On February 25, 2020, the Iraqi government abruptly halted daily life, leaving our routines in disarray. I had to stop my university studies, my mother “Luma” paused her library workshops that were designed to support students in school-related activities, and my 15 years-old brother’s “Mohammed” school remained uncertain.
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the internet has become our lifeline. I immersed myself in teaching my mother computer skills while exploring Wikipedia. However, navigating its tools was challenging.
During this time, I crossed paths with someone named “Ravan“, residing approximately 400 kilometers away in northern Iraq, who appeared to be a seasoned Wikipedia user. Connecting with her revealed she managed a group of Iraqis involved in wiki projects. Her guidance and encouragement propelled me to further explore the functionalities of Wikipedia, leading me on an experimental journey with its tools.
Recognizing my mother’s passion for writing and article reviews, I envisioned using Wikipedia as a medium to introduce her to technology. This notion initiated a connection between my mother and Ravan, culminating in a real-life meeting a few months later. This encounter proved pivotal, particularly for my mother, igniting her interest in learning about Wikipedia. Ravan, as a woman in this domain, shattered any stereotypes tied to age or gender, inspiring my mother in her pursuit.
Subsequently, my mother embarked on a profound exploration of the encyclopedia, acquainting herself with its tools. She not only encouraged my brother and me to regularly edit Wikipedia but also treated it as a daily academic pursuit—an act reminiscent of the caring nature of mothers.
Engaging with various individuals from the Arab world, we participated in workshops and collaborated to mentor newcomers, notably during the 18th Arabic Wikipedia Day. Leading her first online workshop, my mother garnered support from Arab colleagues, showcasing her adeptness with computers and Wikipedia while interacting with diverse personalities, filling me with immense joy.
Our contributions continued within the Iraqi Wikimedians user group in 2022, conducting workshops across different regions in Iraq. ended with organizing an Edit-a-thon in Baghdad for 50 participants alongside our group colleagues, Ravan, Mahmoud, and Osama.
Following encounters with Arab colleagues at the 2022 Wiki Arabia Conference in Dubai, our involvement grew significantly. We established numerous partnerships and deepened our understanding of this community. Meeting Maryana, the Wikimedia Foundation CEO, and her encouragement towards my mother was profoundly impactful.
In 2023, our contributions to Wikimedia projects soared. I have organized the first Wikidata workshop in Iraq for 23 individuals alongside Mohammed my mother & brother. Meanwhile, my 15-year-old brother persisted in expanding articles and contributing images on Commons. His progress led him to participate in designing the logo for the 19th Arabic Wikipedia Day, earning wide acclaim and official adoption.
Currently, I am honored to not only lead our small family but also the larger family, the Iraqi Wikimedians user group.
Collaborating across various projects and co-founding the Wikidata Arabic Community has instilled in me a sense of responsibility to expand our work across all levels.
I extend heartfelt gratitude to everyone who contributed to our family’s journey. we’re dedicated to sharing knowledge freely. Wiki contributions continually remind me of Armstrong’s quote, “One small step for man, One giant leap for mankind.”.
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