26 May 2016
Yazidi renewal in Iraqi Kurdistan
by Timothy Wotring
with Andrea Hickerson
[Note: This account
of the special CPT/Presbyterian Peace Fellowship delegation currently in Iraqi
Kurdistan has been adapted for CPTnet.
The original is available on the PPF
After our visit to Lalish, the Yazidis’ holiest place, we
spent Monday learning about community efforts to support the Yazidis after
their displacement and trauma at the hands of ISIS.
|“Goodness brings goodness.” – Nayf Sabry, Sunrise|
Our first stop was Sharya Internally Displaced Persons (IDP)
camp outside Dohuk. Sharya hosts 17,000 internally displaced people, most of
whom left their homes as ISIS advanced on their homes in Sinjar. ISIS notoriously killed thousands of Yazidi
men and boys and captured and enslaved thousands of women. Others fled to the
mountains where they stayed for seven to ten days before coming to Dohuk.
Nayf, 20, and his friends, were struck by the unfair burden
placed on Yazidi children. Growing up in a camp with their parents preoccupied by
their own trauma and securing basic needs, the children had opportunities for
In response, Nayf and some of his friends temporarily
dropped out of high school and started Sunrise, a non-politically affiliated
NGO. Members from Sunrise visited every family in the camp and invited their
children to attend extra-curricular events including movies, games and a field
trip to the mall.
Sunrise functions as a community center in a tent in the
middle of camp. Nayf and his friends are
eager to raise money to provide more infrastructure and entertainment
opportunities for the children of the camp.
They want to protect the right to childhood – a right he
himself was denied.
“If we don’t help each other, who would come?” he said.
|“I knew the Yazidi women were powerful and I wanted to help bring it out of them.” – Social Worker at Jinda|
In the afternoon we visited with Jinda, a women’s right
organization in Dohuk, IK.
Two years ago, Daesh (ISIS) devastated the Yazidi people’s
homes in Iraq and Syria and sexually abused and imprisoned girls and women.
Thousands fled their homes and became IDPs in Iraq-Kurdistan, outside of Duhok.
For the women who escaped the imprisonment of sexual abuse, some had to walk
for days without food or water until they reached the camp. The women arrived at
the IDP camp with PTSD among other forms of psychological and physical trauma.
Mobile groups from the organization Wadi would go to the camp, visit with these
women, and ask what they needed. Out of their needs, Wadi created the
organization Jinda, which means “new life.” Jinda offered a two-week
opportunity for therapy, a chance to learn life skills, and a resting place
outside of the camp.
Women and girls from ages six to forty-five have come to the
beautiful Jinda space. We learned that for the first few days, many of the
girls and women were distant and sorrowful, but by the end of the two weeks
they had opened up to one another. Even after the two weeks, Jinda continues to
keep in contact with those whom come seeing how else they might be of help.
Some of the trainees became trainers or helpers in the camps.
The women of Jinda were such an inspiration. They saw the
need in their community and addressed it head on. They also have helped to
fight Islamophobia because when the Yazidi girls and women were coming to
Jinda, they kept saying that Muslims had ruined their lives. Jinda staff, who
are Muslims, Christians, Turkmans, etc. had the opportunity to tell them that the
abuses they had endured were not a part of Islam. Jinda continues to host women
and girls for two weeks. May God bless them for it and may we bring an end to
gender-based violence and sexual abuse.
You can meet inspiring people like Nayf and the women of Jinda too! Check out our delegation schedule!