Halabja Donor Report
With Support of Family and Friends – Naza’s* Story
Naza* (55 years) had a good life before the chemical attacks in 1988. The third of seven siblings in a middle-class Kurdish Muslim family, Naza was always content, and maintained loving relationships with her parents and siblings. At 21 she married and mothered four children of her own, two boys and two girls.
During the chemical attacks of 1988, Naza and her family hid the basement of their home during the bombardment. Immediately Naza, her parents, and children were short of breath, vomiting, and experiencing burning sensations caused by the gas. As soon as the bombardment ceased, they fled their home in Halabja for a nearby village, Sazan.
Now homeless and displaced her family survived the next three years, as many others had, by seeking refuge in camps. Often staying only a few months before being forced to move again. In 1991 her family returned to Halabja. Her children robbed of their education and childhood she had envisioned were also now continuously sick.
Naza’s youngest daughter, an infant during the attack, has lived her entire life with physical weakness, shortness of breath and other physical symptoms which have caused Naza to feel guilt and hopelessness for her now adult daughter’s future. In the past few years Naza has been diagnosed with severe and worsening depression.
Encouraged by her family, Naza has so far engaged in seven independent and group therapy sessions at our center in Halabja. The sessions have included dialogue and psychoeducation, identified active coping strategies, beathing exercises and provided Naza with a daily schedule and tools to address negative feelings and helplessness as they appear in her daily life.
In addition, our team have provided psychoeducation about her condition to her family and with their support, along with group therapy, Naza knows she is not alone and has begun to realize a reduction of symptoms.
Naza continues to engage with group and individual therapy which have become a foundation for her life.
All services provided by Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights are free to patients.
*Names are changed to protect the identity of patients.
In the past three months our treatment center in Halabja has averaged more than 500 therapeutic sessions a month. These include both individual and group sessions.
About five medical cases are handled per month at our center, most other medical cases have been referred to local medical institutions.
In May, through our program for capacity building we began to focus on training for internal staff on methods for depression diagnosis and treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other relevant topics. These training sessions were conducted through Jiyan’s senior psychological staff from the center in Chamchamal.