Help is needed immediately

Oct 14, 2019 | Eaglewatch in Iraq, Great job, Livestock, Stories of survivors

I will start the second part of the report from our visit to Iraq by completing the previous article.

In a few words, I will tell you a story of one of the families which last year received livestock from us. Gawri and her children – two daughters and three sons – currently live in Khanke, in a small house on the outskirts of town. A tragic story of her daughter Shahad circulates in the Yazidi community as a symbol of suffering and despair. The girl was for months held hostage by ISIS terrorists. One day she managed to escape from the house of the terrorist who kept her captive. She was underfed and sick, but she made an attempt to get back home, to her mother and siblings. She knew she could pay for this with life. After few days of walking, she got back with her family. Unfortunately, she spent merely several hours with her beloved mother and siblings. Extremely exhausted, she died in a hospital.

However, that is not the end of the family’s tragedy. Gawri’s husband and several other of her closest family members were murdered by ISIS or they have not been heard from for a long time. This most probably means they will never come back. The woman’s oldest son was trained by jihadists to become a terrorist. He was forced to read the Quran, brainwashed into hatred and taught aggression. Although he is back at home with his family, he still tends to behave aggressively towards his younger brother and has no ability to control himself.

They should not be here.

Apart from the main reason behind our trip which I mentioned two days ago, we had several other places to visit. We already provided help to two of them. We went to see the results, and in the Zawita Camp’s case – which I will write about in a while – also to help again. During Bartek’s last stay in Iraq, doctor Krzysztof Blecha (from Children Help Foundation in Zywiec) financed the purchase of cleaning products for the families that live there. He also left the funds for the purchase of 28 fire extinguishers used for example for fires caused by electrical equipment. Tent fires, often caused by overheating and a generally poor condition of installations, are very common in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). It is enough to recollect a situation from May last year when in one of them in Khanke a 17-year-old girl died. There have been several fires this year again, and in the largest one 19 tents were burned down.

Ramy, our eyes and ears here, took us to a shop where we bought fire extinguishers. We threw them into the car boot and drove down the narrow, mountainous road to Zawita. The camp tents, which lie at the foot of the mountain, are covered with fine, beige dust. When you touch them, their texture feels like paper – a result of being used for five years. As we were ready to leave, Ramy told us the whole mountain under which the camp is placed is full of landmines from the time of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Many children live in such conditions. When we asked about the toilet, one of the residents took us to a plastic container where there was not even running water. It is not a problem for a male who wants to use it once. But women and children are the main residents of the Zawita camp.

The sight of the crowd of women with their small children was one of those I will remember for a long time. I was happy that we brought them help. I am aware that fire safety measures are extremely important for families living in camp tents. However, I was really sorry because of what I saw. I felt guilty for the situation they have found themselves in. Not personally, but as a person from Europe – this same Europe which on any occasion tries to prove that it fights for minority rights and equality for all. But will anyone ever speak up for these people?

Even though I am not a journalist, I need to report the details of the whole action of supplying the camp with fire extinguishers. The camp’s authorities and our friend Ramy organized everything perfectly. The firefighters arrived to provide training on how to use the extinguishers. Then each family received a piece of equipment. We only hope that they will never find themselves in a life-threatening situation and that they will never have to use them.

They helped others, now they need help themselves.

Before our visit to Zawita, we went to Avzrouk. It is a small village not far from the border with Syria, where in 2014 two hundred refugees from, among others, Sinjar and Bashiqi found shelter. In one church in Avzrouk they were offered a hall and a presbytery in order to allow them to live in decent conditions. Many were taken under the roof of local families where for more than three years they were treated like family members. When their towns were liberated and the situation allowed, they went back to their homes. But the generator which was the only source of electricity for the whole community got overloaded during those three years and broke down.

We learned about the locals’ honorable attitude and their problem from one of our friends. He shyly asked if we were able to help them. It took us a while to collect the money, but finally we managed to get the necessary amount. The generator was repaired and the residents received an acknowledgment for help they provided to others. In the end we received an invitation for dinner, which we gladly accepted.

Give a hand and help to get up off knees.

We also visited several other places where our little contribution helped people spread their wings. The first one was a stationery shop in Duhok. It is difficult to categorize this place. Apart from books, notebooks, markers and pencils it also provides mobile phones, chargers and other such things. It is some kind of a kiosk which is located in a stationary building. It looks great, as you can see yourself in the pictures.

The little room is filled with all sorts of articles. Its owner designed the place itself. He also made wooden shelves storing many useful little things. It is obvious that he is a very talented person and he will get on very well.
The next stop was the Kabarto camp. Several months ago we received a request for help from Faroq, one of the camp’s residents, who wanted to open a little shop. Bartek visited him in August. A few days ago I also paid him a visit. Faroq has two wonderful sons, whom he wants to provide with a better future.
At the end I would like to say a few words about the people whom we do not mention very often. You know us – we have had a chance to meet many of you personally during various meetings and crowd fundings. Our reports can help you get familiar with people who receive our help. You see their faces on the pictures, you read about their stories. You do not, however, know much about people who provide help. About the foundations, organizations and volunteers with whom we cooperate locally. I would like to dedicate the next article to them. Today I will only mention one situation.
Sometimes in the evening we sit down with our Iraqi friends to a meal, a tea, and sometimes – I will not hide it – we have something stronger to drink. Usually we stay over in their houses so we are their guests. And they go out of their way to treat us. We tell them stories about Poland, our culture, our families, and they tell us about themselves, their joys and sorrows. One evening Shamo took us to a little garden near the Khanke camp. It is their local ‘bar’. A simple tent, a few tables and chairs and a little lamp overhead are the only furnishings. His friends were there. None of them was older than 30. They all spoke very good English. One works in a hospital as a nurse, the other one is a soldier, and the third one a teacher. We felt like we were in a group of friends. We laughed and joked around. It was a different world from the one we were in several hours earlier. I asked them about their plans and dreams. Those young men only cared about their dear ones. They did not worry about themselves, but about their community. They said they knew another genocide was just around the corner. When it will happen is just a matter of time: maybe in 5, 10 or 15 years. And in the context of what has been recently happening in Syria, I assume that when it happens, the world will once again turn its eyes away.

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