Wassiin and her son Kao are from Sinjar, a region in Iraq west of Mosul. Sinjar has for hundreds of years been the home of many Yezidis, including Wassiin and her family. But in August, 2014, as the Islamic State advanced with lightning speed into Yezidi villages--and as tales of massacres and kidnappings spread ahead of them—Wassiin and her family fled Sinjar. First they stayed on Sinjar mountain for several weeks where they were trapped. Eventually Wassiin and Kao made their way off the mountain and arrived at a camp in Kora, a small town north of Dohuk, a major city in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Through REACH, a longtime MCC partner, Wassiin and Kao received MCC relief kits assembled in North America. Winter was cold and muddy in the northern mountainous areas of Iraq, and summer is stifling and dusty. Life in a tent camp is full of whole varieties of suffering that a relief kit cannot begin to redress. But receiving supplies assembled by strangers halfway around the world can be a powerfully hopeful sign for many who feel that after the high-profile news coverage of last year, they have now been forgotten by the international community.
I wish I knew more about Wassiin and her son. I met her only once and didn't pick up any more details than this. Yezidis--and in particular Yezidi women captured by ISIS--have been the face of minority suffering in Iraq perhaps more than any other group. This inevitably constitutes as second victimization as their original wounds are compounded by the reduction of their identities, for the purposes of the world, to those wounds. We--the media, NGOs, consumers of stories--are not interested in what it means to be a Yezidi, but what it means to be a Yezidi victim. I don't know how to be set free from this.