From the moment Dakhil was born, there was always someone to play with.
Born into a close-knit family in the mountain region of Sinjar in northern Iraq, he was immersed into the kind of life so many rural families treasure for their children. There was space to explore—neighborhoods, mountains and wide skies.
There was security in the large group of extended cousins that all grew up together—with the kind of belonging that forms your character. The older siblings and cousins taught the younger and they all looked out for each other. Cousins were in and out of each other’s houses so often that an outsider would be hard-pressed to know which children belonged to which family.
Dakhil was always the quiet one. From childhood, he’s never been much of a talker. But he takes everything in.
When he grew up, Dakhil decided he wanted to raise sheep. His father bought him his first flock. He and his sheep wandered the beautiful land of his ancestors that he knew so well. His life was simple, but it was rich in so many ways that mattered to him.
When ISIS came to Sinjar in 2014, they swept from town to town bringing a frenzied force of destruction. They killed all of the men and older women, leaving behind open mass graves. They enslaved the women and girls, selling and trading their young bodies for the militants’ own pleasure. They plundered everything of value and destroyed what they couldn’t carry off.
The life Dakhil’s family had known for centuries was over in just a few days. His house was blown up with so much force that it blew some of the bricks half a mile away. But he and his family were the lucky ones—they escaped.
On our first visit to the aluminum and PVC training course, we found Dakhil quietly working at assembling a set of stools. Stools are one of the first projects that each student learns to build—it gives them a chance to develop accuracy with their measuring and cutting while only using small amounts of material.
At the end of the course, when students choose a personal project to tackle, Dakhil picked the most ambitious project of the whole class—a wardrobe. The instructors didn’t think he’d be able to complete it by the end of the course, but he surprised everyone—he was the first one to finish their project. His teachers had been fooled by his quiet nature. Just like in childhood, Dakhil didn’t speak much, but he’d been taking everything in.
This training course changes so much for him.
His extended family fled and found shelter where they could all live together, just as they had in Sinjar. The bonds between this family was the one thing ISIS couldn’t steal. But brotherhood alone can’t put food on the table.
Life has been hard for Dakhil in the years since his family fled. There are too many refugees and displaced people competing for too few jobs in an economy slowed by war and a financial crisis. Dakhil is responsible for his wife and three children, but the skills that gave him a good life in rural Sinjar didn’t prepare him for their current situation.
Now, thanks to your investment in his life, the help of his talented instructors, and his own hard work, Dakhil has skills that will help him provide for his family. And as soon as it’s safe to return, he’ll be able to help rebuild his hometown by creating and installing windows, doors, and kitchen cabinets.
Best of all, a dignified profession that provides steady income means that Dakhil will be able to rebuild a life for his family back in Sinjar, where his children and their cousins will finally get the chance to explore the land of their ancestors. Dakhil dreams of his children going to school and getting an education.
He hopes that when they are grown, they too will choose a life rich with family—the kind of life that can never be stolen.
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