Yearning to Rebuild Their Lives

Yazidi Refugees, Disaster Relief

In August 2014, a people called the Yazidi were attacked. They are known for being a peaceful and hardworking people who kept to themselves. For hundreds of years, they have been targets for genocide by a single sectarian group, and now it happened again. Some were able to flee a couple hours before this violent group arrived. Many others were caught off guard and overrun. The goal of their enemy was to destroy them all. Those who were captured were enslaved, tortured, and murdered. The women whom they liked were kept alive and became sex slaves for their captors. Many tried to fight, but they were far outgunned by the trained and well-armed enemy. So they ran to Sinjar Mountain, and many were killed on the way. Those who made it suffered up to ten days, in 110 degrees-plus temperatures, without food and water. Many more died. A small corridor of escape was made by the Kurdish forces, and they fled. Many more were killed by their hunters. Most fled to Kurdistan, and most remain there. Waiting, hoping to return home, but not knowing how or when that may happen, nor the conditions of their homes.

We have been helping and encouraging the Yazidi since they arrived. We trained displaced Yazidi in disaster response, security, and Transformational Community Development (TCD). Those who were trained included the leaders of the 100 Yazidi families we help. In this time, we discussed and identified their needs and strategy for returning home to rebuild their homes and lives.  

GHNI offered concrete help to Yazidi families through distribution of supplemental aid. This aid included food items such as flour, salt, sugar, oil, beans, rice, etc. It also included non-food items such as towels, hygiene items, diapers, stoves, heating oil in the winter, and books to help them continue learning.  

We also provided medical assistance by helping the very ill to get to the doctor, covering some or all of the cost. We brought a medical team in April and they attended to many Yazidi people, bringing them healing and hope in knowing there are others who care about them and their plight.

The work that has the greatest impact on the Yazidi families we serve is the time our national team spends with them on a regular basis. The caring love and respect that they receive is strange and surprising to them. After suffering so much because of their religion and ethnic identity, they are happily surprised to be received and helped with dignity and respect. Much is accomplished over a cup of tea with a caring friend who hangs out with you and listens.

These projects will greatly help the Yazidi families we serve by providing the things they need for daily life for the immediate term. It gives them hope that they can return home and not have to leave their country and city for somewhere else. The TCD training and help in implementing TCD projects by our team will aid the Yazidi, as a community, in gaining the knowledge and skills to work together when they return home to rebuild their personal lives and communities.

GHNI Disaster Relief Director