This is part two of Sozan’s story. Read part one here.
“I’m afraid,” Sozan told us, when the time drew near to give birth to her son.
Only months before, she and her family had fled from ISIS. Not everyone made it. Trapped on a mountain, surrounded by militants, Sozan’s 7-year-old daughter died of starvation.
Faced with such a hellish reality, what future could Sozan possibly offer her newborn son? Life in a leaky shipping container—a refugee with no opportunity, no education, no future?
It wasn’t always this way.
“Our life was normal before. Our children went to school. Our families had homes. We worked hard.”
Sozan was afraid, but she was not alone. Because one year ago, you defied evil with love.
You defied indifference with your difference-making power.
You chose to show up and love anyway.
And that love? It moved mountains for Sozan and other refugees just like her.
Your love brought lifesaving aid to thousands of families besieged by ISIS.
Food, water, warmth for winter. Your love flew an airplane over ISIS-controlled territory, delivering thousands of pounds of food to families who were besieged on all sides, who refused to bend a knee to ISIS.
Your love put refugee kids back in school.
More than 20,000 of them in Baghdad, Kirkuk, and other cities—places that usually only catch our attention when something terrible happens. Your love made something beautiful happen: Muslim and Christian children, many of them displaced by ISIS, learning side by side. Learning to love and not hate. Learning to wage peace and not war.
Your love empowered dozens of refugees and their families.
Women like Om Hassan. Fadeela. Abeer. Madeeha. Sikoot. You helped them start bakeries, corner shops, and other thriving businesses—providing income, dignity, and hope.
Just last week, a group of Sunni women who were persecuted by ISIS took their first steps toward starting new sewing businesses. They picked the equipment and sewing material out themselves, everything they need to stitch together a new life.
Last month, she launched her own soapmaking business. This time a year ago, it was only a dream. Now, thanks to you, it is a reality.
Sozan and her sisters are making beautiful, all-natural soap by hand. They’re selling it to their neighbors in Iraq. It’s being distributed among displacement camps—helping stop the spread of cholera and other waterborne diseases. It’s even being sold in the U.S.—a simple, tangible reminder that the sisterhood is strong, that we belong to each other.
You have not forgotten that. You have not forgotten Sozan. You have shared this journey with her—from death to life, from desolation to hope, from fear to promise.
“I am afraid,” Sozan said more than a year ago. Nothing can erase what ISIS took from her, but you’ve helped her write a new chapter over this past year. “We can make a living,” she says now. “If all of you hadn’t helped us, we simply couldn’t have made it.”
There is more to this story, though—because Sozan’s journey isn’t done.
Stay tuned for the part three tomorrow.