They Ran and Didn’t Turn Back

Yazidi Refugees, Disaster Relief


“In August 2014, my friends and I heard the sound of crying, shouts, and the shooting of guns, all mixed together,"*Shahid said.

“I just understood that they were shouting, 'Run, [the violent group] is coming! Leave Shangal as soon as possible. Don’t stop!"

Shahid was just 21 years young. He was from Shangal (the town where most of the Yazidi lived). He and his friends spent their time talking about their dreams and happiness in life.


*Shahid said that he and his friends, just like the other people, ran towards Mount Sinjar a few kilometers away, without turning back to their homes. Shahid said,

"After we ran a short time in order to get away from the town, [the violent group] came in from everywhere. Some of them came after us and arrested us. They took us to a house they used as a headquarters, tied our hands, and beat us. I saw that they killed many innocent people, including women, men, and children.

"After about six hours of arrest, two of my best friends tried to run. Unfortunately, they failed and [the violent group] captured them, brought them in front of us, and shot and killed them in a beastly way. I felt afraid and was shook with fear. From that moment on, I haven’t been able to use my tongue perfectly."

He has a very bad stutter.


Shahid continued,

“They left us for two days without food and water in one room of the house.  We were afraid they would starve us to death.  At dawn, when they were sleeping, three of my friends and I escaped and ran toward a mountain. We stayed two days there without food and water. On the third day on the mountain, we decided two of us would go back to the town to secretly get food and water for the rest of our friends. After two trips into town, [the violent group] saw us and shot at us but we were preserved and won. We hid ourselves on the mountain for about eight nights. From the mountain, we saw a battle between [the violent group] and the PKK (Kurdish forces), who fought very courageously.  After the sun set, we went to them. They treated us with much respect and took us to a place where there were lots of Yazidis and gave us food. Thus, after eight days of walking between the Iraq and Syrian borders, they helped us reach a quiet region in northern Iraq. From there, we drove to Sulimanya City."

Today, Shahid is living in an abandoned factory with his wife and other Yazidi families. Their lives are very difficult and they are in need of everything to live.


Though they need so many things, they are grateful to the GHNI team in Iraq as we help them with the basic items for living, such as food, hygiene supplies, heaters, and many other items. We have also helped them to continue having hope in their future. GHNI is training the Yazidis to be able to return to their damaged and destroyed homes and rebuild their lives. We are also assessing the situation in the Yazidi homeland, and when the time is right, how we will assist.


The Yazidi people are tough and resilient. They do not want to leave their homeland and fully plan to return when it is safe enough. GHNI is there to help them retain their hope and assist them. We need partners, like you, to help us bring winter aid to Shahid, his family, and other Yazidi families. Four hundred dollars will provide a family with a heater, blankets, one month’s worth of supplemental food, and other necessary items to help them survive the winter.


Thank you for your help!


GHNI Disaster Relief Worker


*For purposes of safety and wellbeing, “Shahid” is a pseudonym for the person being helped by this project.