The only way through it is through it…


Everyone in the community was shocked by the hanging. But he had suffered in the camps in Nepal. He had his Bachelor’s. He had a family, a job at IBM. But he couldn’t handle any more burdens. He wrote about the debt–he couldn’t do with American debt. But I don’t think that was it. It was the suffering before. That same day a woman had hung herself, in Australia, from the same community.

-Aide Worker


Once I was a little girl, playing in the rain without a care in the world. Other children my age were splashing and kicking up mud as the rain cleansed our bodies, our minds. For me that is the strongest memory of my motherland, Kenya. Now, as I have traveled around America over the past several years and have the chance to reflect on that little girl in Kenya, little me, I realize the choices for her were limited, but now as I have grown up in America, I know I have many choices and many opportunities.

I remember the day when my parents told us that we were coming to America like yesterday. I would never forget it because I was leaving behind everything I knew and didn’t know what I was coming to. At the time, all I knew about America was that they had big huge skyscraper looking buildings and escalators that would cut your toe off. Which at the time I didn’t know what it was called but I found out later that it would be one of my biggest fears.

Migrating from place to place, my parents had to leave everything that they owned, which wasn’t much, but coming to a new place as refugees made everything so impossible. I remember getting off of the airplane and seeing so many American females wearing jeans with their hair opened. I thought they were boys because they didn’t dress like me and as I come to find out later, they thought I was a boy, even though I was wearing a skirt.

Because we were a family of 9 at the time, the government didn’t have a house to set us in yet. They were still looking. They placed us with a family that was related to us and we stayed with them for a few days until we got settled. At the age of eight, everything surprised me. The house, the bathroom, the beds, and the kitchen. The bathroom was so different from the ones we used back home that when I saw it, I thought I was going to fall in. It made the flushing sound after I pressed down the flush button and I ran out of the bathroom with my pants down to my ankles. It was at that time when everyone ran from the living room to find out what was going on. I was told by my aunt that, yes, the bathrooms did that here and that it was nothing to be afraid of. Everything felt so hard to do because to me it was all fancy and I wasn’t used to it.

I came from a refugee camp, where we slept in mud-made beds or on the dirty, hard floor and suddenly out of nowhere, we were sleeping in cozy mattresses with warm blankets. We went from all of living in one room to living in a house with a huge yard, a big kitchen, two bathrooms, 4 bedrooms, and a living room. I mean I didn’t even know what a TV was. When I saw sesame street for the first time, I thought the puppets were real. I went from drinking chai in the morning to drinking and eating Soda and Hot Cheetos. I was amazed with all that I saw. However, somehow, I was missing my life back in Dadaab where everything seemed simple and easy to do.

The reason my family and I moved to America was for freedom and many opportunities. With the war that was going on back in Somalia, my parents never had the opportunity of getting an education. When my parents found out about America and the freedom that we would have here, they didn’t hesitate to try and do everything they could to get us here. Back when I was in Kenya, I heard that America was a place where you can become anything you would like and no one was there to stop you. My parents moved from Somalia because it was not a safe place to be at. They wanted to provide us with many opportunities that they didn’t get to have.

I have been here for 13 years now. I grew up here in America. I went to school here. This is the place where I call home. I started from elementary school and in a couple months I will be graduating the University of Arizona with a degree in psychology and journalism. Thanks to my parents for providing me this chance of a life time and for always being here for me. Without them, my siblings and I wouldn’t be where we are today. Today we consider ourselves fortunate enough to be here amongst the other refugees who became citizens.



I came to the Arbat Camp in Sulamaniya after the Ninawa crisis of 2014, when Sunni extremists invaded Mosul. I lived in the famous neighborhood of Muhalaby. I’m 64 years old, an old Sunni Turkmen, married to two wives, with six children. They all live in the same tent now. I used to have a farm of 1,250 hectares, in the villages that surround Mosul. I grew vegetables and grains, employing many. My brother and thirty-one other relatives were killed in the insurgence. I am now responsible for the daily needs of thirty people—with no income. I have chosen to be Mukhtar to the 102 families (617 individuals) of the Arbat Camp.


I traveled from El Salvador by bus — with my two year old son. When we got to the border of Nogales we were apprehended by Mexican men (el gente mala), who said they were with the El Chapo Cartel. My son and I were taken to a house on the outskirts of the city–up in the mountains and the hills. I was grouped with 7 other people, two men, two women, and three other children. A man on a horse patrolled the house, would pace back and forth every ten minutes. There was a whole network there, drug runners, protecting marijuana and some other drugs.

The men threatened me–told me they would rape me, kill my son and harvest his organs. I told them he is sick–he has had lung problems since he was a baby and they could tell by his coughing that I wasn’t lying. They gave us only a little water and food to give to the children. We adults only took sips of the water to stay alive. They threatened they would kill us and told us our family needed to send them money to set us free. They took photos, video of us. We strategized to escape, even though they threatened that if we did they would hunt us down. After eight days, we deicded to chance it. We left at 10pm and walked until 5am, when we were picked up by the US Border Patrol/ICE.

Th agents asked me if I was afraid. I said yes. They didn’t ask me why.


Peshmerga and Shia are destroying villages which are not mixed (Kurdish and Arab); they are just Arab. Peshmerga and Kurdish authorities are trying to push Arab villages away from the  borders.



-Arab married to Kurd


Everyone Is Suffering from Something

“ISIS is a group of youth* who suffered violence–from Arab regimes—have twisted religion and come to the Iraqi community with the support of Turkmen ,Arabs, and nefarious people in our community. Jihad is supposed to be an advocacy for good. But people are now suffering from violence Jihad is not about killing people.”


What about the term, “Arab Regimes? As you see on TV, there are international people with ISIS.


“Yes, because they are also suffering. “


From what?


“Everyone has something he is suffering from.”



“So you do think killing Yezidi-s was/is a good thing?”


“Prophet Mohammed used to live with Christians. He said, ‘you have your religion, and I have my religion.” In our Quran jihad doesn’t mean killing people. The first thing that ISIS was found upon was that there is no justice in Maliki’s government, so that was the primary reason for ISIS. It isn’t good that the Yezidis were killed. They were the ones who always administered circumcision for our Islamic boys. Sunni-s in the city were close to the Yezidis, we knew them well. We knew their children well. Now they are gone.”

*youth = men under the age of sixty



-ISIS supporter

Iraqi Militia

IS is not as bad as the Iraqi militia. They have humiliated us, put us in jail, killed us and thrown our bodies in the streets. Daesh  came to protect us–they’re trying to take the lead, they’re just like a political party. Right now they have the power over the Sunni population.

Most of the Sunni tribes support Daesh–ISIS believes Shia are infidels, so as infidels they should be killed. But for the Sunni tribes they aren’t as concerned over the religious stuff; they hate the way they are treated. They hate that the Prime Minister isn’t Sunni.


-Sunni Youth