Faizah has always been brave – even aged 13, when her uncles tried to force her into marriage. So, when ISIS attacked her community and warned her not to flee, she harnessed that defiance and dared to find safety. Faizah dreams of a world without war; of peace for her children. Here is her story.
Before ISIS attacked our community, we almost had a normal life. But we became displaced once the war began. We were so panicked leaving Mosul that we left all that we had where my husband and I lived with our two children. We were displaced more than once, and every escape was dangerous – we were hurt a lot. One time, we were apprehended by ISIS on our way, and they warned us never to leave again, but I knew we had taken a risk to find a better life.
After moving several times, we finally reached Kurdistan. I went into a deep depression because of the things I saw during these bad days. We were isolated from our families and in a bad financial situation. But there was no choice: with my husband, I had to rebuild our lives from scratch. For the sake of my children and their future.
Even as a child I was strong-minded. My uncles tried to force me into marriage at 13 years old, but I dared to resist. I knew even then that I wanted to live on my own terms and I fought to wait until I was 20. This is the kind of strength I gathered when I heard about the Women for Women International program. At first, I hesitated to participate because I didn’t have the confidence to be among others and speak up and participate. I had nearly lost hope. I was living with bad depression and stress, thinking and living in the past while the fear of my family’s future persisted. But when I heard my neighbors speak positively about it, I collected my courage and decided to see what it was all about.
I can say that the program was the best new start for myself and my family’s life. My world made a 180-degree change from all sides. My depression became less day by day as I met with new friends in my group. And by participating in class, I learnt to speak up with my husband and children at home. It was an amazing experience. My confidence was definitely boosted. Before, I didn’t have the courage to interact with people or have friends. I used to stay alone at home, but now I feel better and more relaxed when talking to others.
The change was not only in myself. I brought the positive transformation to my family. I give them more attention, and seeing me more comfortable makes them happier. I have started my own business recycling clothes, which gives me an income that I use to support my husband. I have more ideas for business and when we are financially stable, I hope we will live in peace – away from conflicts. And I am daring to dream.
I dream that my children can go to school; that they learn to be independent. And I dream of a future that has no wars.