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Ending Strong


I was not planning to write this week as we are in the midst of the prep for the August 3rd memorial but after an amazing picnic yesterday, I decided to put pen very briefly to paper and share mostly photos with you. The tension in the camp is high, it can be smelled and tasted. Combine the “anticipation” of the eighth memorial of the Yezidi genocide with the scorching heat of July / August, I think that you can imagine the highly charged, yet totally worn out atmosphere. One of our girls returned yesterday having spent three weeks in a village alongside a newly opened mass grave. She identified her father, and two of her brothers according to their dust covered clothes. We are continually seeking to rise above the heaviness, at times it is almost a struggle with forces that seek to strangle the life out of a person, to achieve that, to go up higher, to choose the path of joy when under the shadow of death. I decided that we needed to end the seventh year of the genocide, strong. With laughter, with restorative memories, with the knowledge of belonging, of being surrounded by family, albeit a non-biological family but one who is sensitive to their mood, their needs, and provides for them. Just over the mountain is a wonderful, cool, refreshing spring which tumbles into something resembling a lake. Whatever it is, it is cool water with a great picnic area to the side. We packed up 80 of our teens (our little people will have their trip this week) and took them out for the day. Food, singing, dancing, hanging out with friends, laughing, joking,



“The picnic was great. It was so important to go out now, our minds and hearts were full of dark thoughts. I was weak with carrying a great sorrow. We threw ourselves into the cold water, which woke us up and totally refreshed us. Being with our closest friends gave us the strength for the hard days ahead of us again.”




“I would like to thank you for the opportunity to go on this wonderful picnic. It was my first picnic, and the first time that I visited Bandawar falls. Honestly, I had such a wonderful picnic and as much as I can thank you, it won’t be enough.

Right now, I can’t hear or speak but I understood everything, and somehow I could even hear the sound of the water. I loved the water, the view, my friends, the food, and taking pictures. It gave me great strength to be in this wonderful place. God bless you.




“The picnic was very beautiful. You gave us the opportunity for a new beginning. You gave me the chance for a new beginning in life after I was recently rescued. You accepted me into your program, teach me everything and helped me with everything I needed. Then you invited me to a picnic! Actually, I knew nothing about a picnic or how it would be, what we would do because I have never even heard of one before. It was totally amazing and wonderful, and so important to be with friends right now when the smell of genocide is in our faces again.

It was healing to be in a quiet, clean place, with a view, with water, and to receive a hot, clean lunch served with love. The camp is too much to bear at the moment. Thank you for my picnic.”




“Oh I needed this picnic. The camp heat and dust was killing us, everyone is tense and stressed. We just dived into the water because we all swim very well. It’s an amazing feeling to come from the heat and tension and throw yourself into freezing, fresh water. It wakes us, it clears our minds, it washes the negativity away.

It gave us a new beginning. Thank you for the picnic and for always providing a new beginning for us.”



We ended strong. We have prepared eight gates to walk through on August 3rd. The last of which is amazingly the Gate of New Beginnings. Not that the kids know that…


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