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Walk for Iraq 2011- UK

October 4th, 2011 by Sanasino


A few weeks ago I came across an interesting tweet, labelled with #Walk4Iraq. As an individual with deep passion for this great land, I am always searching for ways to assist, empower or just raise awareness of the situation in Iraq and the difficulties its people face, pre and post-war. The link directed me to what seemed to be the most perfect, simple gesture of love and solidarity for the Iraqi people. Here is Walk For Iraq, a four year old organisation founded by an amazing Iraqi activist Nadia Al Shadhir whom I had the pleasure of meeting on the day of the walk. A woman who has consciously surrounded herself with a beautiful ‘giving’ atmosphere, dedicating her time to walk miles for Iraq, cycle the seven emirates, cycle for Gaza, Hike for Lebanon and inspire those around her, including myself.

The surprisingly large group, 53 in total (plus a dog), united for the first time in Victoria station, prepared to pay its duty to humanity. I was personally surprised to see such a variety of people, ages and race differed as I flicked through the group, admiring every present individual. After a typical and somewhat expected Arab commotion at the ticket desk, two train rides and and an all rounded positive atmosphere, we arrived at Glynde; 23km away from our finish line. The air was purer here, the streets were quieter, and the people were nowhere to be seen. The walking commenced. We crossed a few roads and marched through grassland, dodging hidden holes as hyped Arabic songs echoed around the peaceful scene from the only speaker we had! I remember walking down a pathway and looking up at what seemed to be the top of the world, admiring it and wondering what beauty was to be seen from up there. I then stopped in my tracks as I realised we were walking towards it and one of the organisers, Yasser Al-Astarabadi, swiftly confirmed that we were to climb that hill (I would call it more of a mountain!).

One by one we began to walk up the steep path, fighting gravity as we reached higher and higher. Some seemed to breeze through this as others (me) fell behind sweating and panting for breath. We stopped every now and then to help and motivate different people, reminding them of the reason why we signed up to this; “imagine the people who walk for miles with water pots on their head without spilling a drop of it”, I heard someone say to my sister. Huffing and puffing, she and we, all managed to reach the top. Then and only then did I realise that at the end of every rocky path, every steep slope and every struggle, a beautiful gift from God awaits. The group came to a unanimous yet unvoiced decision to pause, just to look. Some took advantage of this beautiful painting and took photos, others took the chance to lay down while some dug into quick snacks.

We continued walking, now along the top of the hill like Arabian travellers crossing the desert sand. The clear blue sky above and green land surrounding us below were now accompanied by the red white and black as the Iraqi flags waved in the air. Along the way two of our comrades stopped to pray; seeing two of His miniature creations prostrating on a larger creation was nothing less than a warming and humbling experience. As we all proceeded further, we eventually reached our pit stop, a small, quiet village. We stopped off in the square for lunch, some successfully beating others to the benches in the centre of the square(!) while the rest resided along the outskirts.

After a 30 minute (maybe we pushed it to 45minutes) break we took off once more, this time a little less energetic and a little more anxious to reach the end. We crossed over a “Kissing Bridge” to a section of the walk I will never forget! For the next hour and a half to two hours, we achingly (me) walked alongside an everlasting, winding river. As long and tiring as this particular section was, I cannot deny the beauty of it. We passed by a few local teens swimming in the river, covering each other with mud, and passed by older (fully English) residents one of which greeted us with “Asalam alaikom”!!

By this time only a few of the much fitter members were capable of walking without moaning, however, the majority revolted and took a quick rest- and it was then that we started to feel a little drizzle. A few minutes later we continued our walk, umbrellas had come out and hoods were slashed on. The further we walked the harder the rain fail, and as we finally, finally, reached the beach, the Seven Sister Cliffs were only just visible through the rain. We took a few wet snaps and began ascending our final hill, and as we reached the top to look back at the Sisters, the sky cleared for a few minutes, giving us opportunity to take beautiful photographs.

Believe me when I say this did not last long. Suddenly there was a sudden gush of rain and thunder echoed through the air as we stood on top of a muddy cliff with nothing in sight but fog. This was my own personal breaking point. The rest of the group had mustered up enough energy to carry on as I and six others (one of which being our very own Superman, Hussain Makke who took on a very important role in getting us safely down that hill) fought our aching legs, muddy feet, slippery plimsoles and our own negative mentality to slowly and safely descend the final slope into the town of Seaford, our final destination. Two of the six had beat us down the hill and were laughing as they appeared to think I was “lunging” down the hill. I wasn’t, I just ran out of energy and fell continuously for a few minutes (all apparently caught on camera!).

Following that traumatising ordeal we finally reunited with the rest of the team and marched muddy and sweaty through the town of Seaford to the station. We annoyingly turned a number of corners before the “non-existent” station came into sight and all turned up the pace as we flooded the station to board the train home. The majority of the group were filled with excitement as they took the final victory photos, I on the other hand could barely stand any longer and opted out of this. The banter, laughter and photo snapping continued during our final hour home together, as we looked back on what seemed to be a “dreamy” day. A dreamy, tough, eventful and memorable day which we all knew would not only benefit and empower ourselves but the many, many helpless widows of Iraq. And that is what this day was about. Iraq.

A few words I wrote for the day:

I observe as trail of freedom lovers leave a trail
Of muddy footprints,
Humbled at this humanitarian fairy tale book
I looked in,
As the Seven Sisters gather
On my far left
A free bird flies away
With my awestruck breath,
The Sun smoothly setting and finally
Kisses the Earth’s surface,
Picture this scene with me
Cos this is picture perfect,
They told me it would be tough
They told me it would be difficult,
But I envisioned the widows of Iraq
Every time I turned miserable
Climbing those hills is a struggle but the
Struggle doesn’t compare,
I struggled for a day
But they’ve been struggling for years.

Please, please help us do this by donating anything you possibly can to this cause. We as British (and American) citizens have a moral duty to do so and it is time we acknowledge and remember the Iraqi women THIS country widowed.



Thank you to the organisers and God bless every soul I met and connected with on this day.




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