Helping brings me joy [Interview with Shamoo]

Apr 6, 2020 | Stories of survivors, Video

This is an interview with Shamoo, the volunteer of the Shengal Charity Organization, which we have been collaborating with for almost three years.

Shamoo is a very humble man with a huge heart. The only thing that matters to him is helping others, and this, as he says, brings him great satisfaction. He loves football and he has a real talent for it. If it wasn’t for the ISIS’ incursion, who knows what turn his career would have taken. For the last five years, he has been occupied with bringing help to those in need.

Helping brings me joy [Interview with Shamoo]

Dawid Czyz: Many people in Poland who support us have already heard about you. I have mentioned your name several times when talking about our joint activities. You were featured in one of our YouTube video episodes. Please tell us a bit about yourself, in case some of our viewers have not watched it.

Shamoo Salih Ali: My name is Shamoo. I come from Sinjar. I am a Yazidi. Currently, I live in Khanke in camp for internally displaced persons. I have been working as a volunteer for the Shengal Charity Organization [SCO] and the Eaglewatch Foundation, for three and two years respectively. With the Eaglewatch team, we have met several times. I am very happy with my work for charity organizations. If I can help people, especially women, children, and orphans who survived ISIS captivity, it gives me pleasure. I feel very good when I do that.

On the 3rd of August 2014, ISIS attacked you [the Yazidis]. At the time, you and your relatives were living in your family house in Sinjar.

I remember that day of the 3rd of August 2014, when we were attacked by ISIS. On that day, we were in our family village in the south of Sinjar. Two hundred families lived in our village at the time. When ISIS attacked us in 2014, we all fled to the mountains. We spent eight days there. We received no humanitarian or medical help. We had no food or water. It was an insane situation. Sometimes I feel sick when I recollect those days. At the time, many Yazidi volunteers stood to fight against ISIS and did not allow them to break into the villages, even after the locals fled. Many Yazidi fighters lost their lives on that border fighting ISIS. In the mountains, we had neither water nor food. Children were crying of hunger and thirst. My older brother Murad decided to go to the village of Snuni which was controlled by ISIS. He said, “I will go there even if I won’t be able to come back.” Otherwise, our children will die of hunger or thirst. He managed to break into the village controlled by ISIS. He brought some food for children, some tea and water. He told us that when they [a small group] reached the village of Snuni, the terrorists showed up. They approached them and tried to kill them. But he survived… Like in a movie. It was a horrible moment.

Incredible sacrifice and courage. Was that what happened a huge surprise for you?

My mother was ill and at the time and she was feeling bad because she didn’t take her medicines with her. They were left behind at home when we were fleeing to the mountains. We thought we would spend a day in the mountains and then come back. We didn’t expect it would be such a huge war.

Currently, like thousands of Yazidis from Sinjar, you are living in Khanke near Duhok. A huge camp for internally displaced persons has been built here. It must have been difficult for you at the beginning?

We came and settled down here. At the time, there were eleven of us and we had only one tent. We only shared our meals in that tent because there was no space for all of us to sleep inside. It was a difficult situation. During the day we were staying outside and we were gathering there again in the evening. My brother Khalaf decided to establish a charity organization. He named it Shengal Charity Organization, or SCO. The name refers to the region we are from.

Sinjar is well-known. We wanted to include it in the name of our foundation. At the beginning, it was all very difficult. We were strangers here, we didn’t know anyone. Getting started was slow. Our first action was the purchase of eight blankets. We received them from one person and delivered them to orphaned children. I remember it like it was yesterday. I will always remember it. It was our first meeting. Thank God, we met Bartek [Rutkowski] and the Eaglewatch Foundation. We started cooperating, and now we can help people even more, we can implement larger projects. We are very grateful for that. The cooperation with the Eaglewatch is our pleasure.

We have twice implemented the project of providing farm animals. We have provided them to the poorest families. 190 families received the animals. [The project was divided between two foundations. Altogether, 260 families received the animals – note David Czyż]. Two goats, two sheep and four hens per each family together with crofts and forage. That’s the story of our foundation. Obviously, it is longer, but I’ve only told a part of the story.

What do you think is the future of the Yazidis?

In the future I hope – although it’s merely a hope – that everything will be fine and we will be able to go back to our land. We feel better over there than here. It’s our ancestral land. We were all born there. It is our land, not the one here.

You have met several Poles. We have been cooperating for quite some time. What is your impression of Poland and the Poles?

We want to thank you and the Poles. They are kind and wonderful people. I’ve got around ten friends from Poland and I appreciate it a lot. These moments when I can meet you are particularly important to me. I always remember that the Poles are our strength. First, the Eaglewatch which is our main strength, and then the Poles that are the Eaglewatch’s strength. It is very nice. I love the Polish people. I would like to pass my greetings and appreciation for all the help we have received from them. It’s a huge help. Like us, the Poles have experienced genocide, they understand our situation. They survived the genocide during the World War II.

I recorded the interview with Shamoo a few hours before our departure to Erbil which happened earlier than we expected due to the closure of roads between the provinces of the Iraqi Kurdistan. Luckily, everything ended well.

Currently, despite the coronavirus threat Shamoo and the SCO team are still working and helping the poorest families. We handed over funds to them for the purchase of food and cleaning products for a hundred families living in wild encampments in Khanke.

Author: Dawid Czyż

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