Aya*, a young widow, lived on a farm in Iraq with her two adult stepsons and her own children before ISIS took over. Iraqi tribal law says that land passes down to sons, not wives, so after her husband died Aya’s home belonged to her stepsons, but her children worked the farm so they were allowed to remain. When ISIS invaded her town, however, Aya’s eldest son was killed, so she fled with her two younger children and infant grandchild.
Once her town was liberated from ISIS control, Aya tried to return home. But without her eldest son to work on the farm, her stepsons refused to accept her.
Desperate for a place for her family to stay, Aya searched for shelter. She met a farmer who offered her lodging in exchange for work, but the conditions were so dismal she needed a way out. A neighbor who knew of her situation suggested our partner, the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), and asked them to help her.
OWFI brought Aya and her family to a shelter where they stayed for seven months. Under OWFI’s care, they received much needed support and resources to help rebuild their lives: medical care, psychosocial support, and basics like food and clothing.
Once Aya’s basic needs were met, OWFI began mediations between Aya and her stepsons, hoping to reach an agreement that would allow the family to return home. Through a months-long process guided by OWFI staff members, trust was rebuilt among the family, and Aya’s stepsons agreed to let her return. Thanks to your support, Aya and her children once again can live safely on their farm.
In addition to finding Aya’s family a safe place to live, OWFI also wanted to ensure that the family would thrive. Helping Aya secure IDs for her children has enabled her to enroll her children in school so their futures can be brighter.
Thanks to OWFI — and thanks to you — Aya and her family bare living more securely with a solid plan for the future. Thank you for making this life-changing work possible!
*Names have been changed to respect the privacy of individuals.