Randa shared: “Before I came to this women’s program I would become angry quickly when any issues came up. But since I participated, I feel more relaxed and I am not getting as angry as before.” When asked what she remembered that helps her, she said: “The example of the coke bottle”. In that particular session the women received a coke bottle as gift, as a reminder of how pressure builds up and needs to be released just like the pressure in the bottle needs to be released if it is shaken.
Syrian refugees and Yezidi women have experienced trauma and need a healthy outlet to live in community, express their frustrations, and discover their value and innate characteristics. Due to war and insecurities more than 200,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Northern Iraq where they live both in and out of camp settings. The Yezidi people group are an ethno-religious group of under one million people who live primarily in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province. Repeatedly victims of ethnic violence, the Yezidis were once again targeted when the Islamic State attacked their heartland in Sinjar. During this time at least 5,000 men were killed and 5,000-7,000 women captured for use as slaves and brides for ISIS fighters. A large percentage of Yezidis are traumatized and live as Internally Displaced People in Northern Iraq.
Operation Mercy conducts Shine programs with Syrian refugees and internally displaced Yezidi women. During the program these women go on a journey to discover and understand that they have worth, strength and purpose. In 8 sessions these 3 main concepts are worked out through lots of interaction, group activities, learning and fun. The program offers some tools to help the women to cope with the trauma they have been through and also to be able to live their day to day lives in the refugee camp. Operation Mercy plans to continue to implement this program especially amongst Syrian and Yezidi women who have a disabled family member.