Last week all schools and universities were closed in Pakistan after suicide bombers attacked a university in Islamabad this week. We thought it would be interesting to have a discussion about how difficult life is for young people living in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. So we asked Lubna, a medical student in Baghdad, to tell us her story. If you have any questions for Lubna or want to take part as a student growing up in conflict please get in touch with the WHYS team via this blog.
Hello, I am Lubna, a final year medical student at Baghdad Medical School and a loyal listener and contributor to the WHYS programme. This is my final year before graduation. It’s been six long years, bitter and sweet, filled with misery and joy, decorated by sad and happy memories.
During my time at college I have witnessed both advances and setbacks. I’ve lived some of the best moments of my life, and also some of the worst. I am writing this message to all students who are living in places doomed by war and violence. I want to share my experiences and let you know how I’ve survived college till this moment.
Firstly, let me say that the security situation in Baghdad is much better than it used to be and going to college has stopped being a life or death decision. Also, thankfully it’s been a while since one of my loved ones was murdered.
When you’re exposed to such a huge deal of loss and grief at such a young age, within such a short period of time, there will be two pathways in front of you to choose from; hope or despair. From the beginning I chose hope.
Am I always successful at being hopeful? Of course not! Sometimes I manage to keep my faith alive, other times I just fall to my knees and shout “Why is all of this happening to me?!” But you know what? It’s not really about falling to the ground, but your ability to stand up proudly after each time you fall down. Having faith truly helps. This can be faith in God, faith in yourself, faith in your loved ones, faith in your country and faith in your future.
No matter how harsh and brutal your environments are, try to detach a portion of yourself from everything around you, and keep that for studying and gaining knowledge. Remember you are not superhuman and give yourself a chance to grieve.
You must also be determined to help out your fellow-citizens under all circumstances, have a purpose in life and set yourself long-term goals. But the most crucial is to help make your country a better place. Trust me, I have been there.
I’ll be graduating from medical school next July. My heart is full of scars of previous losses and setbacks, but I do have faith that our dawn will come one day. The best of luck to all of you, and my sincere prayers are with you from Baghdad.