Escape From Mount Sinjar The Fight For ‘Life’

Ravine’s mother was nine months pregnant when ISIS captured Sinjar, killing thousands of Yazidis and forcing tens of thousands more to flee. Together with her husband she fled into the nearby mountains where she gave birth to a baby girl.

They named her Ravine—the Kurdish word for “escape.”

The small family remained on the mountain for 40 days with no escape from the cold and with the ongoing threat of death all around them. They recall the fear and the misery of those days—and how the one thing that kept them fighting for survival was that of keeping their newborn daughter alive.

Eventually the lack of food and clean water forced them to begin a long and dangerous journey through Syria to Duhok.

It was months before they reached the Sejea village where they were reunited with some of their relatives and neighbors. Unfortunately the living conditions didn’t improve much—like many displaced Yazidis, their only option was an abandoned and unfinished building that provided little shelter against the cold.

By then Ravine had developed a fever and was having difficulties breathing.

Ravine’s parents brought her to the mobile medical unit (MMU) International Medical Corps ran in Sejea. I was working at the MMU that day and diagnosed her with pneumonia.

Provided with the appropriate treatment, the six-month-old girl quickly recovered from the condition and her parents decided to give her a new name. They called her Jian.

“Jian means life,” her father explained. “We changed her name because we wanted to forget those terrible days of escape and suffering. We want to remain hopeful about the future. International Medical Corps has made this possible for us.”

I will never forget Jian’s story. We are so happy we got to the family in time. Jian stands for hope and for life. She is a true inspiration to me, her family, and the whole world.

Dr. Harith Suhail Khattab is a senior medical officer for International Medical Corps based in Dohuk, Iraq. He worked in the mobile medical unit in Sejea village from November 2014 – June 2015.

Editor: Larissa Schneider, Media and Press Officer, International Medical Corps UK

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