In Dohuk, WADI has opened a center for former captives and escapees of ISIS violence. The all women led center provides psycho-social support, medical support, educational opportunities and most of all a place to heal.
Since September 2014 WADI has provided medical and psychological aid for over 800 women and girls who have escaped from being held as slaves by the so-called ‘Islamic State’. Hundreds cases of sexual slavery by ‘IS’ have been documented and reported to international media, in an effort to have these crimes recognized internationally. In total from September 2014 to today thousands of Yazidi persons have been supported. As an organization with deep roots in the area, WADI was able to have unique access to these women and girls.
The Jinda Centre opened in July 2015 as a long-term response to the overwhelming needs of women and girls who have escaped or been rescued from Daesh (ISIS) captivity. When they arrive in the Dohuk area, these women and girls, are in urgent need of care. Although we do not wish to sensationalise their experiences, it is important to understand that many (if not most) have suffered extreme violence, torture, beatings, forced conversion to Islam, sexual violence, captivity, and being sold as slaves. Many have seen entire branches of their families killed, others have lost their husbands, brothers, and have their male children forcibly taken from them. Upon their return, they are in a fragile mental and emotional state, many feel conflicted about having ‘made it out’ while others are still held captive.
H. a 32 year old women with 6 children, who lost 24 of her family members due to ‘ISIS’ violence, now living in a refugee camp described her serious depression “I can’t stop thinking about my family, I’m always upset”.
There is also be a lack of understanding for what these women have gone through from their family members or larger community. On the contrary instead of receiving support some become targets of harassment and insults, especially in the larger camps where tensions exist between the different groups. Understandably many suffer from depression, strong feelings of guilt, and some show suicidal tendencies.
“When they first arrived, they were collapsed, totally. Psychologically, health-wise — everything, step by step, we are reintegrating them into society.”
Cheman Rasheed, Director of Wadi’s Dohuk program
The women are initially met by our Mobile Teams which are all women led and provide the point of first contact, as well as determining which cases are in need of immediate medical, or psychological assistance, which they then coordinate. They also explain what the centre has to offer and encourage women to give it a try. Our teams are experts, and operate with professionalism, kindness and discretion, and are well liked in the refugee camps and the area in general.
Vocational Training and Arts and Crafts at Jinda Centre
The centre follows up on the work of the Mobile Teams by offering an inviting and pleasant (all woman) space where groups consisting of up to 35, are offered in depth counseling treatment, vocational courses such as crafting, knitting and sewing, agricultural skills, social activities, and most of all a safe space where they can share their experiences without judgement. In Kurdish ‘Jinda’ means new hope, and that is what the center stands for, a place to regain strength, and hope, and start new chapters in their lives. With the knowledge they gain from different vocational courses, the goal is that they can provide for themselves and their families financially, and feel proud of their accomplishments.
Individual cases are addressed based on need, be it health care, legal assistance, psychological aid, help with bureaucratic procedures. The staff have been trained to work with traumatized victims of violence, specifically sexual violence by UNICEF, Salt Foundation, Heartland Alliance, UNESCO, and the Jiyan foundation.
The Jinda Centre also serves as a coordination hub for all the Yazidi activities in Dohuk. The Mobile Teams described above coordinate their work with the centre, follow up on its clients after their treatment, and continue to provide any assistance necessary. This has created a lot of trust in the community regarding the assistance work provided by WADI and Jinda. The project has received international and local media attention. The Jinda Centre is now an independent NGO, as part of WADIs long standing strategy of providing support to local actors who then remain an integral part of our network.
Since September 2015 Jinda is registered as a local NGO in Iraqi Kurdistan.