My name is Afran*. I was living in Sinjar with my family as a high school student when we heard ISIS was coming, so the next day we decided to leave Sinjar mountain.
It was the worst feeling ever. The last time I saw one of my closest friends, he was riding a bicycle. I couldn’t contact my friends before we fled, many people didn’t bring phones. We left everything – we had to just run away. I didn’t know what happened to anyone until I arrived in Khanke.
ISIS captured 3 of my friends from school. They were my best friends, we always talked together.
One of them is a girl. She was taken by ISIS as slave. They didn’t kill her and she managed to escape eventually. My two friends who were boys were killed. One of them was stuck on the mountain for a week. ISIS surrounded him and his family, took them, and killed them all.
We had a small car, so we decided to bring my uncle’s pick-up truck and divide our family between them. There were 40 people in the two vehicles. It took one hour to get to the Syrian border, but when we arrived, we learned the situation was not good. When we learned there was no way to get into Syria, we had to come back. So, we came to Khanke camp.
After we came to the camp my feelings were so negative. I had to start looking for work. We didn’t have anything but our clothes. We had to just continue our lives. We could not do anything more.
It was a struggle for us. Men are supposed to be strong, but I could not be strong. I had a problem. I was always down. I didn’t have any information about what happened to all the other families in Sinjar. I was totally out of control.
A friend of mine went to the GROW program and he told me it was so helpful to him. I listened to his advice and I found it so helpful. It gave me the opportunity to get help.
Before, I only had 25% hope to continue my life. But after spending the first week with Tutapona, they changed the way I saw the world. They gave me a hope. After Tutapona helped me, I realized how much I really needed it.
I learned about acceptance in GROW. Before I didn’t fully accept what had happened to me. Learning to accept was so hard. Tutapona helped me learn to accept, to leave the past behind and learn from it.
After ISIS came, I was not believing in anything. But Tutapona helped me to believe in hope again. They helped me to change my negative feeling to a positive feeling. They helped me change my life.
Because I was able to get help from Tutapona, I decided I can help other people to get help too.
I am now in my 3rd year of University studying psychology. My hope is to finish college and be a therapist and help other people the same way.
Now I have a hope to make my life better and to change the life of those around me. Through this hope I can bring hope to others who need it.
*Name has been changed to protect the individual and his family