Yezidi Children's Safe Space

by Free Yezidi Foundation
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Yezidi Children's Safe Space
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FYF Monthly Newsletter - December 2020

Yezidi child celebrating the holiday, December 2020 (photo obtained with informed consent of child and legal guardian)

 

Dear friends,

We at the Free Yezidi Foundation wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. Yezidis also celebrate an important holiday in December: Ida Ezid. According to tradition Yezidis fast for three days and then celebrate the holiday. Despite the suffering of the community, families do their best to mark this holiday occasion, even from tents in the IDP camps or from the huts or unfinished buildings where they live. At the same time, we wish those celebrating other religious holidays in December a pleasant holiday season.

December 9th marked the International Day of Commemoration & Dignity of the Victims of Genocide. FYF issued the following statement: "On the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of Genocide, FYF points to the promises made a long time ago that appear to have been forgotten. We need to ensure and reiterate that never again means never again. Justice for survivors of a genocide brings back some hope that they had lost in humanity. Around the world, there must be action, so survivors can believe in a system that will protect the most vulnerable. The lives of the next generation depend on decisions and actions that take place now. Impunity today will have deleterious consequences tomorrow."

 

Yezidi genocide survivors in August 2014 (photos Sebastian Meyer)

 

As the year comes to a close, FYF is wrapping up its 2020 trauma portfolio and preparing for service provision in 2021. Similarly, new elements of justice efforts, including continued and expanded collaboration with UNITAD, will be forthcoming in the new year. Operations will be continuing at the FYF Women's and Children's Centers, at our base of operations in Sheikhan, and through our mobile team in Shariya. FYF remains concerned by the spread of the COVID-19 virus not only in the camp but also in areas of Shingal which are still lacking adequate health and service provision for civilians. FYF and many other Yezidi and international actors are putting forth best efforts to warn all members of the community about the danger of COVID-19 and share prevention measures that can be taken.

FYF courtesy visit with Ido Baba Sheikh, who died recently due to COVID-19 complications. He and his late brother, the former Baba Sheikh and Yezidi religious leader, were pillars of strength and wisdom in the Yezidi community. FYF urges all Yezidis, especially in the camps, to wear masks for protection against the COVID-19 pandemic.

FYF is beginning to recruit trainees / beneficiaries for its Bakery Training Center, to begin classes and operations in 2021. The purpose of the Center is to provide the trainees with business and basic math courses, bakery training, and on-site practice working in and establishing a functioning business. The skills to be taught are transferrable to other locations and other businesses. If and when beneficiaries return to Sinjar, they will have gained some skills and tools to improve their economic opportunities in the future.

FYF Women's Center Graduation on 7 December 2020

 

On 7 December, FYF Women's Center beneficiaries graduated. This was the reaction from one graduate, Almas*: "My life has changed a lot after attending classes at FYF's Women's Center. I did not know how to sew and knit before, but since attending classes [here] I have been able to produce many different garments. Attending those classes helped me a lot: psychologically, mentally, and financially. In addition, I opened my own business. It is small, but it makes me feel happy and strong."

Finally, we ask our friends to bear in mind the forthcoming winter and the difficult conditions facing Yezidis living in and out of IDP camps, those who returned to Sinjar, and those living on Mount Sinjar. The bitter cold, danger of tent gas-fires, lack of basic goods and services, and COVID pandemic will make the next months extremely challenging. This is all the more reason to ensure that Yezidis have access to training, education, job opportunities, and a better chance to grow and participate in the modern economy. FYF will be addressing some of these systemic problems in the coming year. In the meantime, we wish strength, resilience, and health to our people through the harsh winter.

 

IDP camp residents struggle through harsh winters (photo courtesy @Ezidi2)

 

Finally we have nearly reached our goal for our end of the year fundraising! If you want to make a donation via GlobalGiving, please click here.

Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people. We wish you a Happy New Year and a prosperous and safe 2021.


Sincerely,

 


Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

 

In the News
 
RED | De Free Yezidi Foundation probeert hoop te bieden | This article (in Dutch) outlines the Free Yezidi Foundation activities and its impact on its beneficiaries.

Kurdistan-24 Prominent Yezidi Activist Ido Baba Sheikh Dies from COVID-19 | This article quotes Yezidi leaders and organizations, including the Free Yezidi Foundation, in lamenting the passing of Ido Baba Sheikh.
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FYF Monthly Newsletter - November 2020

FYF hand-knitted items, fall / winter 2020Dear friends,


This month our staff members and beneficiaries have been preparing for another winter ahead in the IDP camps. As last year's winter was very cold, our women's center beneficiaries have been making winter products for their family members or for sale in the community. We are anticipating the opening of a formal storefront in the coming months, where FYF will sell hand-crafted items by Yezidi women. Stay tuned for more developments in 2021!

FYF has also been producing thousands of masks and PPE for free distribution in the camps to combat COVID-19. Through a generous grant, FYF has been able to employ local Yezidi women to produce and distribute masks in the IDP camps. We remain extremely concerned by the prospect of COVID-19 spread through the camps and in Sinjar. In both locations, health provisions are low and the risk of spread and danger to vulnerable individuals is very high. We call on all organizations and leaders within the Yezidi community to emphasize the importance of adhering to WHO safety and health guidelines.

Toward the end of November, FYF participated in marking the global effort to highlight the importance of combating gender-based violence, sexual violence, and promotion of women's rights and women's equality. Organizations all over the world are taking 16 days of to highlight activism in this important field, which is also part of all FYF projects. As a women-led organization working with countless survivors of sexual violence and gender-based violence, we call for protection of women in every community in the world, including our own.

FYF Harikara discuss justice and women's rights in an IDP camp

 

The Free Yezidi Foundation also participated in two discussions hosted by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum this month, highlighting the situation facing Yezidis six years on from the ISIS genocide. FYF's Executive Director and Justice Project Manager participated in the two events.

This month, Samantha Elhassani was sentenced to more than six years in Indiana, United States, for her role in providing material support to a terror organization. The full US Department of Justice press release can be found here.

The Free Yezidi Foundation has been advocating for appropriate criminal charges for all members of ISIS, male or female, in all relevant jurisdictions in response to the genocide perpetrated against Yezidis. The role that all forms of financial, material, and human resource support that were extended to ISIS to help it achieve its ghastly aims - especially the sale, purchase, and rape of Yezidi 'slaves' in the ISIS caliphate - should be prosecuted.

In the News
 
Al-Monitor | Indiana Woman Gets 6 Years in Prison after Smuggling Cash for the Islamic State | This article quotes FYF comments on the Elhassani case.

Kurdistan-24 Yezidis Suspicious over Syrian Opposition Leader Visit to Town in Afrin | This article includes comments from FYF on the situation of Yezidis in Afrin.

El Periodico | la Lucha del pueblo Yazidi seis anos despues del genocidio  | This article (in Spanish) includes excerpts of an interview with the FYF Executive Director on post-genocide recovery.

Kurdistan-24 Yezidis Official in KRG Responsible for rescuing Yezidi Awarded with Sergio Vieira De Mello Prize | This article includes the FYF position on continued efforts to rescue kidnapped Yezidis.

 

Finally, as we enter the Giving season, we again ask you to consider supporting the Free Yezidi Foundation.

Please donate to one of the FYF projects on GlobalGiving. To donate on GlobalGiving click here

Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people.



Sincerely,



Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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You Can Make a Difference!

Support FYF Tomorrow on Giving Tuesday

 

FYF beneficiary, Kafia, 2019

 

Dear friends,

This holiday season, we are highlighting stories of Yezidi staff members and beneficiaries. Here is a reflection from FYF Women's Center beneficiary, Kafia, in 2019:

"When I was younger, in Sinjar, I asked my family why I was not sent to school like all the other girls. My family tried to register me in school, but the school didn’t accept me because I have a disability with my legs. In the IDP camp, I heard about the Free Yezidi Foundation registering women to participate in their projects. They told me they even have bus drivers to pick up women who live far away or are unable to reach the center by themselves. I was not sure if they would accept me because I am not like others, because of my disability. It was the first time I was ever accepted to enroll in classes. I was so happy. I was amazed that people like me could get a chance to get an education. I love learning, especially English and Arabic. I learned so much about women’s rights, and I felt more empowered than ever before. I never expected to be enrolled and equally accepted like everyone else. I will keep trying hard to learn and achieve something, so I can become more independent. I don’t like to be the 'disabled woman' that is a burden on her family or other people."

Kafia has been an IDP since August 2014, like many others from Sinjar. Life is generally very difficult for IDPs, but those with disabilities can face considerably more hardship.

FYF beneficiary, Kafia, prepares for her future role as a paid FYF Children's Center helper

 

The Free Yezidi Foundation offers courses at our women’s center regardless of beneficiaries’ prior educational experience or capabilities. Two core values at the FYF Women’s Center are inclusion and resilience. No one has taken those values to heart more than Kafia. In 2019 Kafia registered to take classes at the center for the first time, where she blossomed into a star student. Now, she is preparing to work as a helper in the FYF Children’s Center.
 
As a girl I never had dreams for my future. Today I am excited by my future and I have the right to get an education just like the other women. I can do something with my life. I have new dreams, especially to work with children and earn an income for my family.”  
 
Kafia told us that FYF embracing her as a person, rather than focusing on her disability, has given her a newfound confidence that has inspired her. Kafia wants the world to know that people with disabilities, if given 
a chance, can do great things. “We can support our family and have something to offer the community. We can contribute."

On Giving Tuesday we ask you, our friends and donors, to consider supporting the Free Yezidi Foundation. Our provision of care, education, treatment, and services for vulnerable and disenfranchised members of the Yezidi community is possible because of people like you.


*This story and associated photos have been published with permission and informed consent from Kafia and her legal guardian*

 

 

Please donate to one of the FYF projects on GlobalGiving. To donate on GlobalGiving click here

 


Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people.



Sincerely,



Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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You Can Make a Difference! Support FYF on Giving Tuesday!

 

FYF staff and children celebrate FYF graduation (pre-COVID)

 

Dear friends,


This holiday season, we will be highlighting some of the stories of Yezidi staff members and beneficiaries. Here are some thoughts from Children's Center beneficiaries:



"I liked all the classes. It was much better than school! I learned many new things: many new English words and how to use a computer. At the school we did not take computer classes like we did at FYF. My favorite game here was football. I made a lot of new friends and my old friends also attended the FYF Children’s Center. My dream for the future is to become a mathematics teacher." - 'A', age 13, more than six years living in an IDP camp (not pictured).



Like other children, 'A' has had to adjust his life considerably in the aftermath of the genocide perpetrated by ISIS against the Yezidi population. He is from Khanasor, Sinjar.

 

Yezidi children in an IDP camp (pre-COVID)

 

"I was coming to the Children’s Center with my mother when she was attending sewing and knitting classes...I like coming to the Children’s Center very much, I like the teachers and the way that they teach us. We were taking English, computer, painting, and games classes. I learned a lot from all of them. My favorite game was tennis. I do not remember much about Sinjar because I was very young. I heard that Sinjar now is not like before, it is not safe and there are no services there, like water and electricity. I do not want to go back to Sinjar. In Sinjar there are no courses for children like here, and also, here I can come to FYF and I have a lot of friends in the camp. When I grow up, I want to work as an English teacher because I like English very much. It is the most important language in the whole world and it will allow me to be able to work with organizations like FYF." 'K',  11 years old, from Tel Azar, Sinjar, currently living for six years in an IDP camp (not pictured).

 

This holiday season, we ask you, our friends and donors, to consider supporting the Free Yezidi Foundation. Our provision of care, education, treatment, and services for vulnerable and disenfranchised members of the Yezidi community is possible because of people like you. Please donate to one of the FYF projects on GlobalGiving. To donate on GlobalGiving click here

 

Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people.



Sincerely,



Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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FYF Monthly Newsletter - October 2020

 

FYF mourns the loss of Baba Sheikh, the Yezidi religious leaderDear Friends,


This month Yezidis mourned the loss of the Yezidi religious leader and beloved head of the Yezidi Spiritual Council, Baba Sheikh Khurto Haji Ismail. Baba Sheikh was a forward-looking and transformative leader in the community in various ways. The Free Yezidi Foundation holds the late Baba Sheikh in the highest regard. See our statement here. FYF country leadership visited the final resting place of Baba Sheikh and paid a courtesy visit to his family and members of the Spiritual Council. He died at age 87 due to health complications.

 

FYF Statements on Convicted Female ISIS Members
 
FYF has been providing law enforcement agencies, governments, and the general public with information and reports regarding ISIS members, including female ISIS members. A number of female ISIS members or associates have sought to portray themselves as victims, despite their participation in a genocidal, mass-rape terrorist organization. FYF has noted that in many cases, the behavior of female ISIS members was even worse than men, and their crimes facilitated and ensured atrocities committed against Yezidis and others. FYF believes that justice for members of genocidal, terrorist organizations should not depend on gender but on the decisions and actions taken by individuals.

This month, Omaima Abdi of Hamburg, Germany was sentenced to prison on four criminal counts, including one count of owning a Yezidi 'slave'. When she tired of her life in the ISIS Caliphate, she returned home to Germany, and resumed her life as though nothing had happened. However, a journalist found her phone in Syria, which included evidence of her criminal behavior with ISIS. We are grateful to the German prosecutors for ensuring that she faced justice for her crimes. Here is our statement about Omaima Abdi (pictured below in court). To see the FYF statement on Omaima Abdi, click here.

In the Netherlands, Laura H was convicted in criminal court as an accomplice for the preparation of terrorist actions. Shockingly, she has developed a platform to write a book and a play about her life. The Free Yezidi Foundation strongly rejects the attempts of current of former ISIS members or accomplices to profit from their experience with a genocidal organization like ISIS. To see our full statement, click here.

Photo of Omaima Abdi in court, courtesy AFP

 

FYF Reacts to Iraq - KRG Agreement on Shingal (Sinjar)
 
FYF issued a number of initial observations and notes on the much-publicized agreement between the Iraq and KRG governments about the future of Shingal. To see the full thread, click here. FYF also worked with other Yezidi community leaders, intellectuals, and civil society organization to support a joint statement that both supported attention to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Sinjar while underscoring Yezidi concerns on some important elements of this process. As a non-governmental organization, FYF avoids political involvement, but maintains a clear voice in matters pertaining to human rights and the humanitarian needs of the Yezidi people. 

Separately, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has unfortunately raised tensions and already led to bloodshed. The Free Yezidi Foundation stands in solidarity with Yezidis in harm's way, including those who are fighting as part of the Armenian forces. We hope for a swift end to this conflict. Yezidis and Armenians have enjoyed close relations for centuries, and we wish our Yezidi and Armenian brothers and sisters safety during this difficult time.

 

FYF Harikara Model Selected by USAID As Promising Practice
 
USAID held a virtual Evidence Summit on Strategic Religious Engagement in early October. The Free Yezidi Foundation's Harikara model was selected by USAID and featured as a promising practice, as can be seen in the image below. The FYF Harikara constitute a group of Yezidi women who have formed a sort of community 'brigade' to provide basic care and psychological first aid to the Yezidi community in the aftermath of the religiously-motivated Yezidi Genocide in 2014. To find out more, click here.

 

FYF Present at Exhumation of 'Mother's Mass Grave' in Shingal (Sinjar)
 
A mass grave in Solagh, Sinjar was exhumed and marked in the presence of Yezidi leaders and civil society this month. This grave contained mostly older Yezidi women, who were killed instead of taken as 'slaves' by ISIS. It is now referred to as the mass grave of mothers. The Free Yezidi Foundation and other organizations and social and religious leaders were present to mark the exhumation and to show solidarity with those we have lost and the families of those who were killed. It is important for families to be able to bury loved ones, and for the crimes committed against the innocent to be fully investigated and perpetrators brought to justice.

 

From the Field: Fatima and the Sewing/Knitting Course
 
"Attending the sewing and knitting classes helped me a lot. Before I had no knowledge about these subjects, but now I am able to sew and knit things for myself and my daughters, which makes me feel very good. Attending classes kept me busy and therefore helped me to not overthink. I consider them self-care because even mentally and physically I feel better now. That's why I want to attend another course at the Free Yezidi Foundation Women's Center. I cannot thank the staff enough! They are giving support to all people by giving them the opportunity to attend these wonderful courses with those very good teachers." Fatima, 51 years old, attended classes from June - August 2020.

Unfortunately, because of COVID, FYF has had to reduce the total number of beneficiaries attending the center at a time. Space is limited and there is a long wait list. FYF does its best to provide chances to a large pool of potential beneficiaries in and out of camp, and is seeking another facility to help us meet the demands.

In the News
Al-Monitor | Yazidi Spiritual Leader Baba Sheikh Dies At 87 | The article quotes the FYF statement on the passing of Baba Sheikh

Rudaw | Tributes Paid to Yezidi Spiritual Leader Laid to Rest in Shekhan | The article quotes the FYF statement on the passing of Baba Sheikh

Ad.NL | IS-Slachtoffers Zijn Woedend Over Nederlands Toneelstuk Over Syriegangster Laura H | The article (in Dutch) highlights the FYF statement on the glorification and platform of convicted terror accomplice Laura H.

Ezidi24 | Conviction of ISIS Member Omaima Abdi in Germany | The article reproduces the FYF statement on the conviction of Omaima Abdi

Kurdistan-24 | Yezidi Group Infuriated by Dutch Play Allegedly Glorifying ISIS Convict | The article highlights the Free Yezidi Foundation complaints about the glorification of ISIS members or accomplices

Rudaw | German Woman Sentenced to Prison for ISIS Membership, Enslavement of Yezidi Girl | The article includes a quote from earlier FYF reports on the culpability of female ISIS members

MedyaNews | Repeating Old Mistakes in Sengal Won't Break the Chain | The article includes a reference to FYF's thread on the private nature of the details of the agreement

Kurdistan-24 | KRG and Baghdad Reach Administrative, Security Agreement on Sinjar | The article includes a quote from the Free Yezidi Foundation about the Shingal agreement

Rudaw | Erbil-Baghdad Deal on Shingal Will Recruit Locals into Security Forces: Spokesperson | The article includes a quote from the Free Yezidi Foundation about the Shingal agreement
 

Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people.

Sincerely,


Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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Organization Information

Free Yezidi Foundation

Location: Duhok, NA - Iraq
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @free_yezidi
Project Leader:
Pari Ibrahim
Duhok, Kurdistan Region Iraq
$40,011 raised of $103,800 goal
 
409 donations
$63,789 to go
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