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Capturing Hope: Yazidi women attacked by ISIS rebuild their lives and find beauty behind the lens

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Yazidi refugees find life in photography.

Just a year ago, the media was all focused on the Yazidi community. The members of the Yazidi religion became homeless after ISIS forced them to either be killed or move to Mount Sinjar in the northwestern region of Iraq. Around 40,000 people fled to the mountain, with least 500 of them brutally murdered by the Islamic State jihadists.


Catholic Online (
8/20/2015 (6 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Yazidi, Yazidi women, ISIS, UNICEF, photography

MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) A group of young women have found their refuge at a camp in northern Iraq, as they were brought together in the place by UNICEF. They were given a camera when they joined a photography course in the camp near Dohuk. Since then, things turned became new and hopeful for these girls. Now that these girls are the ones with the camera, they wanted to provide the west a glimpse of what is really happening in their world.

One of the girls, Bushra, who is currently in her teens, was just one of the many girls who are grateful for the photography workshop, and shared about her life-changing experience. Bushra and her family left their village after ISIS forced them to leave in the middle of the night; they were among the thousands of people from the Yazidi community who walked to Mount Sinjar.
After being trapped in the camp for nine days, they ran out of food and water, and she witnessed a lot of the elderly and weak die. She expressed her happiness for being saved and for being able to go back to the camp.

"I witnessed so much tragedy on [Sinjar] but now I feel like things are changing. This workshop feels like a breath of fresh air-to be a part of something again."

The workshop's coordinator, Nuha, noticed the change in Bushra. Before, Bushra was a very shy girl, but now, she is described as someone who is confident enough to approach people and take pictures, as Bushra is into taking portraits.

Bushra added that she joined the workshop, because she had hopes of becoming something better. Now she has figured out what she wants to be, and that is to become a photojournalist.

"I thought if I participated in the workshop I will learn something, become something, and achieve something great," she expressed. "And I've learned so much. I've learned to communicate with people but most importantly, how to communicate with people-what is the right approach."

The Yazidi girls have found a different kind of peace behind the lens, as they shared their stories of hope in the camp they now refer to as their home. Now, the cameras aren't facing on the Yazidi women anymore; they are now the ones behind the lens, capturing hope within their community.


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