IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: I am afraid of bombing. (And there is shelling too)

9 April 2012
IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: I am afraid of bombing. (And there is shelling too)

by Kathy Moorhead Thiessen

[Note: Remember to sign up for the 24-hour prayer-a-thon for peace to support displaced Colombians.  In coordination with the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia (DOPA), the Colombia team is seeking prayers from all over the world over the course of a full day. Click here to sign up for an hour, alone or with a group, between 6:00 pm Saturday 14 April 6:00 Sunday 15 April 2012.  Light a candle, sing, meditate, read a story, or just sit quietly in the presence of God.]

Me: I like the colour blue. What colour do you like?

Boy: I like the colour black.

Boy: I like the colour yellow.

Me: I like to go walking for fun.  What do you do for fun?

Boy: I like to swim.

Girl: I like to play guitar.

Me: I am afraid of very loud thunder. What are you afraid of?

Girl: I am afraid of snakes.

Girl: I am afraid of bombing.

Teacher: (And there is shelling too)

The Iraqi Kurdistan team had made the three-hour trip to Sunneh, in eastern Iraqi Kurdistan to teach English.  Not exactly the mandate of CPT, but we see these monthly trips as a way to become acquainted with some of the eighty pupils in the school.  We would like them to be part of a video narrating their life in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, telling what it is like to be part of a village that is shelled every year from a country on the other side of the mountains.

Though they have had to face bombardment many times, the summer and autumn of 2011 brought the worst shelling that Sunneh and surrounding villages have experienced.  The villagers had to again vacate their homes and take a few belongings to tent camps out of range of the shells.  At the end of October, the government authorities came to the camp and informed them that water tanks and generators would be removed the next day.  They were to return to their homes as the government deemed the area safe.  However, the authorities did not take into account the fear of the families or the nightmares of children.

The villagers had no choice but to go back to the houses and land that should have provided food for the summer and stored goods for the winter.  One man said that he usually gets fifty to sixty bushels of produce from his land; the harvest of 2011 provided less than one.  Even though the villages are in the mountains the weather is still dry and hot.  The gardens and fields need constant irrigation.  When the farmers are in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, the crops dry out and die.

 Spring 2012 is here now.  The mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan are lush and green and the tiny fragrant narcissi are sprouting everywhere.  Hope could be here for a year of freedom from shelling, for the chance to run, play, and grow crops in peace, for sixty bushels of produce.

 However, government is building white rectangular cabins in areas beyond the reach of shells: the IDP camps will not be tents anymore.  But the construction seems based on the assumption that the cabins will be used.  The families will still hear the whistles and the explosions.  They will still have to run and leave behind houses, fields, and animals.  For, as one farmer told the team, “they have built these close to another village.  They will not allow us to bring our animals because they need the grazing area.  Our goats and cows will have to stay where it is not safe.”