Scared by laziness
I often speak of the positive developments; the facelift afforded to our cities and the great new economic prosperity in our region. But I also refer to what is beneath that glossy surface, poverty, lack of childcare systems and a model of healthcare that speaks for itself. A great part of the dark side of Kurdistan to me at least, is the new flood of foreign workers entering Kurdistan Region while many young Kurds choose to stay jobless.
As I was reading the news I came across companies that hire foreign workers to Kurdistan, the ad specifically quoted ‘housekeeping vacancies in Erbil’. One curious click led to another and I quickly found myself reading about horror stories of foreign workers being mistreated and articles criticizing the growing unemployment among young Kurds. The case of the workers being mistreated is one alarming issue worth highlighting in another column, but another core problem arising is the concern for the dimin- ished work ethics among many younger, brighter and capable Kurdish citizens.
For most of history, Kurds in south Kurdistan have been proud of their reputation as hardworking people, and the fact is that whether within our borders or across the pacific, the Kurdish people have proven to tirelessly and shamelessly strive through sweat and tears for most of their achievement. But have the recent developments in south Kurdistan enabled a too lade back attitude among younger citizens?
I am aware that the subject of foreign workers has been touched on before, but it is the other side of the coin that puzzles me. I find it grossly shocking that there is an emerging lazy attitude among many Kurdish citizens who feel ashamed to take on a job as a cleaner or as a housekeeper.
My heart is at the right place when I express concern that the Kurdish people are facing a central issue that is possibly leading to long-term consequences for generations to come. The can of worms may have already been opened, and I question what happened to the Kurdish saying that ‘a rock is heaviest at its place’, a reference that we must not forget our roots. We Kurds were not that long ago the ones crossing borders to work at homes, clean restrooms and serve as guardians for the elderly to make ends meet. Today and probably less than a decade into partial self-governance of our region in the South, some local Kurds are getting on their high horse believing the oil revenues and the billions invested by foreign companies will buy them endless help without costing them a teardrop of sweat.
There are more than 4000 foreign workers in Kurdistan who have come through various foreign companies mostly occupying the most basic jobs, not because they are less meaningful as humans or they are taking over the job market. But because these are some of the most common ways of providing for their families, and while many local Kurds turn away such vacancies, foreign workers are needed in higher demand.
Kurdistan is at its flourishing moment where countless jobs are created and hundred of capable workers are needed. While new generations are being born into a less stressful Kurdish way of life, our public and political sphere needs to plant its seeds early to prevent trouble free way of life turning into a scatter of laziness.
Suggestively, the initiatives to gradually end the lazy habits must firstly come culturally. But the government can be central in changing the lack of enthusiasm by introducing a system that reflects the good old saying ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. But teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’