During an 11-day campaign in September, UNDP Iraq’s Diyala Youth Group for Peace painted a 100-metre-long mural depicting peace and freedom in Diyala’s capital city. The artwork now adorning the external wall of Al-Huriyah (Freedom) High School in the center of Baquba is an initiative created by the local youth to promote coexistence and peace among community members. More than 20 youth participated in the design and painting, including volunteers, and school representatives.
While the painting was taking place, local officials stopped to visit the youth and commend them for beautifying the city. The authorities took their own initiative to send water trucks to wash the area after the work was completed and provided cement to fix the sidewalks near the artwork.
A local police officer responsible for the security of the area emphasizes, “I am so happy to see that youth are interested in making their city look beautiful and devoting the time to volunteer for their community.”
Below, the Diyala Youth Group responds to questions on the Peace and Freedom Mural.
What was the response from the community while you were creating the mural?
The response was amazing. Throughout the implementation of the activity the team received many messages of encouragement on Facebook and many people stopped by and chatted with the team to express their support. Some of them even offered to work with the team. The response was so positive that we want to repeat this initiative in another area.
How do you think this mural will affect the community?
The mural being in the heart of the city center of Diyala sends a strong message about what youth can do. It is a step to change the face of the city. During the 11 days of work, we saw many smiles from people walking by.
What is your wish for this community in Diyala looking to the future?
We wish that the community will continue to support similar activities and that it will encourage beauty and cleanliness in the city. We also hope for a strong partnership between youth and the local government in Diyala to flourish and spread the spirit of peace. We want to make society cohesive in Diyala.
Part of the Social Cohesion Programme’s Integrated Reconciliation Project focuses on empowering youth and strengthening their position within society by building their confidence to encourage better engagement with communities and local authorities. With support from the Government of Denmark, youth groups in the governorates of Anbar, Salah Al-Din, Diyala and Ninewa have undertaken various initiatives to improve their communities this year.
Next up, the Diyala Youth Group will undertake projects at three schools across the governorate, including improvements to infrastructure, painting, and provision of first aid kits for students and teachers.
For more information on UNDP Iraq’s Social Cohesion Programme, click here.