Across the world, 24 people had to flee their homes every single minute in 2016. Today on World Refugee Day we join together to celebrate their courage, strength and resilience.
In Iraq, many of our staff members are displaced themselves – living in abandoned buildings or sprawling camps and unable to return home. They have suffered enormously, but they are also taking action to make lasting change in their country. Every day, we are inspired by their enormous acts of courage to help others.
Please read and share Khalida’s story, and show that you stand #WithRefugees.
“I’m from Mosul originally. My parents and grandparents are from the city, and I met my husband there and set up a home near the centre to raise my family. But despite it being home, we knew we had to flee when Daesh [ISIS] arrived. We knew they would bring terror to our streets and that if we didn’t try to escape immediately, we might never be able to do so.
We didn’t even have time to pack bags. I grabbed my two children and together with the rest of my family, we tried to escape.
It was absolute chaos. My father, children and I were separated from everyone. It was only when we got to Erbil [in northern Iraq] that I discovered my brother had been killed, my sister had been kidnapped and my husband had been badly injured and was being treated in a nearby hospital.
My father couldn’t cope with the stress. He was devastated by what had happened. He suffered a huge heart attack, and died really suddenly. I was heartbroken. To lose so much in such a short space of time is really hard to deal with.
But then I heard about AMAR. They needed women health volunteers to provide displaced families with important health education. I signed up and immediately started medical training. Every week, I learn something new, and then go and visit about 50 families in my local area to teach them how to cope with minor illnesses, and how to avoid more serious illnesses.
I receive a monthly stipend and this has helped cover our living costs – crucial, given that my husband can no longer work. Our living situation is still difficult – we live with lots of other families in an abandoned building site – but at least we are stable.
I put all of my energy into my work, and I feel really proud to be helping other displaced families whilst also supporting my own. I know that the health education I’m providing them with is saving lives, and that’s an amazing feeling.
Step by step, I am also developing really strong relationships with local families. They come to me if they are in trouble, and I do everything I can to help them. I know they would support me if I needed them, too.
Humanity is everything. Even if you have lost everything, you can still support others. Every day, I am proud of my work and am grateful for the opportunity to help other families like mine.”