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Much of our community life is an experiment. A good idea may prove to be the best ever, or the wrong timing. The Gathering of our Tribe last Sunday was simply awesome. During this protracted period of my pondering “structure”, I felt it was time to create a platform outside of our campus where former military units would have the chance to integrate, and to see what would happen if different age groups were mixed, older teens with younger. To see if a new structure was appropriate, if our assessment of this season was correct.

“The picnic was simply amazing. The place and the weather were perfect. It was wonderful that we were all together. There was no division of ages. This was the true expression of family. I experienced joy, comfort and beauty." - Saddam. Former Child Soldier.

“Hi there I am Jadlin and my new role in Springs of Hope is the leader of our group which I named Hope Heroes. Today as always SOHF did its best to make everything perfect for us. I had come to the place where the camp and the tent were taking all the air out of me and I could not breathe. I received new breath, both because we were in nature, in a beautiful place on the mountain and also SOHF our family, our tribe, gave us air to breathe again. It was fantastic to dance again, I could not stop, air came into my body and my mind with every step. I returned to the tent with strength, joy and hope.”

"It was a great day for us. I made new memories and my journey took another step. It was important that we mixed with both girls and the older teenagers. We needed this connection with time to play games, eat and talk with everyone, not just our usual group.

This event showed us how much we are loved, respected and valued. I learned new lessons, I took new hope and came back to my tent feeling proud."

Sufyan. Former Child Soldier & Military Leader of the Cubs of the Caliphate.

"It was a special day. I was with all my friends. The food was heaven. I ate four skewers of chicken, four plates of rice and three bowls of salad. Thanks, it was great."

Milad, Former Cub of the Caliphate, trained as a suicide bomber.

“Hi friends. I was so proud of my boys. I was proud that they went outside of their usual boundaries and connected with everyone, even the girls. This has happened on the sports field with other boys, but it was the first time in a social event, and the first time to cooperate with girls. I wonder if their breaking of silence when some of them participated in a film helped them? I don't know, but I know that this was a new day for them and I am very proud of them.”

Shex Sirwan. Sports Coach.

I recall how the journey of the Children of Israel was so well recorded. Not so much from the perspective of destination but the “going out" point, the starting point.

A friend released a short video this week as part of a TV series that he is doing on our work, about the boys to whom we refer as The Boys from Baghouz. May I encourage you to take a few minutes in order to understand the starting point of their journey with us, their setting out point. You will rejoice with us in every step they have taken since that setting out point, including gathering of the tribe picnics.

Watch the video | The Boys from Baghouz:

"My name is Fahad. I was injured in Syria and have a prosthetic leg so I am restricted in my activity. I loved the picnic, I could not dance but my friends took great care of me and did not leave me alone. Everything was beautiful and perfect. We were family. Everyone had his place. I am so grateful to Springs of Hope for making such activities which help us on every level."

Former Child Soldier.

"First of all I am thankful to SOHF for giving us this wonderful time with our friends and SOHF family. It made me so happy to see everyone smiling and laughing, happy and relaxed, preparing food, dancing, chatting, playing music, just like a big family or tribe. It helps us all to know that we have Springs of Hope behind us and with us both on good days and bad days, they never leave us alone."

Azad. Former Child Soldier.

"Wow, it was wonderful. I felt so happy and relaxed. It was a time when we were all together as a family, a time to forget about all our troubles and problems and to spend great time together. I loved the competitions. This was something new for me, and it was great to work together as a team to win and get a prize. That has never happened to me before, I felt strong, that I could succeed without fighting. I felt valued."

Fawas. Former Child Soldier.

"The picnic was superb because we were all together, 100 of us as a complete family. We did not go on a NGO picnic, we went out for the day as a family. It was so healing, so very perfect."

Dilbrin. Former Child Soldier

"Oh what a great day it was. I felt so happy and joyful. Today was special because we took the younger teens with us and it was very successful. We all worked together to prepare food, we all worked together for the competitions and games. We all danced together and even young Jadlin led us all without thinking of her age or sex or anything. Family. This is our tribe and this is our family. Always by our side."

Shirin. Former ISIS captive.

"It was wonderful to see staff and students dancing, singing and laughing together. This showed me yet again how much of a family unity we have become. It was good for me as a psychologist to dance with my patients. Believe me, we had great fun. It was self-care for all of us, we all needed this. We took some of Mr. Natiq’s best music group, this was something new as they are not survivors of ISIS and don't usually connect with the survivors. Today they did, everyone was singing and dancing together. Many boundaries came down, also for me as I can not sing but I wanted to sing and make them happy with the songs from Sinjar and to do that I had to make myself vulnerable. Our journey continues together, we learn, we grow from each experience and we become closer and stronger. Thank you."

Noori. Lead Psychologist.

As I looked around our picnic site, the picture I saw was similar to a scene from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. A scene with the gathering of the clans for battle. I saw our war weary kids post battle. Scarred, some having lost limbs but kids victorious. I thought of the lines from C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, "Now it is time! Then louder, Time! And then so loud it could have shaken the stars "TIME!!” The door flew open."

One of the doors that flew open this week after our picnic was the appointing of young leaders from amongst our student body. It is with great pride in their personal and corporate journey, and their leadership roles that they have naturally assumed, that I present them to you. It is their TIME.

“Take you wise men, and understanding and known among your tribes and I will make them rule over you.”

Deuteronomy 1: 13



"Daoud, you can call me David."

"I am Adnan."

"My name is Kristina."

"I am Jadlin."



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