Bringing Christmas to the refugees
The following is my report of my last trip to the Middle East. With your help, we have brought hope and joy to some thousands of people.
In Istanbul, there were 580 people that we helped, all refugees from the war zones in Iraq and Syria. We gave them clothing, shoes, medicine, and money ($35 each). They were all elderly, sick, and single people. After that, in Iraq, in camp Ankawa near Erbil, we brought clothing, shoes, medicine, food parcels, and money to 800 people, $28,000 in total. During a short stop in al-Hasaka, Syria, we served 320 families with food packages. Those packages contained rice, flour, oil, sugar, dry milk, salt, and spices. We went back into Iraq, to camp Zakho and camp Kadya, where we gave mattresses and money to 410 people. After that, we travelled into the Sinjar mountains and brought hygiene products, soap, laundry detergent, warm blankets, and money for 371 people. After this, we went back to Mardin, Turkey, where we distributed food packages for 210 needy people (the value of each package was $45).
All of this happened in one week. Everywhere I went, the members of our local partners had everything prepared very well. They had made lists with the names of the neediest people. I felt like a jet, rushing from one place to the next. I came back to Germany very exhausted, happy, and sad at the same time. Happy, because we could help many people, and for the thankful expressions in their faces that were so beautiful. Sad, because we saw so many people still in need, who are desperate and have no help. Also, I again heard many terrible stories during my therapy sessions that went long into the night.
In camp Kadya, a 16-year old Yezidi girl told me about her 18-month captivity in ISIS. The things that were done to her are not even imaginable. Because she was beautiful, she was reserved for a commander. He, so she told me with a constant flow of tears, took many stimulating drugs, then raped her for hours, every day. When he had enough of her, he sold her to a fellow combatant, who was a pure sadist. He mutilated all of her body, and tried to ‘brand’ his name on her with a dagger. She finally escaped, after her family payed $8000 in ransom.
She said that she could not hold her head up anymore, that she has been stained and dishonored. The only good thing for her would be for the Yazidi community to show some understanding for her. The Baba Sheikh, the ‘pope’ of the Yazidis, called for those girls not to be discharged. If we would have been real men, so Baba Sheikh said, we wouldn’t have let the girls be taken away. He said, if a family had a problem with their daughter not being a virgin anymore, he would house them and take care of them personally.
A 19-year old Yezidi man also told me about his fate while he was, for one year, in the hands of ISIS. He was in a group of 19 young men who were all forced to convert to Islam, or face instant execution. Before the group was taken away, the ISIS henchmen asked his great-grandfather if he had relatives there. He said yes, and so, they forced him, with a gun to his head, to kill his great-grandfather. He was totally desperate and said to me, “How can I live on? I have killed my own great-grandfather with my own hands. I threw him into an oven with a big fire.” I asked him, if he had another chance? “No, my great-grandfather told me to do it, that he would be old enough. But how can I live on amongst those barbarians?”
On my way back, at Istanbul airport, I encountered something, that made me happy. At the destination board for departures, I met an elderly, cultivated man. Spontaneously, he smiled at me and said, “How terribly bitter is this world!” He reached into his coat pocket and gave me a candy and said, “But at least there is something sweet.” I asked him what he meant by this. “Thank God, I made the Haj (the pilgrimage to Mecca) twice, but I will not let my conscience be troubled. Because, what we do in Islam, then in history and until today is beyond all bearing. We expel, kill, slaughter people, and then we say, ‘’We are victorious!’’ We take their lands and properties and say, ‘’This is ours!’’ Overnight, we are victorious and rich. This is the worst. This is most unjust.”
I asked him if he knew the history. “Yes,’’ he said, ‘’I was a public officer in our capital, Ankara, for decades. I know history and all of this very well.” I asked him if a journalist came and asked him, would he dare to say all that in the open? “Yes, I have nothing left to lose, and I want at least to be honest at the end of my life. I want to enjoy my life in peace of mind.” He was flying to Jordan to take a vacation. I thanked him for his words. He was the first Muslim who spoke honestly about Islam, its ideologies, and its goals. Then we separated from each other, going to different boarding gates.
Dear friends, soon it will be Christmas. May the spirit of this event give you a wonderful time.
May God’s blessing be with you all,
Sister Hatune Dogan and Team
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