So you call yourself Loyal Blog Reader/ Follower? Prove it.

Hello to the most Loyal Blog Reader in the world,*
I know I am not writing on what you are used to reading on Mandalawi.blogspot but please forgive me. I find it a little awkward to write on the great things of this city while we have more than 150 000 Kurdish ‘refugees’ coming in from neighboring Syria.
love, hate; life and death; optimism and pessimism all in one single photograph
Give me a little bit of time to take all this in, and I promise you I will go back to being your ultimate guide to life in Kurdistanakam (more in particular Hawlerakam)^
As I promised in one of my previous blog entries, [did you know you can actually click on that last sentence! So proud of myself![ Anyhowwww I went back to the Domiz Refugee Camp in Duhok (with the most amazing A.K. and R.B.) and once again trained over 40 young people. In total I have spent about two weeks in Domiz, and I can easily speak for A.K. and R.B. too that we are determined for us to go and stay there for a long period of time in the near future to do what we love to do.
The team


I can write for ever about my most recent visit. But my dearest reader, you and I need to make a deal. I will tell you about some very very veryyyy special people in Domiz (the people that not a day passes without them coming to my mind) and how you can help them. If you can assist any of these individuals–actually ‘assist’ is the wrong word, more like if you can change the lives of these individuals– then just drop me an email. Deal? Loyal Blog Reader, don’t put me down. Please. And if you like I won’t tell anyone about it. Come on, it’s a deal.
We (A.K. and R.B.) fell in love with Hamoo. In fact, everyday the UNFPA staff at Domiz send us pictures of Hamoo, he can’t speak, but now when they pass the phone to him he tries to speak to me and R.B. on the phone. We don’t know exactly what disease he has (A.K. says its down, I guess it is autism) but that is not important. What is important that this little boy is being bullied and abused by other children—and adults—in the camp. He got used to visiting us everyday. He would quietly sit in the corner and draw. We looked after him by giving him snacks, involving him in the games (he is very very veryyyy smart, polite, generous and happy). Hamoo, is someone that I would love to have at home and give plenty of love to, and I hate any single person in this planet who disrespects him for a single second. He spends his day walking around the camp and now I hear that he is used to going by the UNFPA caravan everyday to spend sometime with the staff there in our absence.
Hamoo drawing
How you can help?
He loves to draw and he has a lot of imagination. Can you send him drawing kits? His clothes are always ripped and torn (can you send him some clothes? We gave him some new clothing and sandles, but we later realized some people in the camp had taken it off him. ARGH!!!), he loves cars—I know this for a fact because during the break he turned the empty Nescafe container into a car—can you send him toy cars? Perhaps something to keep him busy in the long nights inside the tent. But you will really be doing him a favour if you send him a little gadget. He spent hours taking pictures and playing games on my phone on it too.
One group of youth we worked with from Syria (Rojava) at the Domiz Refugee Camp

Shindar was the most quiet person you could come across. He had a little shop inside the camp but later sold it. He says he likes to be far from people, but I think it is not because he doesn’t like people, but within him he carries a deep pain for the suffering of other people. I realized he likes to know a lot about psychology. He has a deep interest on why people act a particular way–he attempts to analyze people’s actions. On numerous occasions he asked me few questions that I couldn’t answer (mainly about behavior of human beings). Shindar loves to read. If you can send him books in either Arabic or Kurdish about this I know he will take it somewhere far, sit on the sand with his back against a rock (I wish I could say a tree, but there is not a single tree in Domiz) and read through the pages. Shindar also has a dream to plan trees in Domiz. He insists that certain plants can survive even though there is a water shortage.

Speaking to Yusra, she works at the women’s center in the refugee camp
I know Yusra as Yasamin, because she is in love with Jasmine flowers. This is the most optimistic person you will meet in Domiz. She suffers a lot, but keeps it all behind a gentle smile. Yusra, is the secret box of the entire camp, as she works in the UNFPA women’s center. Every woman with a problem in the camp goes to Yusra. Many of the women find it shameful to go the center during the day, so they visit Yusra at ‘home’ after work hours to discuss their problems (YUP!!! You guessed it. You probably know how nosy I am when it comes to issues like these, I tried to get the most I can from her about some of the problems, but trust me it is easier interviewing Nerchirvan Barzani on the secret policies of the KRG government then asking Yusra questions on other’s women’s lives).
You can help Yusra by sending her a laptop and getting her an internet line so she can do research on how to help these women. If that is asking for too much, then make Yusra happy by sending her books (in Arabic) on how to deal with these women—she is getting training now— you can send her Jasmine plants–is there such thing? Or if you are very giving sponsor her and her family to get a house outside the camp because she is ill at the moment and doctors have said it is because of the sand in the camp. She has two young boys, maybe you can sponsor their education and I am sure that will make Yusra happy.

Rahm, walkin towards her burned down ‘house’


In one of the training days, 17-year-old Rahm’s tent got burned down. While she is petite in size, her face looks much older than 17, it is as though I see early signs of aging around her eyes, the sort I see around my own mother’s eyes. In the tent all their savings—money they had brought from Syria—also burned away.  Her family is now living with her married brother and a few other families in one tent ‘house’ (about 15 people in total). The day it burned down I witnessed the way Rahm cried, pointing at what was left from her ‘house.’ Yesterday, I got a text from her saying she is still in her brother’s family’s tent and she has had a proposal that she is going to accept. Yes, Rahm is going to get married. My dearest, I don’t know if it is because her family does not have the financial capabilities to look after her, or she is escaping from all the problems. But I know one thing for sure and that is Rahm is not in love.
This is what was left from the burned down tent


How can you help Rahm. Well, I will leave that to you. A girl and a family who lost everything; Everything got burned down and they have nothing left but the clothes they are wearing.
Najah is my new sister, she is my new best friend. She is only 18 and insists of going back to Syria even though it is war, “I want to follow my dreams and finish my studies,” she told me over and over again in many of our long walks through the tents in the early evening hours. This young girl is unbelievable. She has a dream of becoming an actress, she loves to act and she is so talented (I saw her shine as we got the participants to act out parts in a session where they were learning about better communication). I speak to her every single day and I can feel she is feeling sick and tired of life but is hanging on very tightly.How you can help? We need to find her an opportunity of entering acting school in Duhok. Her family will not allow her to come to Erbil and pursue this. I know it sounds very hard, but if you know a director in Duhok, a casting for a film (or a series) or if you know of a school that teaches drama then you will be giving back life to Najah.

Najah and I after one of the sessions- talking (and dreaming of her dreams)
For now I will stop here, but I will put a list of other people soon. If you can help any of these individuals email me s.mandalawi[at]hotmail[dot]com
Thank you! Zor sup as!** You are the best Loyal Blog Reader in the entire planet.
P.S. I have a surprise for you in the days or weeks to come. I promise!
* Why you are Loyal? Because when your Blogger disappears for a while you decide to email and ask if everything is alright, and for that,  I love you.
^ Sound unfamiliar? Kurdistanakam, refers to my Kurdistan and Hawlerakam, is my way of spoiling Erbil. By the way, in Kurdish we don’t say Erbil, we refer to this city as Hawler! J just some extra information which you may or may not be interested in knowing.

~ Name changed

** Zor meaning a lot and supas is thank you. I will leave for you to work out what it means 🙂 

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