Iraqi Youth Programming Producer Honored as 2011 Koldyke Fellow

March 30, 2012
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is pleased to announce Mr. Hussam A. Hadi as the 2011 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellow. The Chicago Council is honoring Mr. Hadi as a Koldyke Fellow for his efforts to empower Iraqi teenagers with the skills needed to become active, responsible citizens within a society still reeling from conflict.

Mr. Hadi is the regional director of the Spacetoon Regional Office in Jordan, from where he broadcasts to the entire region. Spacetoon Kids TV is an Arabic cartoon channel launched in 2000 reaching 22 countries and 50 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa. The Jordan office is the only regional office responsible for developing humanitarian-specific educational programs and campaigns.

A key aim of Spacetoon Kids TV’s broadcasting is to address the challenges facing children, caused by the conflict in Iraq. Spacetoon Kids has addressed numerous social and development issues, including children's education, landmine risk education, children's rights and protection, healthcare and hygiene, and nutrition. In 2008, Spacetoon Kids won the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting Regional Prize and competed in the global finals in New York. One of the most innovative programs produced by Mr. Hadi is called, Salam Shabab, or Peace Youth. It is a reality TV show for Iraqi youth, ages fourteen to eighteen. Now in its second season, Salam Shabab is designed to empower a wide range of Iraqi teens with the skills and values needed to become active peacebuilders in their communities. 

In addition, Mr. Hadi developed a unique animated series called Diamond Island. The purpose of the project is to promote the tolerance of Islam in relation to other religions and to build bridges between Muslim kids and young people of other faiths around the world. The project received the approval of highly respected Muslim and Christian leaders in the region.

In 2000, Mr. Hadi left Iraq to work as a film animator and editor in Jordan to avoid an order to work for the Ministry of Youth and Sport under the son of Saddam Hussein. With the fall of the Saddam Regime, Mr. Hadi returned to Iraq where he established the Spacetoon Kids TV office in Baghdad. Despite Spacetoon Iraq’s successes, in 2006, he was forced to flee again, after being held hostage by gunmen while Spacetoon’s offices were looted.

Mr. Hadi believes that, “our children are in need of awareness and encouragement to give them the self-confidence to confront the difficult and uncertain conditions of today’s world. We make sure that they receive what they need in the right way.” Mr. Hadi will spend a week in Chicago from March 30 to February 3, 2012, to exchange ideas about educational programming in the media, peacebuilding, and nonprofit management with civic, media, business, and academic leaders. The fellowship experience will aid him in his goal of strengthening free and responsible media that works to reduce conflict and poverty and ensure equality for all. The fellowship is designed to provide him with perspectives on our city’s best practices that will enable him to effect meaningful and sustained change in Iraqi society. Mr. Hadi’s week in Chicago will include a major public address for The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship is funded by the Koldyke family to recognize a social entrepreneur between the ages of thirty and forty-five who is working to transform his or her society through innovative solutions to pressing educational problems and inadequacies. This year, the selection committee focused on social entrepreneurship in primary and secondary education in Iraq. The 2011 Fellow, Mr. Hassam A. Hadi, was selected from a large and extremely competitive applicant pool.