“I was living with my family. I had 1 brother, 3 sisters, my father and my mother. We were a small, happy family. Before ISIS came my life was stable. I completed high school and was in my first year studying in the college of nursing. When ISIS came, it was a very sad day.
When we escaped to Sinjar mountain it was very difficult for me. I saw a lot of other people with no food, no clothes. We didn’t have anything. We feared ISIS. That was the point that I was feeling very sad. I thought to myself that this was the end. I said to myself there would be no future after this. We stayed there for 7 days.
We were going to Syria, walking all the way. We didn’t have any food. I remember my weight was 65 kg (143 lb.) but after our journey with no food, my weight decreased to 58 kg (127 lb). It was so difficult because we walked for 7 days and there was sometimes fighting on the way. Bullets would be fired at us because when crossing into Syria, they didn’t know if we were refugees or someone else, so they would just shoot.
We stayed in a camp in Syria for two nights, but there was a lot of fighting at the Syrian border. We decided to come back to Kurdistan because it seemed safer and we could check on our relatives, to make sure they were OK.
We came directly to Khanke [Village] before the camp was ready. First to a school, it was full of people. People were everywhere in houses and buildings. It was impossible to find shelter. Everything was so difficult. The weather was difficult. There was no food. There were some organizations doing emergency response; they came to distribute some food, clothes, anything they could.
I was feeling exhausted from everything. I had so much anxiety. The situation was so bad. I just wanted to talk to someone; I couldn’t find anyone. When there was no one here to help me, my mental health got very bad. After 10 days, at 1 in the morning, I woke up and prepared my clothes. My parents asked me where I was going. I said I was going to Sulaymaniyah, that I couldn’t stay here anymore.
Jalil moved from city to city as ISIS threatened his safety. After multiple attempts to get help, change his situation, and attend college, he finally moved back to Khanke camp with his family.
My situation became very bad. Before GROW, I always had negative things in my mind. I thought I couldn’t have a future, even with college. Every day I would just sleep. It was all I could do. Now, I don’t sleep all day. I will do anything for my family. Before, if my father would wake up early and ask me to do something, I would say no and just sleep. But now, I wake up ready for anything.
This program helped my mental health become better, the problems become less. Tutapona taught me not only hope, but to believe in myself. Now I am trying to develop myself, like learning more English and computer skills that will help me get a good job.