Life of Teenagers Cared by the Government
For those teenagers who are not cared for, supervised or raised by their own parents, there is a place called the Teenager's Unit in Erbil. It is a governmental foundation which takes care of teenagers whose parents are either dead or have separated from each other. The place also receives teenagers whose parents, for some reason, are unable to bring them up themselves.
Currently there are 420 teenagers at the Unit, which was founded in 1979. Over 90 of them have not any family members. They are staying at the Unit permanently. The rest are living there temporarily and regularly visited by their families. According to Sheikh Zaito Tofiq, Head of the Social Care Unit in Erbil, those who are living at the Teenager's Unit have come from families that are suffering from social problems. Some of them have lost their father while their mother remarried another person. In that case the children remained uncared for. There are also some whose mothers are dead while the father married another lady who is not ready to take care of them. “Most of those who bring their teenager to the Unit have low educational level and suffer from dysfunctional social relations. They think if they bring their children to the Unit the government will meet all their needs. But this is wrong because the children need their parents’ care, emotions, and sympathy,” said Tofiq.
Tofiq believes that the teenagers feel alienated and find it difficult to be successful if they lack their parent’s support and care even if they have food and accommodations.
In order not to waste their time, the boys are given chances to participate in many training courses at the Unit. Head of the Boys Section at Erbil’s Teenagers Unit, Yousif Abdulwahid, said: “We have various training courses for the teens living here. The courses include swimming, drawing, music, and strengthening courses for the English, sewing, and handcraft. They are free to choose any course they like to take part in.” When asked if the teens have any social and psychological problems at the Unit, Abdulwahid replied:"All the teens have their own sensitive issues they grapple with incessantly, even those living with their parents at home. But the most important thing is that we don’t have youngsters who have serious psychological disorder. Nothing of such has happened here so far.” The teenagers are encouraged to continue their study. Some of them are hard-working and very successful. They study at universities. “We have many young boys who have successfully passed different stages of studying. Some of them even finished their university education. This is thanks to the staff members who spare no effort to help these ambitious and determined individuals," concluded Abdulwahid.