62-year-old Muhbat Kheder, a Yazidi woman living with her children in Sabahiya village (Sinjar City), lost her husband and escaped to Kurdistan during ISIS’s genocidal attacks on the Yazidis in 2014. When ISIS was preparing to invade Muhbat’s village, she became incredibly terrified and suffered from exponential levels of stress and anxiety. Fortunately, Muhbat’s nephew helped her escape to Mount Sinjar.
“I was in a very difficult situation and all around me, families were crying as they didn’t know if they would survive this ordeal. We were trapped in Mouth Sinjar for six days and were suffering from starvation and thirst. Afterward, we were able to escape towards Syria and after six more days, we reached Kurdistan”, Muhbat states.
Muhbat ended up living in an IDP camp in Kabarto for approximately 2 years; the camp had very limited access to food, healthcare, and education. After Sabahiya Village in Sinjar City (Muhbat’s village) was liberated from ISIS control, Muhbat was able to return to her home along with her family members, who survived ISIS’s brutality.
Yazda, along with its partner Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB) with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the support of its partner, has provided support for Muhbat to open a grocery store. Prior to ISIS’s attacks, Muhbat and her family were living a happy life, where she was helping her husband manage their small grocery store; while they lived a simple life, Muhbat’s family and her neighbors lived a life of joy and pride, a life that ISIS single-handedly destroyed with its brutality.
Muhbat’s new lease on life has not only allowed her to enjoy managing her grocery store, but it has made her more driven to expand her knowledge on running a small business. To add, Muhbat is planning to develop her small business and wants to help her family and community through her grocery store.
“I am grateful to Yazda and ASB as they have helped to change my life. Now, I can support my family and my community. Additionally, my 12-year-old daughter is helping me with accounting and book-keeping as I have limited knowledge about financial matters”, Muhbat states.
Muhbat hopes that other organizations can replicate Yazda and ASB’s work to empower the socioeconomic status of her community; “This is one of the best projects in the region and I hope that other organizations can implement such projects to empower my community, who were devastated by the genocide”, says Muhbat.
As a continuation of this project, Yazda has opened 32 non-agriculture businesses and 10 agriculture small businesses so far; furthermore, the Yazda team is in the process of setting up 22 other small businesses projects.