21 April 2015

Then and now: In pictures

Here are some contrasting images to show how things have changed (and stayed the same) since our arrival in July 2014 and now, nine months later.

Streamers of Kurdistan flags appeared overnight on our street in early
August after the Islamic State group pushed into Kurdish-controlled
territory and prompted mass displacement.  Nationalism and morale
were high; people thought they would be returning to their homes in 
Mosul and the surrounding towns in a few weeks or months. 

The streamers are still there, less jaunty now and more bedraggled. [Insert war metaphor here.] 


Short hair.
Long hair.


Late July: dry, dusty, and hazy, post-wheat harvest.

Early March: green, clear(er) skies.


In the initial days and weeks following the Islamic State push, displaced people were everywhere -- along roadsides, in construction sites, in spare lots, in church yards and mosques.  Even though almost half of the IDPs fleeing to the Kurdistan region of Iraq immediately moved into houses, there was a huge visible presence of IDPs in every square meter of space.

As the conflict wore on, IDPs were increasingly concentrated into (less visible) camps and informal settlements, especially with "caravans" (pre-fab trailers).  This is Mar Elia IDP center at Christmas; now they have caravans instead of tents.

While there are camps, unfinished buildings are one of the most common places where IDPs have settled.  This is the inside of Ankawa Mall, which housed about 400 families.  Last week, they were moved into caravans on the outskirts of town.


Accidental matching shirts with Jim Fine, my predecessor as MCC Iraq program coordinator.

Intentional matching shirts with Nathan (and all forty choir members) for Easter.  


MCC office arrangement, July 2014.

MCC office arrangement, April 2015.


Traditional Kurdish pillow.
I cut off all the tassels in a fit of cultural insensitivity.
(For those of you who are planning a visit, make sure you keep room in your suitcase to take home a Kurdish rug, which are available in the Erbil bazaar.)


During our MCC Iran/Iraq/Jordan retreat in Jerash, Jordan (August).

On the roof of our house in Ankawa (February 2015).


  1. Well, that was fun!!! How delightful to see multiple pics of you two!!

  2. You are looking classy with long hair, Kaitlin!

    Also, "in a fit of cultural insensitivity"-- hahaha!

    1. I still feel a little bad about it, but I like the pillows much better now.