The Young Yazidi and the Sea

Η Khansa είναι μια νεαρή Γιαζίντι 17 ετών, η οποία αναζήτησε καταφύγιο στην Ελλάδα μαζί με τη μητέρα και τα αδέρφια της, μετά τη δολοφονία του πατέρα της.

LESVOS, Greece – Home for 17-year-old Khansa was a rugged land-locked area of northern Iraq in the shadow of the sacred Sinjar mountains. Although she had seen sea before she had never attempted to cross it, since as a member of the close knit Yazidi community, she was unlikely to travel too far from her ancestral lands.

But in 2014, Khansa, with her mother and four siblings, fled to escape invading ISIS militants, who killed her father and hundreds of other Yazidis. The family found shelter in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, but life was tough and they still feared for their safety. Last year, they flew to Turkey and, following in the footsteps of many other Yazidis, they paid smugglers to take them across the Aegean.

For the first time, Khansa saw the harrowing face of the sea. She soon learned respect after nearly losing her life trying to cross it to Lesvos Island. “The sea is scary,” Khansa observes in the safety of Kara Tepe, a family friendly municipal accommodation site on Lesvos. “It was very hard when the boat was being hit by waves. We thought we were going to drown.”

The memory is still raw, but Khansa is adapting well to life in Greece. “I like computers, I like school, especially English language lessons – and I would like to learn to play the piano,” she reveals. “I am happy that we came to Greece. We are not afraid to be here. It is a safe place and we like it, she adds. But on the cusp of adulthood, she still faces many challenges.