1 December 2016 – Al Khazir Refugee Camp
My visit to Erbil and the many refugee camps changed my life immeasurably. It humbled me, it showed me the real faces of courage in all the eyes that met mine, in children, adults and the very old, I felt a sense of calm resignation, relief and even happiness.
Yes, it sounds very strange to an American that people living in such desperate straits could find this peace, this sense of happiness, yet that is what I felt from everyone I met. Don’t get me wrong there was sadness, desperation, grief, confusion, all those things one would expect from war victims, something I probably would never have survived. I marveled at their resilience.
I wanted to hear from them, understand what they had been through, although I will never really understand it, one must live it to really understand. I felt drawn to listen and so I walked around and randomly stopped to ask, “tell me your story, if you can…give me information that I can share, something I can write to tell the world who you are and what you went through.”
Fredosz told me, “we came 1 month ago when the camp opened, there is no school here for the children.” Then pensive, she started relaying the night of their escape………….. “we were under attack, from the Iraqi Army and ISIS combined, it was evening and we suddenly had to choose and quick, ISIS was no more than 150 meters away, the Iraqi Army was no more than 150 meters away, my daughter here is Huda, only 2 years old and Yasser here is 7 months, we are altogether 5 people.”
“Of course, we chose to go to the Iraqi Army and used a Hummer as cover to escape the 150 meters, praying for safety. We are some of the fortunate ones, we made it and were taken to a school for waiting evacuation.” She stood, placidly relaying this information, it seemed to spill out of her and she began coughing. I waited, she continued crying, “men smoking were killed for it, girls without proper cover were beaten, some so severely they died, if you did something wrong you would lose your arm…men had to wear Capri trousers like they did in Mohammad’s time.”
She had such a vacant look on her face and still crying, she simply walked away. My mind was all but vacant, how do we as a species not treat each other with respect and dignity, how do we sit and think it is someone else’s problem, or there are so many organizations out there to help, what can we do?
Help can be as simple as spreading the word or as hard as fighting for human rights for all people. Be kind, teach kindness and remember we are all one people, no matter our differences, our color, our religion, we all come from the same place. Visit bringhope.info to learn more about our work and their needs, please.