The end of each month leaves me hoping for a quiet month ahead. We were glad to say goodbye to August. We had made it into a good month, and it ended well but it had been an intense, exhausting month for everyone in the camps and we were longing for routine that September may usher in. No drama for a month. Quiet. Time and space to focus on kids and curriculum. On new beginnings.
A terror attack on August 31st, in one of the more northern camps brought our longing to an abrupt end. It brought life to an end for the victims of the heinous attack. The act of terrorism happened in a camp where many survivors of captivity and the mass graves of Kojo are housed. It is a camp whose residents hold on to life by the skin of their teeth.
They have been provided cabins, with small internal bathrooms and kitchens, their infrastructure is superior to that of other camps, but death hangs in the air, death pervades everything, even the cooking pots. Chai does not taste good there. It is a camp where life has been sucked out of it, most women wear black or brown. Everything is in slow motion as if seven years later people are still deciding whether or not to crawl out of the grave.
The only difference between those housed in the camp is the number of families who were in captivity, who are still in captivity or who have been buried in mass graves or still unaccounted for. Each personal story is identical. Just numbers vary.
We have many students in this camp, which is close to the Turkish border and exists under constant threat of the very real possibility of an air strike. How death could be brought closer to those who live enveloped by the shadow of death is incomprehensible. A bomb was placed under the cabin of a certain Shex who was the target. It was timed to explode at 22.15, when he would surely be home watching tv. He was. He survived. His wife was hospitalized. His nephew and niece both young children, were murdered. His neighbors, all family members, were hospitalized. The entire camp was terrorized. Death laughed loud.
The camp was put under immediate lockdown, without exception, whilst investigations began. The following morning, September 1, we received a call from the Government, once again thanking us for our help with the June fire in Shariya camp, and requesting our help to replace the household items destroyed in the attack.
Our response was of a much smaller level, our purchases limited to five washing machines, five stoves, five fridges, five air conditioning units, five water coolers and five TVs but the need to replace immediately as part of the restoration process in the midst of trauma was vital.
“We never expected a terrorist attack to happen in our camp, in any camp. After fleeing Daesh in Sinjar, we expected safety. The explosion happened at night, we couldn't see anything. We thought it was an airstrike. We were terrified. Everyone was screaming and running, trying to get out of the camp. Our cabins were right by the ones which exploded, we were in the front lines.” - Shirin, SOHF student and camp resident.
“We couldn't believe our eyes, but yes we could, when Springs of Hope turned up with all new items for the survivors. It comforted us to see the staff, and to sit and talk with them, especially as we could not leave the camp at that time. We have lost our security again. We need to get to The Hope Centre and breathe again and return to life.” - Yusra. SOHF student and camp resident.
We will never know, nor do we need to know, who was behind this dastardly act of terror. The group is known, the individual not. We are grateful that due to your partnership with us and the radical generosity that you showed us during the Shariya Camp fire that we had the surplus to respond without a second thought. We are grateful to be recognized by the authorities as those who have and who give with an open heart and hand. We are humbled to be considered “first responders” and pray that whatever the emergency, that our financial storerooms will be full in order to respond quickly in times of disaster, giving whatever aid is needed.
As for September. Noori will be busy working with the Qadiya camp kids who lived through this in-camp terrorist attack, filling in the cracks that have opened in their souls, and Khero will be filling all the gaps underneath our cabins with blocks. Just in case. Just in case.