We had been living in Sinjar for 6 generations. Our home was our grandfather’s grandfather’s home. I went to school and I would spend my days playing with my friends.
It was the 3rd of August. It was very hot. I was 12 years old when ISIS came. When we heard they were coming we tried to flee. I was so afraid. Their cars were so fast. They made a circle around our village so that no one could escape. They destroyed everything – our home, my father’s shop, we lost it all. They took the women to one side and the men to the other. They split up our family and they took one of my uncles. We still don’t know where he is.
At one point we saw only one ISIS man was guarding us. When he was distracted, we saw our chance to escape. We left everything and ran for the mountains. We took no food, nothing. We didn’t even take our ID. We just ran because it was the only opportunity to save our lives.
We spent a week hiding in the mountains, but we had no food or water, so we decided to go to a village. When we got there, ISIS had set a trap to capture everyone who had escaped. We hid in a house and saw them rounding everyone up into big vans and trucks. ISIS took 136 people that day. When I remember all the things that happened I feel so bad.
When I heard that Tutapona helped others, I decided to go. The program was so good, it taught me things I didn’t understand before. I learned about helping people, like taking care of my father and mother and doing things that help me grow stronger. The most important thing I learned from GROW was forgiveness.
I needed to forgive everything that happened, but first I needed to forgive myself.
Now I have a hope for my future. I want to finish school so I can work with my father in the sugar business. My father had a shop in Sinjar, so I want to go back to Sinjar to join in rebuilding our village. That is our place. That is our country. We belong there. I want to go back to Sinjar to finish my father’s work.
After coming to Tutapona, the hate in my heart for ISIS has become a lot less. The burning in my heart has gone down.
I am healed.
-Sami* and Family
*Name & images may have been changed to protect the individual & his family.