Saving Lives in Iraq: The AMAR Foundation Speaks

The interview Saving Lives in Iraq: The AMAR Foundation Speaks, was conducted by Hussein Al-alak, editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra), with Laura Puddefoot-Knaggs, who is the head of fundraising for the London based AMAR Foundation. 

As Laura explains in the interview, AMAR have been working in the Middle East since 1991 and by employing local people to oversee their aid projects, AMAR are able to provide essential services to people on a local level. 

For most Iraqi’s, the AMAR Foundation is known through the work of Baroness Emma Nicholson, who has worked on building the charity since 1991. What this interview provides, is a unique insight into the many outstanding roles and services, which this remarkable British charity provides to the people of Iraq.

Playing for Time, Paul MacAlindin on Upbeat and Iraq

The following interview was conducted by Hussein Al-alak, editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra), with Paul MacAlindin, who is the author of the new book Upbeat, the Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq

What is your name and can you please tell us about your book UPBEAT, the Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq? 

I’m Paul MacAlindin, and I was Musical Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq from 2008-14. UPBEAT: the Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, explains how young Iraqis from across the country came together every year to make music. We explain how our resilience, determination and joy defeated all the obstacles in our way to become the most successful cultural diplomat Iraq has ever seen. 

All to often, we hear about stories of war from inside of Iraq. How does your book stand out from others which have been written about Iraq? 

UPBEAT is a story of Iraqis working together successfully. We show what’s capable when given a chance to flourish in a safe, fair and properly supported environment, free of corruption. 

Through the orchestra, we ended years of isolation from good music teaching and the international music scene for young musicians. It’s also my personal story of how we shared the hope, commitment and mutual respect necessary to keep the orchestra alive. How did we put aside our differences and work hard together to show the world educated, talented and passionate Iraqis? 

In this very risky, complex project, did we also make many mistakes? Of course, we did, but we also learnt, adapted and moved on, showing ourselves to be the wonderful personalities we all were.