How Nina’s story became part of my story, by Hawraa Abdullah Abbas
It’s not been easy, but when I saw the picture of people receiving Nina issue 2 in Iraq and in other parts of the world, all the difficulties I faced supporting the practical needs of printing Nina, the ultimate women’s empowerment magazine, made it worthwhile.
As a steering group member of NGO The Private Sector Development Center (PSDC) in Iraq, publisher of Nina, I’ve known Nina since it launched last May. However, it was with this second issue that Nina became part of my life. Essentially, I handled the printing and distribution process from the heart of Karbala city. For nearly two months I felt I was constantly on call. I thank God for our success. Here’s how it all happened:
The decision to publish had been made in September. Following a few introductory calls, I suggested to Deputy Editor in Chief, Mrs. Sana Bekki that we should consider printing Nina in Karbala City, at a printing house which was known to me. My suggestion was approved and I consequently approached the printers and agreed various details such as quality, sizes, papers, and importantly also – production deadlines! As we got closer to these deadlines the Karbala /Jordan ‘hotline’ started coming into action. Sana and I were constantly in touch, ensuring that everything was in place for the print process in terms of both efficiency and quality.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly until I received the Mock Up (sample) late November, two days before the printed issue was due to be delivered. Everything was fine – apart from the fact that the printer refused to print with our original cover! I was shocked and remained silent for moments, then started to question who refused and why. Everything had been approved, by them, weeks previously. Their answer was essentially that they only print religious and educational stuff; our hint of shoulder on the cover was not in keeping with their policy. After a long discussion with the manager, he suggested that we print in Baghdad, offering us the same quality and prices. Because I had spent significant time ensuring the production quality and processes, I refused. So, what now? The manager’s idea was to replace whole cover replacing the photo. In turn, I suggested to making some tweaks to the same photo covering parts of it. Reluctantly he agreed. Our two way hotline became a four way one – with calls to Huda our designer in London and to Madeleine, our editor in chief, in terms of final approvals.
Sana was always there at the end of the phone. She reassured me that Huda would be able to react swiftly, preparing an alternative cover by tweaking the photo. The printer was amazed by our efficiency – and so within a day Nina was on the printing presses. However because of all this, we were a day late getting Nina to the distributors. This in itself caused the next set of problems.
By being slightly late we hit the timing of the religious festivals (Zeyara), held in Karbala. Because of the significant visitor numbers to the city (almost 21 million), most routes in and out of Karbala were closed. Added to this were the ongoing security issues – which of course had created significant challenges in themselves. However, with the support of my family and friends I managed to deal with all of it, ensuring that this second issue of Nina reached designated places inside Iraq (Baghdad, Basra, Erbil, Sulaymania and Babylon). As if that wasn’t enough, I then managed to ship the magazine to our offices in different countries outside Iraq (Jordan, UAE, UK, Sweden).
None of this could have happened without the support of my family and friends. The fact that they helped and were there for me, understanding how important Nina magazine is to me was invaluable. So, being able to express my deep thanks to them here, is part of my story. Another part of the story is my gratitude to Khalid Mahdi, Chair of the PSDC. He encouraged me by suggesting that I would personally be able to add significant value to Nina Magazine. I hope I have proved him right!
Nina is full of color and life. Its vibrancy reflects the Iraqi spirit and opportunity, despite all adversity. The joys of Iraq, not just grey and black. It is important we remember the colour and joy of our nation. I am glad I have been able to be part of a project that does this, connecting all of us, no matter where we are in a belief in the enduring spirit of Iraq and the strength of its women. And that’s why Nina’s story became part of my story, I hope it becomes part of yours too!