Sulaimani, Iraq - Jun. 16, 2011 - The first annual Volunteerism Week at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani ended today after three successful events encouraging AUIS students, staff and faculty to become more involved in the Sulaimani community and celebrating the service of the dozen returned Peace Corps volunteers who now work at AUIS. The week kicked off on Tuesday with Hoops for Hearts, a charity basketball game, followed by a clean-up of the Qelyasan River with local NGO Nature Iraq, and ending with an Hoops for HeartsInternational Food Cook-Off. Hoops for Hearts and the International Food Cook-Off were both fundraising events, which raised 1,160,000 ID, or around $1,000 USD, for the International Children’s Heart Foundation to perform a life-saving surgery in Sulaimani.
“Usually when I play basketball, I play for myself and I forget about everything,” said Beyan Salah Tahir, and International Studies major from Erbil and a member of the AUIS women’s basketball team. “But during Hoops for Hearts, we were playing for something more important than ourselves. Throughout the game, I kept remembering the children we were raising money for and they inspired me to play my heart out.”
“It was a really great privilege to be a part of this experience,” said Hussein Aladdin, an Information Systems and Technology major from Baghdad whose biriyani took second place in Cook Offthe Cook-Off. “It fed my soul, and made me think how great it is when people cooperate with each other to change someone’ life. I am really surprised about the generosity that people showed.”
The funds raised by AUIS for the International Children’s Heart Foundation will help pay for a life-saving heart surgery for a local child to be performed this fall. The ICHF is an international NGO that provides heart surgeries to children around the world without access to proper medical care. The ICHF has performed twelve surgeries in Sulaimani in the past.
River Clean upAUIS also partnered with Nature Iraq for the Qelyasan River Pick-Up. Nature Iraq is an NGO that works to preserve Iraq’s natural resources. About a dozen students, staff and faculty teamed up with four representatives from Nature Iraq to clean up a section of the Qelyasan River that is being polluted by trash and those using the river to wash their vehicles. Over the course of an hour, volunteers hauled away two truck-loads of garbage.
"It was an interesting and useful experience," said Miriam Waleed, one of the students who took part in the river clean-up. "I always enjoy teamwork, and it is important to dedicate our time to preserving our environment for future generations."
AUIS currently employs eleven former Peace Corps volunteers who served for two years in communities around the world. Peace Corps is a U.S. government organization that promotes volunteerism. For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Web site at www.peacecorps.gov.