Supporting IDP families in Northern Iraq

In 2014 this Yazidi family were at home in the town of Sinjar when they heard explosions and gunshots. They went outside to see what was going on, and saw everyone running. Terrified, they also ran with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Most of the people from Sinjar town fled to the mountains. Many vulnerable people died on the way, and many more died in the mountains as there was no water and no food.

This family is made up of two parents, the grandmother and six children, one of which was a newborn baby when our partners discovered them. However, they also took in four other orphaned children. They did not have enough to feed their own children, but they had the compassion to care for four extra children aged 4 – 15 whose mother died of dehydration in the Sinjar mountains. Their father disappeared a few years ago and they think he was killed by Al Quaeda. They had no one else to care for them.

When they arrived in Dohuk, Iraq, there was nowhere to stay as hundreds of thousands of IDP’s arrived at that time when IS took Mosul, Sinjar and other surrounding areas. People were sheltering anywhere they could including under bridges, in car parks and unfinished buildings. The only place they could find to shelter was this animal shed. The roof leaked when it rained. There were no windows, and you can see that there is no door – just a tarpaulin. This is a high altitude area where temperatures dropped to -11 degrees over the new year weekend and they had snow. They had a newborn baby, and a number of the children had no shoes or winter clothes until our partner distributed our winter aid there.

This family were missed by all the other aid agencies. The only way that they survived until now is because of the compassion of a Christian woman who lives nearby who was also an IDP. However, this women was unable to support a family of this size as she was struggling herself. They were so moved by her kindness that they have named their newborn baby after this woman. In any culture it is an honour to name your baby after another person, but for these Yazidis to name their baby after a Christian woman takes that honour to a different level. They may be ostracised by other Yazidis for choosing to give their daughter a Christian name. This family had nothing else with which they could thank this woman for her kindness.

When our partner went to distribute our winter aid to this family, he was distraught by their story, the conditions they were living in and how little food they had. He bought a large tarpaulin with his own money to put over their roof to keep the rain from coming in. Over the winter we supplied them with monthly food provisions and winter fuel to help them keep warm.

Every penny donated to us goes directly to providing support for the people we are helping, whether buying food locally, shipping aid from the UK to the Middle East, or providing medical aid in Syria. We are all volunteers, and cover our own expenses which enables us to spend the money we raise on the intended cause.