Bizan*"I hope to be a teacher and help people and this nation the way that I have been helped by Tutapona."
“Before ISIS came, life was so good in Sinjar. I was in my last year of high school. My whole family was there. My father and mother, 2 sisters and 2 brothers. Everything was fine. But when ISIS came a lot of things changed.
They first came to take South Sinjar and they took a lot of people. The army didn’t have a lot of weapons – they didn’t have the power to stop ISIS. The people knew they were going to go to the North next. When we got a call and were told there was a group of terrorists coming and taking people and killing people I was feeling afraid inside. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew we could not stay or we’d be killed like the others.
It was 9 in the morning. That’s when we fled to the mountains.
We used my uncle’s car. It was a very small car. There were 12 people inside that car. We didn’t know how to fit everyone. There was a person in the back of the car even. We didn’t take any food. None. We didn’t take anything. We just drove slow, slow up the mountain. [At the top] we stopped the car. My uncle and I decided to go out to look for food because it would be a long journey to Khanke.
My uncle’s friend who was fighting ISIS called us and said the Peshmerga army would help us get out of Sinjar. They saved all the 12 people in our car. If the Peshmerga didn’t save us, we could have been stuck there for days without water or bread.
ISIS and the Arab locals who were working with them were shooting at us as we tried to escape but the Peshmerga fought back.
There was no where to hide. We could only go the one way – straight.
I saw 4 people shot. The Peshmerga didn’t stop until ISIS was killed, surrendered, or ran away.
When we saw that the Peshmerga was not running away and that they stayed fighting to save us, I felt like there was life again. There was someone actually fighting for us, someone who will not leave us alone.
I have two aunts – one living in Sharia and one living in Khanke. My father went directly to Khanke to check on his sister, but we went with my mother went to his brother’s home in Sharia. We spent our first night there then we decided to come to Khanke.
The local people did everything to help us. They came with bread, oranges, biscuits, water, and anything they had. They opened their homes, even if it was just one or two rooms, for people to stay the night. They said, ‘It is your house.’ These people saved a lot of people those first two nights. I will never forget that.
When we first came to Khanke I was afraid and nervous. Then we heard ISIS was threatening to come to Duhok [where Khanke is]. So again, we were feeling shocked and afraid. We left and went to Zakho where a family opened their home for us to stay. I slept in the garden until morning and we felt safe there. They even gave us clothes.
We spent three days in Zakho. We said if ISIS would come here, we would go to Turkey. But thank God that didn’t happen. Then we got a call saying it is safe in Khanke, so we came back.
We were in Khanke with 6 other families in one house. Then when we found some tents inside the camp, we came to live here.
After about 40 days, when me and my brother were in the streets we heard that some tents had been burned. Not knowing if it was our tent, my brother went back to check. All of our tents had been burned. My 14 year old cousin was killed by the fire inside one of them. She couldn’t get out. I couldn’t get that out of my mind when I found out that happened to her.
I always felt so alone and there was a lot of hate and a big hurt in my heart. My mental health was so bad. My friends would try to help but no one could. I couldn’t talk or do anything. Then one of my friends said there was a program about mental health in the camp that could help. He said they help take all the hate and hurt in the heart and turn it to something good. So, I decided to go to the Grow program.
Tutapona gave me a hope and so much courage. After I went through the Grow program, I learned that I couldn’t stay in the same place, I needed to move. I decided to continue my life. I felt better and it really changed me and helped me a lot. They pulled me out of my situation and made me better.
Even though ISIS destroyed my school, last year I finished high school. I hope to be a teacher and help people and help this nation the way that I have been helped by Tutapona.
They gave me a hope. I don’t know what I could do for them to thank them – they helped me so much.”
*Name has been changed to protect the individual.and his family
Because of the generosity of others, Bizan is now a light in his family and his community. BUT there are thousands of people just like Bizan with stories that are yet to end with hope. Help Tutapona bring hope & healing by donating to the #40ThousandLights campaign & help us bring light to 40 Thousand more lives, homes & communities.