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July 1, 2024

Exploring careers and creativity: Ranya’s vibrant youth festival

A recent youth festival in Ranya, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, brought joy and a spirit of possibility to the city. Organised by NoC2 campaigners, the festival was a vibrant celebration of young people’s talents and a platform to promote the “Maro…Chaki Ka” campaign, which encourages youth to stay away from illegal migration and pursue fulfilling vocational careers. Over 2,000 enthusiastic participants explored diverse vocational opportunities through interactive booths, workshops, and cultural performances.

Since 2012, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) has generously hosted over 260,000 refugees fleeing conflict and violence in Syria. Over the years, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has collaborated with humanitarian partners to implement policies aimed at fostering self-reliance among this displaced community.

Despite these advancements, challenges persist. Nearly twelve years after their displacement, Syrian refugees across the Middle East continue to face an uncertain future. In Iraq, significant efforts have been made to support and integrate Syrians in the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad.

SPARK has been supporting refugees and host communities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) by providing education, livelihood assistance, employment pathways, and entrepreneurial empowerment. Alongside its programmes, SPARK has worked with local authorities and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop and advocate for policies that address specific needs and rights through the Networks of Change programme.

 

©SPARK 2024
©SPARK 2024
©SPARK 2024

The Networks of Change programme (NoC) builds trust and resilience of youth in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. NoC focuses on youth in the regions of Ranya, Halabja, and Chamchamal and the people surrounding them: teachers, social workers and parents. In these regions, secondary schools and universities work together to strengthen the present youth centers in order to empower and engage local young people and their communities.

On June 6, 2024, in collaboration with local organisation, the Civil Development Organisation (CDO)  hosted a vibrant youth festival at Darwaza Park in Ranya, Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The event brought joy and connectivity to the city, drawing over 2,000 participants, including local government officials, artists, professionals, and notably, young residents of Ranya.

The festival buzzed with activity as attendees explored 26 booths showcasing a diverse range of vocational opportunities. Talented local women and youth entrepreneurs displayed their handcrafted items and accessories, while skilled tailors demonstrated their craft. Bakers tempted festival-goers with delicious homemade creations, and local businesses and coffee shops offered their products, keeping everyone fueled with food and drinks. Beyond the booths, the atmosphere pulsed with life. Performances filled the air, an arts and crafts fair showcased local talent, and traditional music and dance added a touch of cultural celebration. 

©SPARK 2024
©SPARK 2024
©SPARK 2024
©SPARK 2024

“Maro…Chaki Ka” – “Don’t leave…Fix it”

“What truly made the festival unforgettable was witnessing the joy and happiness of the young people who had travelled afar to join us. For us, that was an immense success,” Nvar Noori, a Networks of Change campaigner

This festival is part of a series of events within the program that celebrates youth campaigns supported over the past year. The first public awareness campaign led by youth in the NoC2 program, titled “Maro…Chaki Ka” (translated as “Don’t leave…Fix it”), encourages young people to choose vocational careers over illegal migration for economic stability. Beyond mere slogans, the campaign actively engages the community, exemplified by initiatives like the recent youth festival. 

“Organising this youth festival was a great opportunity for us as campaigners for Networks of Change. It provided a platform for young professionals to showcase their work and highlighted our collective achievements. The event buzzed with activities, connecting youth and business owners for mutual learning. We’re grateful for everyone’s enthusiasm and look forward to more events like this in the future.” Raman Hama, a campaigner with the NoC2 programme.

SPARK remains steadfast in its mission to empower young people and promote community unity with innovative programs such as NoC2. These initiatives demonstrate an ongoing commitment to enhancing economic resilience and establishing sustainable opportunities for youth throughout the KRI. To mark its impact, the NoC2 campaign will conclude with a final event in Chamchamal on July 3, 2024. 

Join us in celebrating and witnessing the program’s accomplishments through campaign videos and inspiring stories from campaigners. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn, celebrate, and contribute to making a meaningful impact!

©SPARK 2024
©SPARK 2024
©SPARK 2024
©SPARK 2024
©SPARK 2024

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