Imagine being driven from your home and community due to unspeakable conditions and violence. This was the reality for Amel Hskan, who at just 17 years old lived survived an ISIS attack in her homeland of Shingal, Iraq and lived through the Yazidi Genocide where 3,000 Yazidi were murdered and 6,000 taken captive in 2014.

After Shingal was destroyed, Amel fled to a refugee camp. Despite the horror and intense loss she had just endured, she spent her time focusing on the future, continuing her studies with a determination to never give up.

Amel has been living in Nebraska for almost a year after fleeing from Iraq with her family. When she arrived in Nebraska, she received assistance from Lutheran Family Services and is currently enrolled in college courses at Southeast Community College in Lincoln. Amel has big dreams of becoming a doctor and is studying medicine, a field she wanted to learn after witnessing health disparities first-hand in her homeland.

August 3, 2017 was the third anniversary of the Yazidi genocide. While Amel is determined to achieve her dreams in the United States, she also is determined to live in honor of the thousands who had their dreams taken away in an instant by terrorism and hate. She wrote a poem to reflect and educate on the horrors of the genocide and horrific acts of ISIS soldiers:

“Imagine just imagine, I am a girl 17 years old. I live with my happy family in an area called Shingal, where the majestic mountains and green fields, where there was love and peace.

My mother prepares our breakfast, my father prepares for his work, my brother is sleeping on the roof, my sister dances with butterflies in flowers field, neighbor kids play in neighborhood, and their laughter reaches the sky.

Calm, peace, safe, quiescence, love, laughter, beauty.

At that moment I felt like I was in a part of heaven, it was earth’s heaven.

Wait, what are these sounds!! I called mother, mother what are these sounds?! I went to the garden, the sky was black with smoke, flowers were sad, I smelled the blood in everywhere.

I called mother, mother where are you? Isn’t my sister here, where is she? Where are you?

Why you don’t respond, where are you?

Oh, my brother sleeping on the roof, he will explain for me. I went to my brother.

Brother, brother wake up; how can you sleep with these sounds, wake up, brother, brother.

That smell was my brother’s blood, my brother is killed on his bed, my brother is killed on his bed. Please tell me it’s a nightmare, please tell me it’s a nightmare and I will wake up.

What do I do? Where do I go?

I will go to the mountain. I will go to the Sharphaden temple, the nightmare will end there.

I opened the door to go, I saw a head cut off from someone’s body. No, no, no, no he is my dad, it’s my dad’s head no, no. What a nightmare that never ends.

I ran from there to the mountain with my tears and pain.

Wait, what are these black flags in the way? What are these ugly alien beings with disgusting beards. I will run, they will not see me.

While I was running, I stumbled with a stone and fell on it, I saw a child buried under it and his empty bottle beside him, he died of hunger.

While I was shocked of that child, they saw me, they stood in my way, oh my god, they are coming closer. I screamed and screamed, help, help, no one heard me, no one helped me. Leave me, where you take me. Leave me…where am I? What a dark place this is? Mom, you are here mom, mom why you don’t speak? Mom.

My mom just repeats this phrase: Three monsters raped your sister in front of my eyes.

Three monsters raped your sister in front of my eyes, raped your sister, your sister.

Mom they are coming, mom they are taking me they will put me in the girl’s market, they will sell me to the countries with $10. Mom, they are taking me….

What is that? A prison full of girls, who is this, little girl like a nymph. I asked her why you don’t eat your food. She answered, I don’t want to eat, if I ate I will grow up and if I grow up they will take me and sell me.

I don’t want to eat.

I don’t want to grow up.

I don’t want to grow up.

They came to take another girl, the girl yelled at them, and said kill me, kill these girls. You just dirty monsters, you just insects, you just mice.

You killed my brother.

You killed my father.

You raped my sister.

You captured my mother.

Kill me, kill these girls.

But you can’t change my religion, it’s in my heart. You can’t hide my nation, we are a nation that doesn’t know defeat, our slogan is peace. We had 74 genocides over time. We didn’t die and we will not die.

Kill me, kill these girls but you can’t hide my nation.

We will remain on Shingal mountain tops in Sharphaden temple.

We will remain in Shikhan oil, we will remain in Lalish in Zemzem holy spring, we will remain in Baashika olive, we will remain in flowers’ thorns, in dew drops, in plains and valleys.

We will remain in children’s tears and women’s cries, we will remain in bleeding sea and martyrs’ blood.

You can’t make our nation ashes, we will stay alive.

Our women drawing their sadness with trees’ tears, they buried their children with human’s sentiment, but they will stay alive.

Those were last words she said, we will stay alive, and then she killed herself before ISIS raped her. In that moment I realized it’s not a nightmare. It’s truth. It’s a reality. It’s a reality.”

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