Recently, while in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, I was in my room catching up on TentED stuff, emails, reports, projects and the like. I was scanning through pictures sent to me by one of our local partners, EDGE Institute, when one of them caught my eye. It was an image of a little girl writing (or perhaps drawing) on a notepad. She wore a magenta fleece and an honest smile. She looked at the camera with expressive eyes that signaled delight. I was captivated.
So I wrote Zirak, the project manager who oversaw our Pop-Up School program with EDGE.
Zirak, what is the name of the girl in this picture? what can you tell me about her? more info, the better.
Two hours later, he replied:
I love this picture!
Her name is Zhiyan. She is 6, maybe she is 7 now. She is not in school yet. The nearest school would be at least 3 kilometers for her. She lives in a small building which was used to be for water machine pumper. They have put themselves a tent and simple concrete rooms beside.
She is a lovely kid. She raises her hand for any question the teacher asks even if she doesn’t know the answer.
Her father is a Peshmarga [soldier]. He is very low paid. He works in his vacation with a 2 ton vehicle to sell cleaning supplies. He has a disabled boy who is 12 beside another girl and boy, but Zhiyan is the youngest.
Our TentED team is staunchly committed to monitoring and evaluating our projects. It’s important for us to step back and look at the big picture and ensure that we’re matching hard earned donor dollars against the best, most impactful activities. Yet, as this photograph reminded me, it’s equally important, as we fuss over receipts and reports, to not lose sight of what’s at stake here.
It’s nothing less than the dreams and aspirations of one little girl with happy eyes.
Help us do more of this