Awaz’s fiery determination to make a difference is obvious the moment you meet her. “When I can’t help everyone,” she told us, “I feel it deeply in my heart.”
She’s one of the many brave activists MADRE partners with in Iraq. As part of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), our local partners, she helps run the brand new shelter and rape crisis center we opened in Kurdistan for Yazidi girls fleeing ISIS sexual slavery. There, she’s a mentor and a friend to young girls whose lives have been devastated by ISIS. A trained social worker, she listens intently and gives counseling to help these girls heal.
It’s not easy work. The girls that she supports at the shelter have endured unimaginable trauma. Some have seen their entire families killed by ISIS. Others have survived repeated rapes. And many have lost their confidence and their trust in others. It’s hard for them to even remember what a peaceful life looks like. Despite all this, Awaz has made it her mission to help these girls rebuild their lives.
The shelter has been open for a few short months, but already, over 30 women and girls have received food, medical aid and counseling. Still, Awaz strives to do more. Anyone who knows her, she says, knows she is a hard worker with the courage to get things done. Now, her biggest goal is to expand the shelter and the services she is able to provide to Yazidi girls.
She knows that, with support, she can achieve this goal. And she sees this as an important stepping stone to healing Iraq. When she thinks on Iraq’s future, she’s confident things will improve. “Let me tell you something,” she says, “women and girls can achieve a lot when we support each other.”
Your support as a MADRE member launched the shelter that Awaz helps run. Learn more.