IRAQI KURDISTAN: Under their own grapevines and fig trees


4 December 2012
IRAQI KURDISTAN: Under their own
grapevines and fig trees

by Kathy Moorhead

will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees,
for there will be nothing to fear. -Micah

One year ago we first met the children of
Sunneh village. CPT Iraqi Kurdistan visited them in Gojar camp where they fled
with their families during the insistent shelling of the summer and autumn of
2011. Their school had been damaged by the neighboring country’s military bases sitting high up on the mountain ridges
overlooking the village. We heard stories of children waking every night with
nightmares. Their faces and minds were stressed from life in the tent camp.


20 November 2011 was the celebration of International Children’s Day. UNICEF organised a commemoration
at the school. They wanted the children to know they had not been forgotten. Damages
to the building had been repaired, and it had a new coat of pink paint. Inside,
the walls were decorated with balloons, tinsel and many drawings and paintings
by the children. The striking thing was that many of the drawings showed signs
of what the children had experienced in the previous months. There were planes
and helicopters dropping bombs onto small villages. One showed a small animal
running from the shells. 

Fast forward to November 2012. CPT Iraqi
Kurdistan has kept in contact with the school. We have shared their stories in
the form of a report
and a video. Many of
the students recognize the team members and look forward to our monthly visits.
This summer their lives have been free from fleeing bombardment. For an unknown
but welcome reason, Iran and Turkey have allowed the villagers to live a normal
life throughout the entire growing season. Gardens were planted, grew and were
harvested. Goats and sheep were pastured. Children gained another year in age
and grew in maturity.


The school was decorated again. The balloons and tinsel were back. So were the artistic talents of the students. As the team admired the paintings and drawings, something new was striking. The art depicted village life: the mountains, the big sky, herds of animals, planting and harvesting, playing and living. Not one showed a bomb or a shell. The only evidence of a plane was a large passenger jet with lots of round windows for passengers to enjoy the view. The young students were joyous, and danced and celebrated just being children.

For this moment in time, the children of
Sunneh and their parents are able to live under their vine and fig tree without
fear. Our prayer is that this will be forever. However, the new white trailer brought
in as an Internally Displaced Persons camp still waits just a little way down
the road. And on 8 November, in the same Pishdar region, two Kurdish civilians
were killed and two wounded by Turkish planes
far inside the Iraqi Kurdistan


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