Nothing stopped Aysar from pursuing her dreams; not paralysis, not losing hope for studying in her favorite field and not even the former Ba’ath regime’s brutality.
Ayser is now an active person who advocates for peace in a province plagued by disputes and conflicts, and struggles to achieve the rights of people with special needs.
The life story of 55 year old Aysar Bayati began with a tragedy. She lost her ability to move her legs due to a medical malpractice. When she was only 3, her brother was executed by the former Ba’ath regime.
Her dream was to join the fine arts institute but it was difficult for her to afford education expenses in the capital Baghdad
All these obstacles did not stop Aysar from writing her success story.
Aysar’s early life
Ayser, an ethnic-Turkmen was born in 1964 in Kirkuk’s Musalla neighborhood, she was only 3 when a medical malpractice paralyzed her legs.
“I had a high fever; my father took me to a nearby medical practitioner who mistakenly gave me a syringe which later paralyzed my legs. A few days later my father brought me crutches, and those crutches have been with me for more than 50 years," she said.
When Aysar became 6, she joined school. Despite her medical condition, she successfully completed the various stages of school and thought of admission to the fine arts institute.
Such institute did not exist in Kirkuk at the time, and her family’s difficult financial situations prevented her from pursuing that dream in Baghdad.
Aysar pursues her dreams at home
Aysar was interested in ballet, but it was a far-fetched dream for someone in her condition. She thought of exploring her potentials in other fields, like painting and handicrafts.
She started a knitting project and hired some people to help her with the work. Her project proved a great success with demands reaching not only from Kirkuk, but also from Baghdad and Mosul.
“Besides painting, I was writing poems and short stories."
Everything was going well, but suddenly her life was turned upside down.
Her father died of a sudden illness, her brother was executed by former Ba’ath regime authorities. What added to her suffering was the tragic death of another of her brothers who suffocated to death by a poisonous gas along with his wife.
It was up to Aysar to raise eight children at a time she was suffering a financial crisis after she lost her business.
"I was thinking that this is a tough time that I should overcome and never lose hope. I began to write documentaries, and draw artworks."
Acer’s life gradually improved In the 1990s. Amid her busy life, she found a space to work as a reporter.
Aysar’s success story begins
From the year 2000 and on, Aysar became an advocate for women’s rights and her activities grew beyond Kirkuk earning her wider relations.
Acer has organized more than 30 exhibitions to display her artworks; some of them were outside Iraq, including (Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia). She had an active participation in festivals and conferences on ethnic and religious coexistence.
"I have been awarded 200 certificates of appreciation, along with 23 honorary medals by international organizations in and outside Iraq," She said.
She also won the Arab Academy Award at a drawing and story-writing festival, and because of her activities, she was elected as an ambassador for peace at an event in 2014 in Egypt.
Aysar is now member in more than 25 local and foreign organizations and unions. She even designs logos for international festivals and exhibitions, and have so far published four books.
She is a member of the Turkmen Women’s Relief Organization, a trainer at NGOs and also works in projects aimed to assist IDPs.
Freedom is priority
She sometimes faced criticism about her artworks, yet she says, “I draw what I want; people are free to criticize, but I do not draw a painting to win the approval of a particular group.”
"I do not want to make anything that go beyond the red lines and turn away from the rules of Islam, but there should be a space for my personal freedom," says Acer.
Aysar has more dreams to achieve
In a city which has long been experiencing ethnic and religious conflicts, Aysar has more dreams to realize. She wants to promote peaceful coexistence among Kirkuk’s diverse components, and achieve equality.
“I wish I get enough help to establish an association for people with special needs which could provide an opportunity to polish their potential capabilities. I want this association to be a means to deliver their voices to relevant authorities.”
Aysar criticizes the government for not being able to meet the basic needs of people with special needs.
According to figures obtained by Aysar, there are about four million people with special needs in Iraq.
Aysar Bayati realized many of her dreams; however she always thinks about ballet as the only dream she hasn’t been able to achieve.