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The Boy and His Horse

“So you know all about me?” asked the boy. “Yes,” said the horse. “And you still love me?” asked the boy. “We love you all the more.” - Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.

“Before being employed by SOHF at Horses for Hope my life was normal. I should maybe explain more, in the period of being released from captivity and beginning my new life with the horses. Since I came back I have looked for work. There was no permanent work. I took every day jobs that I could find, in the camp, in the city, even in Erbil. I knew that many were afraid of me, but there was always a lack of work anyway. Every opportunity to work that came my way, I took it but my life had no form, no color and no meaning to it. When I was not working, and there were many many such times, I would kill time on my phone. I knew that was not a solution but that is all we have inside the camp, internet. I knew it was not good for me, so I tried to use this time with my mobile for good, I would check up on my friends who were with me in captivity, when I saw that they needed something I would let Miss Lisa or Dr Saeed know so that we could try to find a way to help them. That is when I began to get closer to them and build a relationship.

“When things go wrong you’ll find they usually go on getting worse for some time, but when things start going right, they often go on getting better and better.”
- C.S.Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

I know my past, I did many things that I had to do to survive the black flag people, things that I am not proud of, things connected to captivity. When I was released I began again at zero with no immediate family, only myself to rely on. I knew that everyone would look at my past and would get stuck there. Springs of Hope were different, they gave me a chance. It has taken a couple of years to build a relationship of honesty, transparency and integrity.

Then Miss Lisa gave me a chance with the horses. She was straight up with me, she told me that she loved me but if there is one security issue or mess up, she will throw me out. We understood each other, and I respect that.

In the last month, my life has changed. Everything about my lifestyle is different. I learned how to dress like a cowboy. I have forgotten about my phone. I go to bed early, I wake up very early in the morning and I know that two horses, Taj and Nawroz are waiting just for me . They are always on my mind, they are my last thoughts at night as I lie there slowly falling to sleep. I hope that they will be comfortable during the night, that they will sleep well and have good dreams.

I feel responsible for them. I had many responsibilities when I was in captivity, none of which were positive though I became a responsible man. The horses depend upon me and Barzan. They look to us for everything. I feel responsible for the stables, for the security, for the beauty, for everything. Kids have wandered down from the village to look, I am always kind but I firmly send them home. Some cars have driven up to us as our building stands out. I am polite but tell them that this is private property and they can't be here.

It means the world to me to have a permanent job. I never would have believed that Springs of Hope Foundation would employ me. It means so much to me to be a horse trainer. Slowly I will be able to build myself up and to take care of my family, even have a family one day. This is a great achievement for me.

“ We have such a long way to go,” sighed the boy. “Yes, but look how far we’ve come,” said the horse. - Charlie Mackesy.

I know that I am still learning and it will take years to learn but I see how I have changed in one month. Until now my past weighed heavily upon me, I had many negative thoughts, my past always invaded my present. My psyche was struggling. For the past month, my mind has been clear, my sleep good, my thoughts and my focus are sharp and are directed. I see that being with the horses is healing me. They both bring me such comfort and such joy. They are therapeutic. The stables, the horses, the nature, this is my happy place.

My desire is for Horses for Hope to become a happy place, a safe place for others who like me were rescued from ISIS. Most of us are orphans in need of comfort, in need of joy and in need of a friend. It will be so good for those rescued from ISIS to have a reason to wake up in the morning, sometimes it takes us so much effort just to force our eyes open. The horses will be their reason, they like me will come to know that the horses are waiting for them, and need them. They will come and touch them, talk to them, feed them and enjoy the clean air and the beauty of nature here. This is a place for healing.

This is more than a job. This is my life, all of my life. They may be horses but they are now my family, like children, they are my responsibility. We have bonded, mentally, physically and spiritually. We have begun to feel each other, to know each other’s needs. This is a good journey."

- Daoud