Malkaa (61)

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‘I grew up with seven brothers. One became a doctor, one a military officer, another a police officer. As for me? I was always outside, busy on our farm. I married a wonderful, strong man who would do anything for me. I have a son and six daughters. When my son was born I was the happiest woman in the world.

Over the past forty years I’ve lost my seven brothers to conflicts in Iraq, and my son to leukemia. He died at night. I didn’t wake my daughters, and I didn’t cry. But I kept thinking, “you could have been like my brothers. You could have become a doctor, an officer, you could have stood up for your sisters.”

I let my girls go to college. They married good men and they provide for themselves.

My losses made me anxious and depressed. So I worked. Outside, inside, long hours, until we were forced to flee due to terrorism. I ended up in this village, where I have no land and no garden. I am always inside – home, home, home – there is nothing to distract me from my sorrow. All the pent-up emotions of forty years overwhelmed me. I didn’t know how to cope with it.

Finally I told God about my hardship and sadness. Slowly I began praying for hope, for protection. Now I pray for Muslims, Yazidis, Christians, even for animals who are being mistreated. I cannot explain it – apart from God just being God – but I’ve found peace in these prayers, even joy.

I cry now. I couldn’t do that twenty years ago when I lost my son. Sadness and patience were each other’s enemies. Now they’ve come together in my heart. I feel strong and confident, because I know that no matter what happens, I won’t lose patience anymore.’

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