Nadya, age 11 is reflected in the glass of a small schoolhouse within the Bajad Kandala Camp. Only seven years old when she was forced to flee her home in Sinjar Nadya hopes to return one day and dreams of being a teacher.
Night falls inside the barbed wire fences of the Bajad Kandala Yazidi Displacement Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. Beginning on August 3, 2014, the Islamic State attacked the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar, killing thousands and taking just as many captive, the young men forced to fight and the women sold for their bodies. Those that survived the attack fled Sinjar and though some have begun to return to start rebuilding tens of thousands remain displaced throughout northern Iraq. Located a few miles from the Iraqi-Turkish border, the Bajed Kandala camp is currently home to over 9,000 displaced Yazidis.
When the Yazidi community from Sinjar was forced to flee from ISIS in August 2014 the education of thousands of children and young adults was disrupted. Today, in the Bajad Kandala camp in Iraqi Kurdistan some NGOs and a host of Kurdish volunteer teachers are working to aid in education efforts. Though classes are only for a few hours several days a week if one is to walk through the camp they will see children and young adults studying in their spare moments, many working to learn English, all doing so in the hope of finding a good job.
Samir uses a heating lamp to warm the inside of the tent she shares with her three children. The winter in the Bajad Kandala Yazidi Displacement Camp brings temperatures well below freezing. During the August 2014 ISIS attack Samir and her children were able to escape but her husband and two brothers chose to stay and fight. Nearly five years later she has not heard from any of them and assumes they were killed or taken captive.
Even with scarce resources, food remains an important aspect of the Yazidi culture and community. On this day, January 4, 2019 women from the community had spent the morning and part of the afternoon preparing a feast to celebrate a recent birth within the family.
Displaced persons, and especially those living in camps for long period of time are resourceful and entrepreneurial. In the Bajada Kandala Yazidi Displacement Camp there is a dirt road where residents have set up small shops and stands selling food items, offering their services or selling good they have brought into the camp. Amir, originally from Sinjar, sells gold jewelry items and uses the income to support his family and neighbors.
Ghalya comforts her cousin Nerows as they walk to the small market within the Shariya Yazidi Displacement Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.
During the winter months, as the day comes to an end, the Bajad Kandala Displacement camp can take on a cool, bluish hue as many residents end their days. With limited electricity and few able to afford fuel and generators, daily life within the camp is largely dictated by the sunrise and sunset.