top of page

Dispossession and Legacy

One of my favourite pastimes is people watching, particularly when it comes to our students. I watch their faces and oh how I have seen faces and expressions change over the years. That would probably be true for many of us, right? Our facial expressions reflect our journey, the valleys and the mountain tops.

Our journey reminds me of the Euphrates, winding its course, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, sometimes uninterrupted, sometimes wading through murky waters that are darkened by unchallenged generational patterns and habits, sometimes tempestuous and sometimes glorious. Sometimes its path is straight, sometimes serpentine.

Such has been the journey of our Academy of Music. I use the term “Academy” with deliberation as it has taken four years until I could trust myself to say that with accuracy. Our music departments have reminded me of the winding nature of our great river. Our music staff are great friends, they were born and raised in Shariya village together, members of the same tribe, somehow inter related. Yet could they, and would they work together? Oh no!! Best buddies who God forbid that they should “work together”, “unite” or “cooperate” unless of course it is to take the daily “selfie” together.

After years of watching the commitment of the students, their level of dedication, the hours they put into private practice, even their struggles with families who wanted their progeny to pursue “more worthy” callings in life, I decided that once a month we would have a Music Recital with all groups, piano, guitar, saz, and daf coming together. An attempt to jumpstart unity, coming together with a purpose, goal and meaning.

That worked, but it didn’t. “The students were awesome. Our staff were lacking. “Miss Lisa I have an appointment with the endocrinologist on that day at that time, let the others play, I will join next time." Excuse me!! Or, "Miss I have to go for an appointment at the German consulate in Erbil, maybe I will leave the country, next time I will participate”. Etc. And so on and so forth. Often times in the struggle for music, I thought of Gertrude Bell, and forgive the total lack of context, but then, maybe not, “If we can pull this thing off, rope them together, if we can make them work together and find salvation for themselves, what a fine thing it would be." The Letters of Gertrude Bell. I share your sentiments sister! Visiting musicians would come and go, hold impromptu jam sessions on guitar, drums, keyboard and with vocals. Our students would come to life, here was heaven on earth, their vision was in front of their eyes, attainable, yet our staff were holding on to their positions of being the hindering spoke in the wheel rather than the spoke on which the turning hinges.

Natik. Director of The Hope Academy

At the beginning of 2022, the wind changed. No more doctors, no more consulates. The wonderful news was delivered “I am ready to build an Academy of Music.” Truth was spoken and enacted upon. A new baby was being born. Natik went into action with a drive and dedication previously unknown.

Our musicians would barely go home, every spare minute of their day was spent hanging out in The Hope Centre, practicing, planning, singing, experimenting. The hills truly were alive with the sound of music. Sheer joy was on their faces. Today I proudly present our first joint recital or musical event which took place on the day following the Yezidi New Year. A wonderful new beginning to which families of the students were invited.

When writing these updates, the unfolding story of our Mesopotamian journey, uppermost in my mind has always been the verse from Proverbs 31;8 "Open your mouth for those with no voice, for the cause of all dispossessed". Through sharing small parts of our life, we present their voice, and also hand over to them as they discover theirs.


“I am Adnan, and I have been a part of the SOHF family since the day they opened. In fact, I was one of the kids who threw rocks at them because they built on the only piece of land in the camp where we would hang out and play football. I began with recorder and today I am gaining skill in recorder, flute, keyboard and rhythm. I love music. I live for music. My parents were happy for me to learn music only because they knew it kept me off the streets, away from the kids who were bored and angry in the camp. Today, they see the value of music in my life, they see how music has changed me, how the discipline is affecting all my studies. They have also come to understand that SOHF exists because of good people who love the Yezidi community supporting us, encouraging us and praying for us. My parents recently divorced and I moved to a different section of the camp. It was Springs of Hope and my music classes that kept me stable and grounded during this painful period. My Mum came to the recital. She told me that she was blessed to see me participating, to see my talent and to see the framework of love that I spend my time in. .”