I spent my winter break working and living in Bajed Kandala, a Yazidi displacement camp in Iraqi Kurdistan, a few miles from the Syrian border. I went with a desire to better understand—who was this persecuted ethno-religious minority beyond the often simplistic narrative of a community largely reduced to their victimhood?
Beginning with an attack by the Islamic State in Sinjar, Iraq, on August 3, 2014 the most recent data asserts that nearly 9,900 members of the ethnic and religious minority were killed or captured in a matter of days. Today, more than four years later, nearly 200,000 Yazidis remain displaced; of that, approximately 9,000 call the Bajed Kandala camps home. I went as a volunteer with Joint Help for Kurdistan, an NGO with an all-volunteer staff comprised of displaced Yazidis that live within the camp. The JHK team serves their community during the day and returns to their tents at night.