The evening began with the incredible and mesmerising voice of Atheer Mundar, a simple young lad who wowed the audience with his energy, passion and enthusiasm. Performing in the newly refurbished UNAMI Auditorium fitted with excellent acoustics and lighting, Atheer’s ballads of love and beauty - belted out to the tunes of his three-man band - resonated well with the crowd, prompting many to sing along and break into traditional dance.
With the highlight of the evening focused on Atahada, which translates to “I challenge”, Dr. Hiba Hussein, a Psychiatrist at the Ibn Rushd Psychiatric Hospital in Baghdad, delivered a heart-warming synopsis of how the organisation strives to ease the pain and suffering of families with children affected by and battling cancer. Since the launch of the charity in 2016, Atahada has successfully transformed ideas into action resulting in rehabilitation of paediatric wards at several hospitals in Baghdad as well as provision of medical and psychological support. Raising funds through voluntary contributions, musical performances and proceeds from bazaars of traditional Iraqi artefacts and attire, Ms. Rasha Hameed, founder of Atahada, emotionally stated that “Our biggest goal is to build a specialised, well-equipped centre to manage and treat cancer cases, so that we can put a smile on the faces of our innocent children”.
Heeding the call to support a noble cause, UN staff browsed the exhibition area set-up with tables displaying beautifully crafted ornaments, handmade jewellery, paintings, mosaics, traditional carpets, and much more. Many bought souvenirs handcrafted by Iraqi artists. Staff were also treated to a fashion show in which Iraqi designers Hadeer and Dhikra showcased their line of elegant robes adorned with intricate designs in dazzling colours.
Captivated by the performances, Mr. Maqbool Mohammed, UNAMI Chief of Mission Support, remarked how “Iraq - unlike any other duty station - is a unique duty station, especially for international staff. Being confined to the Green Zone in Baghdad means that we all have very limited access and fewer opportunities to experience, appreciate and enjoy the cultural flavour and beauty that Iraq has to offer. It is precisely for this reason that the Staff Welfare Committee overcomes challenges, reaches out to the Iraqi community and organises such magnificent cultural and social events thus bringing the essence of Iraq to the UN compound in Baghdad so that we, too, can feel some sense of normality”.
The evening came to a close following a superb performance by the Peace to Arts Quartet. Comprised of four very talented Iraqi youth on percussion, guitar, saxophone and keyboard, the magical notes carried the audience through the remainder of the three-hour evening. Selflessly volunteering their time and talent to advance the cause of Atahada, the performers and artisans put on an excellent show for UN Staff in Baghdad. It truly was an amazing evening and a memory that will remain etched in my mind and, more importantly, in my heart for a very long time.
By Laila Shamji, Public Information Office, UNAMI
Photo captions/Photo credit (UNAMI PIO):
Crafts: Souvenirs handcrafted by Iraqi artists
Dream: “Our biggest goal is to build a specialised, well-equipped centre to manage and treat cancer cases”
Fashion Show: Iraqi designers Hadeer and Dhikra showcased their line of elegant robes
Group: UN Staff and performers at the end of the evening’s show
Quartet: Iraqi Peace to Arts Quartet
Atheer Mundar: Atheer Mundar wowed the audience with his energy, passion and enthusiasm
For additional photos, click here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uniraq/albums/72157677710989231