Wednesday, February 28, 2007


"We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing."
~ Maria Mitchell.

Something of importance from my email inbox:

My name is Helene Sairany and I am a first year graduate student pursuing a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences at Northeastern University. I am currently coordinating a project called, "Together for Pharmacy and Medical Students in Kurdistan." The project’s purpose is to gather textbooks and electronic resources for use in the academic renewal of Universities in Kurdistan.

I am originally from Kurdistan. Over the past decades, students in Kurdistan have suffered greatly and are therefore falling terribly behind academically. This is mainly due to the sanctions that were imposed on Iraq for 15 years, the civil war between Arabs and Kurds, the atrocities committed by the past regime against Kurds in Northern Iraq, and even now that the regime is over, the daily acts of terrorism.

Medical and Pharmacy students in Kurdistan lack books and resources that they need to pursue their education. The aforementioned tragedies are a few examples of the many obstacles that medical students have faced or continue to face in Northern Iraq. The war has impacted many lives and students’ motivation for school. Due to the sanctions, students rely on very worn-out resources; every 2-3 students share one copy of a book.

The point of the project is to make more research resources available for students in Kurdistan. In graduate school in the United States, professors propose a research question for discussion and suggest where and how it can be researched. Based on research, the mind builds up opinions and ideas. There can be up to 10 points of view for the same topic. The mind gets used to dealing with alternatives and respecting other points of view, and condemning discrimination. Yet, how can we expect to learn how to tolerate these differing points of view and conduct thorough research in Kurdistan if we lack legitimate research sites? When you talk about research, students' only electronic resources are GOOGLE or YAHOO. Having said this, it is our ultimate responsibility to provide students in Kurdistan with as many books, electronic resources and journals for their academic use as possible.

Students without access to adequate research materials will naturally be lacking the same level of objectivity as their contemporaries and are more likely to have a more narrow point of view. This is what students are facing in Kurdistan and, as a result, when the student comes across a different point of view, he is unable to understand it or find alternatives and the brain stops.

With science, topical books are flavored with a new scientific discovery everyday. And, as a medical graduate student, I try really hard to keep up with the updates. As a person in the science field, I must state that I am very FORTUNATE to obtain my doctorate in the USA, in a University that is furnished with the latest medical journals and sources in general. Yet, what about those students, (that I like to call my sisters and brothers), in Northern Iraq? What do they rely on? Very old and outdated sources! What do they know about the science today? I am afraid to say, not a lot!

For now, your help is very urgent, so please let me know how you or an agency with which you are affiliated may help. Through your involvement, you can help the people of Kurdistan rebuild one of their nation's premier institutions of higher education, countering the effects of decades of deprivation and intellectual repression. Courses at the Medical Universities are taught in English, but faculty and students have not had access to new texts since 1990.

Specifically, to reduce the costs/logistics of shipping, we are seeking electronic resources or videotapes – journal collections, textbooks, atlases of plant histology or human organs or tissues or other programs on CD or with online access.

We also want to prepare a bibliography of valid, free medical links on the Internet.

In addition, we are looking for textbooks which can be sent to re-stock the medical library. The following list of topics was provided by the President of one of the Medical Universities in Hawler, the capital of Northern Iraq. I studied the list and I was able to come up with the following subjects that the Medical University is in need of:

*Basic textbooks or journals in areas such as pathology, microbiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, anatomy, histology, medicinal chemistry, nuclear pharmacy, herbal medicine, organic chemistry, and molecular biology; clinical textbooks in all areas of medicine, surgery, pediatrics, OB/GYN, and any other basic texts.

*Please consider contributing with current editions (or no more than one edition out of date, published in the last 5 years) and in reasonably good condition. Nursing and pharmacy publications are also needed.

*General, specialty and subspecialty journals published in the last 5 years are in great demand; in particular, those devoted to medicine, surgery, OB/GYN, pediatrics, orthopedics, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery, emergency medicine, ENT, nursing, and pharmacy.

In addition, we are kindly asking for:

1. Any textbook, journal, or topic on plant biology, biology of plant cell, medical usage of plant, botany, or plant histology.

2. Any medical encyclopedia or medical dictionary.

3. Any medical atlas on human histology, anatomy, etc.

4. Any textbook or journal on drug interaction and/or natural medicine.

5. Any textbook or journal on liquid chromatography.

6. Any textbook or journal on methods for determining the impurity of drugs.

7. Any encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs, botanicals, etc.

8. Any textbook or journal on medical ethics.

9. Any textbook or journal on NMR or EPR.

10. Any textbook or journal on capillary electrophoresis for food products

11. Any textbook on organic structures

Please feel free to contact me at or

We thank you in advance for your generosity. We plan to publish future updates to let readers know how this effort is progressing.

As a note on textbooks in South Kurdistan in general, in 2003, the CPA ordered Arab Iraq to clean up school textbooks by removing Ba'ath regime propaganda. The CPA did not have to order the same for South Kurdistan because when South Kurdistan was given Iraqi textbooks by the UN in 1992, it saw they were unusable in Kurdistan due to Ba'ath propaganda. That was when the KRG began to start Kurdistan's education system from scratch. While there is still a long way to go, the fact is that Kurds recognize the need for proper education.

So, if anyone can help Helene, please contact her. The future of Kurdistan depends on your efforts now.

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