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The Road to Recovery Begins

The Road to Recovery Begins

Fatima’s story

“I have always loved tailoring and wanted to pursue my studies - but for me, following my dreams and passions has never seemed to be an option.”

Fatima was only 10 years old, when her father took her out of school. “In our home village in Iraq, educating girls was not seen as necessary,” Fatima explains. 

When the young girl was 14, her parents divorced and her father remarried. She was then sent to live with her aunt’s family, where her aunt soon found her a husband.

“Marriage brought a new set of responsibilities, so I could not continue with tailoring, one of my greatest hobbies,” Fatima says.

Fatima has now been married for 11 years. The 30-year-old mother of four lived with her family in Mosul City under ISIS occupation for two years.

“Once the Iraqi military offensive to retake Mosul began, we decided to flee to protect our children.” Leaving behind a brother in ISIS captivity and a sister still trapped in ISIS-controlled West Mosul, Fatima reached Khazir M1 Camp in mid-November 2016.

Fatima had reached safety but the last two years had taken their toll on her. Depression, loss of appetite and sleep disrupted by nightmares were regular companions throughout her days and nights. Her relationships with her children and husband suffered.

“There was no relief, no peace of mind for me,” she recalls.

Mosul’s displaced — who, as of the beginning of April 2017, numbered around 300,000 — survived over two years of brutal ISIS rule only to be bombed and blasted from their homes during the battle for control of the city. Many lost loved ones or were injured in the crossfire. Some were used as human shields by ISIS fighters. All are uncertain if or when they will return home.

International Medical Corps is providing medical care, mental health care, psychosocial support services and gender-based violence prevention and support to people seeking refuge in displacement camps east and south of the city. As areas in Mosul became accessible, our teams, with funding from the European Union’s humanitarian budget and OFDA, started to help clinics get back on their feet caring for patients after more than two years of neglect under ISIS rule followed by conflict.

At the time of Fatima’s arrival, International Medical Corps had launched mental health and psychosocial support services with a number of outreach workers recruited from the local community to raise awareness about available services in Khazir Camp.

An outreach worker visited Fatima’s tent and, after hearing about her current depression, referred her to mental health staff who welcomed her warmly. Fatima took part in several counselling sessions, and was followed up closely by the organisation’s case management team.

Additionally, International Medical Corps helped facilitate arrangements for her to participate in recreational and tailoring activities – allowing her to continue her childhood hobby once more. Fatima also began to participate in a number of group activities organised by the team.

Slowly, Fatima’s nightmares began to decrease and her mood began to lighten. 

I feel much better. Now, I can express happiness with my family, I can be active socially within the camp community, and I have started volunteering in the camp to help others like me.

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