After losing everything, Iraq’s children are learning that… “We Must Stick Together”

by | Mar 23, 2020 | Stories of Impact

When Da’esh said: Convert to Islam or be killed, Shirveen and her family lost everything. 

She was only 12 when the Islamic terrorist group known as Da’esh invaded her village.  Her family and the other Christians in her village had only 48 hours to leave their homes or face life under Da’esh.

Overnight, her world changed.
Before Da’esh, Shirveen went to school and played with everyone in the village.  There were Christians, Shabak, Turkmen, Muslims, and children from many other ethnic backgrounds and faith communities. 

Life was not easy, but she had never feared her neighbors before. Da’esh wanted to change that.  
“When Daesh invaded, we were displaced,” she recalled. “The conditions were quite severe, and we didn’t have a place to take refuge in.”
Shirveen and her family traveled several miles to reach Ankawa, a Christian neighborhood of Erbil in the capital of Kurdistan. They weren’t alone.  Their road was lined with thousands of other families fleeing on foot for refuge.
In 2018, after four long years of being refugees in their very own country, towns and villages were finally liberated and families could now return to their homes.
Shirveen’s family was able to return back to Hamdaniya.
“When we first returned, we only saw burned houses,” she said. “We were very upset, and there was nobody left in our neighborhood.”
Her family did their best to rebuild what they had lost and Shirveen returned to school.  But her fears remained. Would Da’esh return? Could she trust people who believe like them? Was she safe anywhere in her country? At school, the fear and uncertainty filled the air. Her classmates seemed timid and afraid; it was as if they had forgotten how to engage one another.
Fortunately, Ms. Nariman, Shirveen’s new teacher was prepared. She wanted to help them overcome their fears and help them rebuild a sense of trust within their classrooms and communities.
Earlier that year, before the schools reopened, Ms. Nariman had received training from Hardwired.   She learned how to help students overcome their fears and misconceptions about each other by integrating lessons on pluralism and the freedom of religion into their curriculum.
When her school re-opened, Ms. Nariman was ready.  She shared the exciting news that a few of their classes would be studying to perform a play about how to live together in peace with people believe or look different from them.
Shirveen was so excited! She could not wait to be a part of this production. Even her classmates were thrilled to participate in the play.
As the students prepared and practiced, the play helped them to open up about their experiences with one another and work through their trauma. 

It taught them how to work together and how to respect one another.  And most importantly, it gave them hope. 
Shirveen shared, “Despite [the past conflict], we must stick together. we have forgiveness and love between us, and peaceful coexistence should happen. This message must reach everyone.”
When Shirveen’s class performed the play for their parents and community, their message of hope for a brighter future in their small community filled the room and inspired everyone.  

When you donate to Hardwired, you are putting a teacher – a Defender of Freedom – into this situation to help Shirveen overcome her fear of others and find hope after a great loss.  

Thank you for making it possible for children to live without fear, side by side with their neighbors.  You’re giving schools, families and communities hope in a brighter tomorrow where peace will prevail.
And you’re helping us do this one child, one teacher, one school, and one community at a time.