When Samy was only eleven years old, the Islamic State terrorists (ISIS) took over his city.
Overnight, everything changed.
At his school, the terrorists brainwashed the boys with ideas of how to hate and kill others. Many of his friends were recruited to fight for them. Girls were forced to stay home.
Samy knew that this was wrong. So, for three long years he refused to go to school and hid at home with his sisters, waiting for someone to rescue them.
When Mosul was finally liberated, Samy and his sisters returned to school. But they could not escape the ideas of hate and intolerance ISIS had taught the other children. Every day, Samy and his sisters were bullied and attacked for not supporting ISIS.
Then, one day, his teacher invited him and several others to produce a play after school – a play called Fruitopia.
The play told the story of different “tribes of fruit” that had been attacked for their beliefs and identity. The tribes learned how to live together in peace by respecting one another’s freedom and dignity.
At first, when they met afterschool, Samy wasn’t sure how the other kids would treat him. But as they began to practice together, something changed for the better.
The play taught him that even though he may believe something different from the others in his school, the children should not be divided or mistreated. It taught him that he had a right to believe differently and that his rights should be respected. He became more confident.
I met Samy after he had performed in the play. He said,
“As we took on the identity of the fruit, we were no longer Christian, Muslim, and Yezidis – divided by our fear of ISIS and one another. We were oranges, pineapples, and other tribes of fruit – all seeking the freedom to live and believe in dignity.”
“As we practiced together, we began to understand that we are just like fruit – we are all the same on the inside and all deserve the same rights and freedoms.”
When they finished the play, the students gave a bow as the parents arose and cheered for them in a standing ovation. In that moment, you could feel the play’s message of hope resonate across the room. Parents’ faces were streaming with tears of happiness as they found what they had lost when ISIS came in – their ability to live with one another in dignity and peace.
The bad things – enmity and hatred – had changed! This community was united in their humanity and in love.
Fruitopia helped illustrate to a deeply divided and traumatized community what was possible when they embraced the dignity and freedom in each person.
Before we left Mosul that day, Samy shared, “I am beginning to believe that we don’t have to be afraid anymore. Even if we believe differently, we all deserve the same freedom to live in this world together.”
Samy wanted to overcome the hate and fear around him but he did not know how. That is where Hardwired’s unique teaching strategy has helped students like Samy develop new ways of thinking about the beliefs they have, and the need to honor the freedom of others.
When you donate to Hardwired, you are putting a teacher – a Defender of Freedom – into this situation to help Samy develop a value for religious freedom and overcome hate and intolerance in his community.
Thank you for helping us give Samy the opportunity to live out his religious freedom in this world