She turned 9.

Dearest loyal reader,

Do you sometimes live a moment in your life where you want to pause it forever, one of those picture perfect moments?

Zhala and S. I had to capture one of their long, tight hugs.

I remember a few summers back one day at the orphanage a little girl had come with three of her brothers. She was about five or six years old at the time, but was too tiny for her age. In fact they were all very thin; unhealthy, thin children. The story of why they came is a long one, but they were the type of kids that would hide from you, that would never say a word and didn’t want to be close to anyone.

Pink, Hello Kitty cake, just like many 9 year-old girls she loves the colour pink.

They were traumatized. Fast forward to 2015, and that little girl just turned 9 years old. Thanks to Zhala, the director of the girl’s section of the orphanage, a beautiful little celebration was created to celebrate her birthday. I enjoyed it more than I have enjoyed any of my own birthdays.

If she stayed with her family who would’ve known where she was or how she was treated now…

It was one of those moments in life where I wanted to press pause and live it… forever. The nine-year-old, S., was dressed in a new dress – just as someone who had a mother would go out and buy their daughter a special dress for their birthday party. She had beautiful little ballerinas on, also new. Her hair was beautifully styled, just as a mother would style her daughter’s hair for the birthday pictures. She felt special. She felt loved. She would go stand behind her cake…the humble and quiet S., just smiled posing for photographs, her eyes spoke a million words.

04Every time I looked S., went to Zhala and gave her one of those very tight hugs where she crosses her hands all around Zhala’s waist. She was so appreciative of everything.

The nine year old is like a mother to her three brothers. She grew fast. She is the chubby, cute, quiet little girl today who goes to school and loves mathematics. If she wasn’t hugging Zhala she was around her younger brother.


What a beautiful moment it was. There are some people in Kurdistan who change people’s lives forever, Zhala is one of those kind hearted individuals who does exactly that and suffers a lot along the way.

With her youngest brother.

I wonder when this little girl grows to be 19, what type of stories she will have to tell, and what type of girl she will grow into…. for the first time in a long time I have hope in our orphanage.

Lots of love from

My Nest in Kurdistan


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