I don't but some words of a vague ditty went through my head on one of those freezing Kurdistan days so I just had to look him up. ( Thats what one does in Kurdistan when there is no electric for the umpteenth time in a day. ) He wrote The Streets of London. " Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London, I'll show you something to make you change your mind"
I have become somewhat withdrawn in the past few months. I am struggling with usage of human words and the lack of ability to correctly and accurately portray and describe that to which I am a witness. I desire to use that which I am seeing, that which I am touching, smelling and tasting , namely the results of gross, foul , brilliantly calculated evil, to lead you through the camps of Northern Iraq, and to change the average western mindset and to shake off apathy and the attitude of" it's not my responsibility"...
I fell in love with a kid recently. He captured my heart and I just adore him. Springs of Hope Foundation was a part of his rescue from Syria and we since then have adopted him into our tribe. But he is mine. He is ten years old. Incredibly intelligent and good looking. Funny. His mind oh so sharp.He has an ear to ear grin to die for. What more could a "Mum" want in a son?
He has moved around a lot for a kid his age. He has " lived" in Talafar, in Mosul, in Raqqa, in Mosul, in Raqqa and now he lives in a tent with a family who are taking care of him and his two orphan siblings with whom he has just been reunited after close to two and a half years in the captivity of Daesh. Whereabouts of mother, unknown. Whereabouts, if alive, of father, unknown.
He is a ten year old lover. He throws himself into my arms and is content to stay there. No embarrassment, no wriggling to get away, lets just hug. But then he flips. " If you continue to speak English " he will say oh so seriously, " I will have to kill you".
He means it. And he can. At ten years old this kid who I love so deeply could take me out. I meet his gaze evenly. " I will teach you English. If you want to be the best, and go far in life, study and make a good business, you will need English. And computers. I'll teach you. What do you think?"
" I will learn English" my ten year old replies. His grin returns.
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the tents of Kurdistan. I will show you something to make you change your mind.
We go back to playing. Jumping and dancing inside the small tent. I want to pursue the area of " radicalization" further and request that Saad, my Ops Manager tell him something. " Tell him that I am a Jew from Israel" Saad's mouth kind of dropped and his eyes widened but he responded with his typical " Yes Ma'am"
The answer did not surprise me. Did not shock me. " Then I will behead you" And he would too. After his hugs. This is what my new son has been taught in two and a half years of Jihadi terrorist training in " farms " from Mosul to Raqqa. Taught to behead, taught to decapitate, taught to drive a car into fiery furnaces and booby trapped walls. Taught to have his arms broken time after time and bear it in silence. Let me take you by the hand, I will lead you through the "farms" of Daesh.
When I first set eyes on my ten year old in our home base in Shariya, he plopped himself on my knee then lifted up his jacket. His chest, stomach , abdomen is peppered with bullet shots. His stomach is slashed down the middle. Stuff oozes out. He talks, he recalls every detail of having been shot then been taken to hospital. After Daesh had deliberately and mercilessly shot him to pieces as part of his training program they decided in their great kindness to stitch him up again, ready for round two. And round two, three and four came. To this ten year old who loves to cuddle.
Would you like to see? No. I am sure not. Hey its the start of a New Year. Lets begin it gently. Right? Wrong. Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the ravages of evil.
We stayed for dinner and played games. He asked me to adopt him. Told me that he wanted to be my son. Today he sent me a message telling me that he misses me and loves me, and asking when I would come back to him. ( In a few days in a few days) We bought him a Playstation to try to focus his brilliant mind. I am having to exercise large doses of rational compassion as my heart would like to take me online into some Toys R Us and buy my kid just everything on the shelf. But it is love he needs.
That power of love, that gently invades and unravels human destruction. That love that will never fail. That love that will always embrace, biding its time as healing slowly breaks in. The love that is patient as he soils himself in bed each night. The love that will never turn away but will always embrace with kindness.
My friend as you read this, you struggle. So do I. You recoil. So did I when I saw his tiny body just shot through. You do not want to read this but it's here, in front of your eyes. It really can't be avoided. I can take you by the hand and lead you through the camps of Kurdistan, Northern Iraq and show you the results of apathy, the results and consequences of unhindered evil. But I can also show you the sounds of laughter as kids learn to laugh again, women learn to trust again. I can show you both. And indeed we need to see both. The gross darkness and the light breaking in. We need to be equipped to challenge the one without fear, and to be carriers of the other.
It's time to leave. Oh how I hate leaving him. And him me. We all gather outside for a family pic. He however ( that's my boy ) jumps into the back of my vehicle, ready to roll. His grin is huge. " You're my Mum and I am going with you. " I have to kind of peel him off me and give him definites regarding my return. We talk about skateboards...He grins. He knows. The skateboard will win. My head will stay in its place. Love is. Love does. Love wins.
This is a tiny tiny part of my kid's story. To write it would be to right a thesis on the abuse of children under the Islamic State. There are many other kids like him that we are privileged to be the catalyst for love in their lives. To live the antidote for the Islamic State. We can't do it alone .
We need your help to enable us to patiently untangle the short but intense years of abuse. Springs of Hope Foundation has set up an adoption program for kids who have been escaped from Daesh. We call it " Hopefully, Yours" and ask for a monthly donation for a period of 12 months of $60 (which gives $50 in hand after currency transfer) to help kids such as mine to have a loving start in the long road back to emotional and physical health.
My kid is home. He is safe. He has me. He has us. We here at Springs of Hope Foundation in Northern Iraq won't leave him. We are there for the very long haul however many twists and turns this will take. He will make it. That's why we are there. For kids just like mine. Springs of Hope Foundation has a whole list of children like mine, who have been rescued and need your help this year. 2017. This year we want to see these kids adopted, loved and their lives being restored and rebuilt. Love so invading and relentlessly pursuing, that even the very depths of molecular structure which was twisted and maimed under the brutality of the Caliphate is restored. Love heals. But it takes a bit of money and sometimes sacrificial giving for the sake of the other.
Can we take you by the hand and lead you through the tents of Northern Iraq? We can show you things that will make you change your mind.
If so, this is where you will find us. www.springsofhope.foundation, or firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you. There are some cute kids who just may be "Hopefully Yours". You'll become part of their lives, and their family and loved back with an extravagance.
with thanks to our in house photographer, Khalid Sharya for the inside the camp pics.