The summary of the project of the purchase of livestock
In December, when we went to Iraq last time, we visited some of the families that we provided with livestock.
We asked them several questions to make a short summary and to find out how support in this form has affected their lives. We always emphasize that the most important for us is to act in agreement with potential beneficiaries of our help. This is one of our principles and we will not change it.
So far this has been our largest project implemented in Iraq. Hence, we would like the beneficiaries to assess if our goals were fully achieved.
When Bartek together with Minister Beata Kempa, was visiting places such as the children oncological center in Duhok and resettlement camps for Christians, me and Karolina – our volunteer – as well as Shamoo and Laith (who I think knows everyone in Khanke) went to see the families.
The works were still ongoing, so we visited the first 23 families that had already received the animals. The project was half-way, but the results were already visible.
We built some of the crofts to share between several families – usually two or three – living close to each other. The families living further away will have a single shelter for their little herds. When I say “we”, I mean the volunteers from the Shengal Charity Organization, who, despite the pouring rain, were building the crofts one after another. They would interrupt their work only when the alleys between the houses were impassable due to the river of mud.
As we have already mentioned many times, there is no need for us to generate extra costs by bringing our own people to Iraq to do the work. And for sure we do not aim at set photos showing us with rolled-up sleeves carrying bricks. There is no labor shortage over there, not to mention that collective work strengthens solidarity between the locals. And they did a great job.
There were two main goals of the project.
The first one was to enrich the diet with eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt. It is very important, especially that there are small children in most of the families.
The second goal – even though at first glance it was not that obvious – was of therapeutic value. Why? According to our assumption, owning a small herd brings great responsibilities. And thanks to these responsibilities apathy is replaced with hope.
There are eight of us. I live with my son’s family. These animals help me forget what we went through. When I look after them and feed them, when I clean, I allow my thoughts to run away from that tragedy.
I worry about the fate of my husband and sons from whom we haven’t heard from till today. There is no job here that I could do. My neighbors are helping me. These animals are all I’ve got.
In the past, we owned a large herd of sheep. We would produce 200 liters of milk a day. I know how to look after animals. I am very glad I received help in such a form. I try to hold on and sometimes I even smile.
Since I received the animals, I am sometimes able to suppress longing for my loved ones. No one in my family can work. I have not received any news about my four sons, two daughters and my husband.
During our meeting with one family, we heard a story which will stay in our memory for a long time. We have heard many of them and every single time they stir emotions when recollected.
Laith asked if I knew the story of Shaheer. It is a story famous among Yazidis about a girl who was held captive by Daesh for two years. She was a daughter of the woman we had just spoken to.
After Shaheer managed to escape from ISIS, she returned back home. But she spent merely one night with her family. The next day her mother took her to the hospital. She died the following night. Her body was so exhausted that it was impossible to save her. She was 16 years old.
Laith showed us a video from the hospital where Shaheer asks for support for her family. She talks about her captivity and escape.
For someone who has spent the last years as a refugee – far away from home – the everyday routine in the form of feeding and looking after the animals restores dignity and strengthens the sense of self-esteem.