This is a story I will never forget. I may not meet them again, but the face of the teary-eyed father and his traumatized daughter is imprinted in my memory. We were delivering water and food to a neighborhood that had been under ISIS captivity for four years. The people were thirsty and hungry. Most of their homes were destroyed. The streets that once bustled with life and trade, were now piles of rubble. All around me were hues of grey and brown. Dust covered everything. The only speck of life I saw, save from the hundreds of people lining up to get supplies, was some green weeds sticking up through the concrete next to a broken building. It reminded me of life’s resilience. This was Mosul, a town in northern Iraq, one week after they were liberated from ISIS.
"We believe that all children are resilient and courageous, but war destroys what is most beautiful and innocent in them. Rebuilding their broken hearts so that they can live their lives knowing love and trust will be the focus of all the work we do. In order to do this, we need a team."
Then, forcing his way through the crowd, came a man with a desperate look on his face. He held the hand of his daughter, perhaps 12 years old. Her gaze was vacant. The father, whose name was Abdul*, told us that when ISIS attacked the neighborhood, his daughter, Shabana, was hit by shrapnel. Her arms were injured by the blast and were disfigured. But, Abdul cried, her arms were a small problem compared to Shabana’s destroyed soul. -Please help me, he begged. -Help me heal her heart.
That day I only had water and a bag of food to give to the ones whose hearts were so damaged. My reassuring smile seemed of little value. I thought of all the other children who had seen things no child should see, who had heard the screams of loved ones, who had been face to face with evil, and who had lost the confidence in adults. With such experiences to carry, how could they ever be able to thrive?
It is response to these children’s plea for help that we are starting Novi, and organization dedicated to helping children overcome the trauma and pain of war and conflict. We believe that all children are resilient and courageous, but war destroys what is most beautiful and innocent in them. Rebuilding their broken hearts by training caregivers to address their trauma, develop a deeper sense of belonging with their community, getting them back into the classroom, and having nutritious food to eat is our focus.
This is why we want to invite you to join the Novi community. We need you in order to help the children, like Shabana, heal from the traumas of war. This is what you can do:
· Sign up to get regular email updates from us https://www.novi.ngo/join-us
· Sign up to support this work: https://www.novi.ngo/donate
· Tell your friends about us.
· Write us a message and tell us what you think.
Welcome to our community,
Oddny (Luke, Steve)
*Names changed to protect identity. Photo is not of Abdul and Shabana but of another event in Iraq.
Hanna is from Kharkiv. Last week, she went back to her war-torn home.
When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out, ‘Stop!’