Mariam lived in Qaraqosh, Iraq, but she was forced to flee with her family when ISIS took control of the area in 2014.
First the family was homeless and without work, then it was forced to live in the Persivi displacement camp. This experience still scars Mariam. She remembers being woken up by screams one night as the tent next to hers burnt down. The family next door didn’t manage to save their baby girl, who was still inside.
The family’s displacement affected the father enormously as he struggled with feelings of desperation at not being able to work. He took his anger out on the family and beat the mother, Mariam and her brothers. More times than not, Mariam’s mother protected the children and took the beatings herself.
Eventually they moved from the camp into a small house in Persivi in the Dahuk Governorate. Mariam’s mother cleaned houses for a small wage. The work was hard and conditions difficult and exhausting. Mariam looked after her younger brothers and sisters while her mother was at work.
During this period, Mariam heard about Caritas Iraq’s Zakho centre. Among the programmes there were offering were psychological and social programmes provided to help people overcome the trauma of war and displacement.
Mariam had had so many unanswered questions about why here family lost their home, why her father couldn’t get a job and why things were so hard for them. Her participation in the courses gave her the chance to find answers to most of her questions.
Through a conflict management course and with guidance from Caritas, she learned that God always chooses the best for us even if we have gone through difficulties. The courses helped her understand the need for patience and faith in God when facing life’s hardships.
Mariam thanked Caritas for opening up a different perspective which enabled her to manage the many difficult situations she had gone through.
Caritas has served almost 400,000 people in Iraq since ISIS started attacking communities in 2014. Caritas Iraq currently helps 5000 families a month with programmes for psychological support, education, livelihoods, COVID-19, health, shelter, peacebuilding and developing the roles of women and youth.