My name is Mandy Dhiab, a 23 year old musician. I originally come from Malaysia, but I was born, raised and lived in Iraq. Ever since I was young, my family suffered. My father and mother left Baghdad, to go and work up north in Kirkuk, and my sister and I had to stay with our grandparents for years, giving us a chance to see our parents only once a month. They worked for three dollars only; we even used to split the Pepsi bottle that we buy every few months. Being raised by my grandfather, gave me and opportunity to learn piano, because my grandfather used to play and we had an acoustic piano. Music was all I had at that time, and my grandfather, I remember whenever I was sad or missing my parents, he tells me to stay positive. Years passed and my grandpa passed a way, my parents moved back to Baghdad and work started to get better, that’s when I started to write songs. After years of recording music and songs with my father, I knew it was my goal to be a professional Iraqi singer and make my country proud. After I attended college, I was so happy to see the effect of my music on other girls, and how they were inspired to go after their dreams. It was very dangerous to sing and play in public, but after I represented Iraq in the 12th annual festival in Egypt, I felt so proud and so thrilled to show them that Iraq stood still despite the circumstances it faced. Music became my life, I learned guitar, I rehearsed, I wrote more songs and I faced the many horrible life threatening notes and letters I received to build a road, so other young female musicians like me can make it to the top. I got so honored to be one of the speakers on TEDx, the conference that is held to show and tell stories about talented people that suffered a life of danger and struggle to make their country proud. I might not speak a perfect Arabic, I might descend from Malaysia and my songs are sang in English but this country made me the person that I am today and I'm proud to be and Iraqi and will always work hard to make it shine.
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