Mar Qardakh School, the private, Catholic day school where my husband – Eddy, and I both work opened its doors to its first students in September of this year, and held it’s official inauguration ceremony on November 11, 2011.
The school entrance, as seen from the front gate, is bright and inviting. The reception area right inside the entrance is spacious, neat, and usually empty with the exception of 7:40 AM, when around 200 1st-4th graders flood into the building, and 4:00 PM, when they line up and sing songs while waiting for the buses.
The primary division is complete with classrooms, lockers, resources…
And, as most teachers can probably relate to, plenty of bulletin boards!
Not all of the school is complete yet –the structure to be used by the secondary school section and some other facilities, like outdoor sports fields to complement the indoor hall and gym will be completed over the summer, and ready for use by next year. In the meantime, the gym teachers have been creative use of an empty field in the front that will later become the garden!
While Mar Qardakh School may look like a regular school on the outside, it is much more than that for those of us who work there, for the local Church, and for the community. Iraq is a land of legacy. It has been known by great names that continue to thunder down through the centuries: Babylon, Mesopotamia, Assyria, and now Iraq. It has been a land of beginnings, often referred to as the Cradle of Civilization. This land saw the beginning of civilization and settlement, the beginning of culture, the beginning of writing and the beginning of education. In terms of Christianity, the region is believed to have first been evangelized by the Apostle Thomas, very soon after the death of Christ. Christians have been native to the land since the beginning of Christianity. Today, it is in need of investment in order to perpetuate and add to its great heritage, both as a center of culture, and as a nucleus of Christianity.
Mar Qardakh has united many people – donors and investors, teachers and administrators, students and families, Iraqis, Kurds and foreigners, around a common goal. It is seen as a new beginning in this land of beginnings, as an effort to invest in the Christian community, and in society at large. People of countless origins and backgrounds have poured their hearts and souls into this project because of what it represents: dedication to the future of the country, and dedication to the future of Christianity in the region. By providing a quality, international education, Mar Qardakh is investing in the future of each individual and of the community as a whole. Helping students develop into caring, responsible, knowledgeable and balanced individuals will lead to a caring, responsible, mature and balanced community. Teaching students to learn from each other and contribute to the community will lead to a society that is able to dialogue and work with other cultures and societies, and also recognize its responsibility to each individual. Providing education strengthens culture and identity. It fosters dialogue and international-mindedness. Ultimately, the investment dedicated to education is returned to society, as educated individuals become leaders in their respective fields, and thus benefit the society on multiple fronts, stimulating the job market, economic growth, culture and development.
My husband and I are glad to have the opportunity to be a part of this endeavor, and we ask all of you to please pray for Mar Qardakh School and ask other people to pray for it as well. Also, if you know anyone that might be interested in coming over in person to support the Church and region in this way, please let me know!