really miss going to school and I hope I will be able to go to school again.
I don’t want to go back home anymore, I’m very glad we finally left. ISIS were very cruel and they treated everyone in a very bad way. They used to kill men and hang them on the walls and on the park fence. I used to see their bodies whenever I went out with my dad. I remember one man who was hanged for over four or five days. We had to leave our home about a month or two ago, and we went to my grandfather’s where there was lots of bombing and shelling, but there was a school very close by. I cried and begged them to allow me to go there but they wouldn’t - they told me it was closed but I didn’t believe them, until one day we passed by it and it was half destroyed. I felt so sad when I saw it. I felt like I will never be able to go to school again and that I will spend all my life cleaning and cooking. I want to keep going to school and study hard so I can become a teacher when I grow up. I want to be an Arabic teacher, like the one who taught me in the first grade. I love singing and reading stories and believe I will be a very good teacher and all the kids will love me just like I loved my Arabic teacher.”