Ahmed, (30), was one of the top students in his high school in Mosul, Iraq. His dream was to attend engineering college. However, in his final year exams he just missed out on the grades that he needed.
But he did not lose hope. Determined to achieve his dream, he enrolled in the Technical Institute of Mosul and after two years of hard work was on his way to engineering college.
The college of engineering was located in Tikrit, in central Iraq. As Ahmed knuckled down to study chemical engineering, tragedy struck. The Islamic State (ISIS) seized control of his home city Mosul, and eventually nearly a quarter of Iraq.
He says: “It was during my end of year exams when ISIS took my hometown. The University of Tikrit shut its doors and I decided to return to Mosul to be with my family.”
When Ahmed arrived back in Mosul, the oppression and violence of ISIS were not his only problems. He began to experience pain and was diagnosed with a rare neuroma. As conflict waged around him he underwent emergency surgery.
Once recovered, Ahmed was determined to find a way to continue his studies. He made the difficult decision to leave his family once again and travel to Kirkuk and then Baghdad to complete the final stages of his degree.
“My country had become the land of darkness, but I could not put my dreams on hold. I worked as an electrician to cover my college fees, often missing classes as a result.”
In 2015, while in Bagdad, Ahmed’s sister died at the age of 25 in a house fire. To make matters worse, because of the occupation by ISIS, Ahmed could not attend the funeral.
Despite war, illness and personal loss, Ahmed finally graduated with a degree in engineering. One year later, Mosul was liberated from the grips of ISIS and Ahmed returned to his family.
“I wanted to return and use my engineering skills to help rebuild my city from the ashes of war.”
One evening, Ahmed attended a training course funded by GOAL. After learning about their work he applied for a job as Project Assistant.
Now Ahmed works full time harnessing his skills and expertise to help GOAL rebuild Mosul. He works primarily in electrical engineering.
Although inspiring, Ahmed’s story is not necessarily unique. After nearly two decades of conflict, there are thousands of people like him across Iraq who are working to rebuild their country and their futures.