The Safe House we are partnering with in Kurdistan, Iraq, has its first residents! We had the opportunity to move a young woman named Hana and her son into the home a few months ago, and she was able to share her story with us. Now, we want to share it with you. As you read her story, it’s important to know that at the time this story was collected, Hana was suffering from symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome – a group of psychological symptoms that occur in a person recovering from a captive situation in which captives develop positive feelings toward their captor. This story is graphic, so reader discretion is advised.

My name is Hana. I am a Yazidi woman who was held by ISIS for three years. I was raped and sold from place to place until one day an ISIS man offered to marry me and call me his wife rather than keep me as a slave. I agreed, and eventually, I became pregnant. Soon after that, he was killed. I was heartbroken and scared, so I went to live with my husband’s sister and her family, and they took care of me, loved me and cried for my husband with me. Only a few months later, the Iraqi forces retook the city we were in, and I was taken to a village where most Yazidi people fled to.

When I was able to return home, my family was happy to see me, but they expected me to get rid of my baby. I was eight months pregnant when I returned, and they said, “The baby’s ‘Arab blood’ doesn’t belong in our community.” Even the Yazidi nurses tried to force me to give up my baby, and Yazidi leaders threatened me and lied to me after my baby was born, saying that my son had a heart condition and that he would die soon; however, I loved my son, and I made a choice to keep him. When I did so, my very family began to threaten me, and my male relatives told me they would kill both of us. My own mother refused to hold or even look at her grandson – to her, he was evil and she demanded I get rid of him.

As the threats grew stronger, the government took me to a shelter house for women. This shelter was like a prison with its guards and rules, but I knew my son and I would be safe, so we went there. As time passed, even there I was treated horribly, and my son and I were outcasts and called terrible things by the women and guards. Even to feed my son I had to cry and beg the people who ran the shelter so he could have milk to eat.

I had heard of a place in the village where women like me were protected, and before I had my son I had met with the people who ran this Safe House. While I was still in the government-run shelter, the manager of this Safe House came and visited with me every other day. She knew that I really wanted to keep my baby, even though it meant I would not be allowed to come back into Yazidi culture or even my family. Eventually, she offered me an opportunity to live in the home and to bring my son to live there also. She was one of the first people to ever show my son love and one of the first to love me in the months since I had him.

This woman treats us like we are her own daughter and grandson; she brings us gifts and is helping us get IDs. She shows so much love, but I was curious if her love had limits, so I asked her one day, “If my husband were here today, if he were alive, would you love him?” She looked at me for a second and then said, “Yes, I would love him.”

When I was first freed, I called myself a Muslim. My husband was a Muslim, and he and his family were kind, so I became a Muslim. Then, the Muslims at the shelter home were cruel to me and my son, so I refused to identify with them, and I don’t want anything to do with the Yazidis either because they have treated me terribly. The only people who have treated me with true kindness and love are Christians, like the woman who manages the Safe House. This made me want to learn more, so I asked for a Bible in my language, and I got one through the Safe House in hopes that I can study it.

Soon, I hope to move to Canada with my son and begin a new life. I hope to start over and find out more about the God this kind lady from the Safe House worships.

***

As thoughts of ISIS fade with their defeat, it’s easy to let those affected by them fade from our thoughts as well. However, we must realize that, for many who were abused, the journey to healing is just beginning. After all, ISIS soldiers’ atrocities are not only etched into individuals, but now they are etched into generations– just as we see with Hana and her son.

World Compassion believes that God can redeem even the most painful and difficult of situations, and we have an opportunity to join with Him in this through the Safe House that we are partnering with in Kurdistan, Iraq.

What we provide is safety and an opportunity for these women to rebuild and reclaim their lives. We provide counseling and a community of women and mentors to help them recover, and we empower them as individuals, teaching them skills such as sewing, cooking, woodworking and more. We believe this house will create transformation in their lives and empower them with life and hope again.

The cost to sponsor one of these ladies to go through the six month program is $750 (£535) per month. This covers their food, utilities and clothes to help them get re-established, as well as the cost of the general upkeep of the home.

Will you join us in this ongoing effort to help restore these women and children? We truly have a tremendous opportunity in front of us – Let’s take it!

Bring the hope of Jesus to a new generation today!

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World Compassion Terry Law Ministries d/b/a World Compassion and its affiliates are not a part of nor associated with Compassion International. Your gift will be used for these projects and many other outreaches of World Compassion Terry Law Ministries.