Holding a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, Bassam Al-Wachi uses his interdisciplinary knowledge to improve the nonprofit sector in Iraq. His nonprofit, Larsa, promotes peaceful coexistence among all Iraqis, respect for human rights, and a strong spirit of citizenship in the broader Iraqi community. To help ameliorate tensions in Iraq, Mr. Al-Wachi started an initiative that promotes conversations about cultural and religious diversity that lead to mutual understanding. His primary inspiration for this is his membership in the Chaldean Christian Church, a minority religion in Iraq that seeks to promote understanding of itself and other religions. In 2019, he visited Utah while participating in the International Visitor’s Leadership Program run by the United States State Department.
During Mr. Al-Wachi’s visit to Utah on the Promoting Interfaith Dialogue Program, he met with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discuss portraying faith and religion via social media. To Mr. Al-Wachi, the work the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does is both successful and unique. He saw the potential of social media in promoting interfaith dialogue in Iraq. Social media was a fast and reliable way to relay information and one that allowed for constant connection to interfaith dialogue. Upon Mr. Al-Wachi's return home, he began to integrate social media into his already running initiatives.
Mr. Al-Wachi helped the bishop of his Chaldean Catholic Church to launch the official website of the Basra & The South Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese in July 2021. This website offers information about the church via books, articles, movies, and recent news pertaining to the church. Overall, the site contributes to interfaith dialogue in Iraq by offering information about Christianity and its role within the country. Since the site’s launch, interest in the church and its programs improved and Mr. Al-Wachi attributes this to clear and effective social media.
In his home city, Basra, Mr. Al-Wachi is working to improve civil society so strong communities can form. His nonprofit, Larsa, promotes strong communities through its website, which raises awareness about volunteer opportunities, local organizations to participate in, and community surveys that take feedback on how to improve the greater-Basra community. Mr. Al-Wachi used the knowledge he gained in Utah to redesign the Larsa site and create a more appealing picture of community engagement.
While in Utah, participants in the Promoting Interfaith Dialogue program also attended an interfaith roundtable in Salt Lake City, ate dinner with local home hosts, observed the Utah State Legislature, and visited multiple non-profit organizations dedicated to interfaith dialogue in Utah. These activities created a strong bond between the participants and citizens of Utah- citizen diplomacy at work.
Mr. Al-Wachi is a shining example of devotion to minority rights and interfaith dialogue. As shown, he is excited to draw what he can from the success of religious institutions he is not a part of, and he works to protect the voices of religious communities in general. Through these efforts, Mr. Al-Wachi is strengthening civil society in Basra, and here at Utah Global Diplomacy, we wish him the best in continuing in that endeavor!