"I thought that the blur would go away after a few hours like every time because of the eye disease I had but from that day I lost my sight completely, so I had to re-learn things that I used to do spontaneously such as walking, going up stairs, eating and how to study".
With a sweet and soft face and shining eyes, these words came out of Nour's mouth as she climbed the global platform TEDx to talk about her experience after she emerged from the era of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS with dark eyes and insight.
TEDx 2019, independent events for speakers organized by or licensed by TED, an American media organization that posts talks online for free, has landed in the capital, Baghdad. Noor Al-Taie, the Mosulawi girl, only 21, was one of the influential figures who were given the opportunity to share her experiences in front of the audience. Two and a half minutes were filled by the girl with moving words while the whole audience heartly listened.
Before standing on TEDx
Noor had no idea that ISIS takeover of Mosul in 2014 will cause her to lose her sight forever at the end of 2015. The disease that has haunted her since her childhood distorted the image of life in her eyes.
She and the whole family have been waiting to reach the age that would allow her to undergo surgery again. She has the ability to look with her eyes effortlessly but when the young girl was shocked by the extremist organization's control of the city, matters went worse since her parents' efforts to facilitate the procedures for her surgery in India have failed.
Her father says as he sits waiting for her to finish the radio show she presents in one of the local media outlets in Mosul.
"I have tried all the means so that I could treat her even if I had to sell my house, but ISIS prevented me from leaving Mosul and performing an operation for her, claiming the Islamic State has hospitals and doctors capable of performing the surgery," her father bitterly recalls.
ISIS’s grip over the war-torn city of Mosul and large swathes of Iraq from 2014 to 2017 could not extinguish Nour's flame of hope while she was at the height of her preoccupation with realizing her dream, which she had been waiting for so long in her ears.
She filled her days, after ISIS stopped education in the city, by listening to the radio. The small device that became an outlet for the Mosulis during the organization’s control of the city, through which they could hear the news of Iraq and its liberation from the grip of ISIS. The dream that Nour imagined when she saw life with her own eyes, she achieved it after liberation yet could not see it.
"I kept a small radio set since I was young. I wanted to be a presenter. For three years, the radio never left me for a moment, forming in my imagination a picture of me presenting radio programs but I didn't know how to do it," Nour told KirkukNow.
In 2018, Nour joined the first radio station that opened in Mosul after liberation. To start her radio career with a program for the creative people of determination, she won the admiration of many with her performance and good preparation.
"We were astonished by Nour's performance, as she submitted to the test. She was the first to have the opportunity to appear on the air among the applicants. She was almost ready," Abdel Basset, a program presenter at the same radio station, says.
Nour continued to present radio programs and appear in television reports until 2019, to start a new challenge in her life: passing the high school successfully.
"I was sitting next to my mother and she was reading and I listened and recorded her voice on my personal phone so that I could review it at the time of the exams," Nour says about studying hard to join the university.
The girl managed to pass the exams, but she was shocked again by the result, which read "F" for all the subjects, meaning "failed" because of "cheating."
She returned and took the tests again, and the result was then positive and managed to enroll in the Department of Media, University of Mosul showing her skills with the relentless and unconditional support of her parents whom are confident of a future that will compensate for her losing the opportunity to be treated and enjoy ordinary vision.
Dr. Muhammad Ali, Dean of the College of Arts, Mosul University, expresses his pride in Nour and others like her in achieving their ambition.
"A wonderful achievement was achieved by this when she got 85% at grade six (of high school) final exams enabling her to admit to the media department at Mosul University based on her desire," the dean said.
As for Dania Alaa, Nour's colleague at the university, where she studies with her in the same specialty, she treats Nour as normal as any other girl because she does not want to separate her from other classmates.
Nour deals with social media on a daily basis and communicates with everyone through the "Voice Over" feature provided by mobile devices, which allows the visionless to listen to written texts and translate what is read.
Nour posts on her personal page on daily bases, explaining how she communicates with users and deal with applications, writes motivational publications on her pages, shares diaries from her personal, university and professional life, and has a channel on "Telegram" that has more than 200 subscribers concerned with poetry, quotes and thoughts she writes like: "I spent a long period of my childhood not understanding how adults sleep on the night of Eid easily, how they principally fall asleep until I grew up and understood."
All these activities prompted some followers to accuse her of "lying" and that she sees but hides it. Nour replied, "I lost sight at the age of 13 due to eye hypertension disease, which means I cannot act for all this period yet technology has allowed and saved us a lot, and it is in constant development, and this makes me happy."
Nour suffers from the problem of how to navigate the university campus easily in order to obtain the courses she is interested in. Nour plans to establish a project for "The lightful", which is a gathering of volunteers who can provide a service for the visionless at any time they find suitable for them by voice registering pages from their courses, but the project has not seen light yet.
Lucky, I didn't see...
Nour describes herself during the period of the war against ISIS as being "lucky", for not seeing the fall of the Al-Hadba minaret, which had a negative ipact on her for her endless love for the minaret.
Nour still dreams of becoming a popular TV presenter or an academic at the university.
Her ambition is supported by the encouragement of those close to her, especially her father, who helped her during the path she spent until reaching this stage.