Kurdistan, December 2014 - Shai Fund sent a team of aid workers and medical doctors into northern Iraq to assist the displaced persons that have fled ISIS. Working mostly in villages and camps with the minority groups from the Assyrian, Chaldean and Yezidi communities, much needed food aid and warm blankets were given out in bleak winter conditions. The medical team worked closely with the local Ministry of Health, to assist women and girls sexually abused by ISIS.
Many children fill the camps and make up the displaced numbers and it is these children in particular that I cannot forget...
The little girl living in a open unfinished building who held her hands together in glee, like a child that just received a magical Christmas present. This little girl was just happy to have food. Her entire family has been killed by ISIS. She is the lone survivor.
The boys that, though barely 10 years old, bravely helped drag the aid packets that were almost as heavy as they were home to their families. They helped form a human chain to unpack the aid with determination to be a part of their community.
Some of the children just sat next to the bags of food and placed their hands on the aid.
The children were clearly hungry.
The most heart wrenching cases were the girls that had been captured and managed to escape from ISIS. Used and abused sexually, we brought a team of gynecological doctors to care for these children. The youngest was 12 and most of them were around 12-16 years old. The doctors, gynecologists and obstetricians not only did the medical procedures but they trained 4 local doctors simultaneously. Some of these little girls, having survived sexual assaults and rape, now live in sprawling refugee camps.
Some of the villages surrounding the camps are also full of displaced families with children. One village of less that 70 families told me they woke up one morning and found hundreds of minorities (Christians, Yezidis and Shabak) collapsed in the village on the main road. They had walked from the Ninevah plains through the night to escape ISIS.
The Yezidis had escaped after 10 days hiding up on the Sinjar mountains without food and water. The local priest said many of the children were so dehydrated that they had bitten their tongues.
Working from Dohuk, in the Kurdish Region of Iraq, the Shai Fund team volunteers each day into medical and relief teams. The medical team worked at the local hospital while the relief team packed the aid and delivered it to the camps and the villages in the surrounding mountains. The trucks traveled back and forth all day as the team moved from one village or camp to the next one to deliver the much needed aid working through local grassroots initiatives.