Teacher Story

For the Sake of Education

   She carried a bag full of what she considered to be precious cargo – precious enough for her to risk her life delivering its contents.  This woman braved the dangers of travelling in a combat zone.  She couldn’t travel on the roads because of the dangers of encountering roadside bombs, or sections of the city being blocked off by military personnel conducting operations. So, she took a different avenue of approach – she crossed the Diyala River. “I didn’t want the students to be deprived of the rights to take the tests like all other students in the state,” said Mouna al-Umairi, the teacher who found a way to facilitate the test process.

      The directors of the schools refused to come get the tests and supervisors of the exam districts refused to give the tests, all due to security concerns. No one else was willing to go get the tests, so she took it upon herself to get the exams...

     Most of the roads were blocked to transportation. She thought the best way to move around the city would be by the river. “There are no blocks on the river,” she said. “I took the initiative to be the bridge to those areas and make success of these exams,” she added, “and so the students don’t lose their morale and don’t think they are being left behind because of the situation.”

       “They had a legal right to take the test, and that’s a right of any human being to get education and continue with education,” she added. The first hurdle she had encountered was picking up the exams. To do this al-Umairi used any means of transportation possible – boat, donkey cart, walking, car, and even an ambulance.

        She was 10 minutes late at the pick-up point to receive the exams. The personnel at the test distribution point contacted the Center of Education in Baghdad. They were told not to give her the exams for being late.
 So, she contacted the Minister of Education in Baghdad, and explained the situation. She told him the students were ready to take the exams.  “The Minister of Education told me, ‘Tell the Director of Education that you are the Minister of Education in Diyala and I am authorizing you to take the tests. You will be my representative in the state,” al-Umairi said.

       When she finally acquired the exams and got to the students, she was so overwhelmed with having accomplished her task that she began to cry tears of joy. Had she not picked up and dropped off the tests, almost 1,300 students from 13 schools would have been deprived of taking the exams.

     “Mouna is an outstanding individual who sees the big picture for the future of Diyala,” said Capt. Jan Rose, a nurse with Company C, who has worked with al-Umairi. “She knows that education is the road out of the ways of the past. She is especially passionate about helping females. I asked her once where her desire to help people comes from and she looked at me and simply said, ‘God.’

     Mouna helped students and schools in the villages north of Baqubah in the Diyala River Valley. She said that day was a victory for her and the students. “I would like to thank all those who recognized and appreciated my efforts,” said al-Umairi. “It’s something that makes me happy because I brought joy and a smile back to these students. I felt that I was a mother to all these students.”

    Rose said that al-Umairi is one of Baqubah’s tireless leaders and a hero. She is an elected provincial council member. She represents all of Diyala, not just Baqubah. She leads by example. The people see her out doing her work.  The former teacher’s efforts made it possible for almost 1,300 students to participate in the national exam. A brave woman for the sake of education!

Armando Monroig

                What's your first impression when reading this story?