FAIRFAX, Virginia — Nadia Murad is a human rights activist, survivor of genocide and sexual violence and the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner. In 2014, ISIS attacked her home in Sinjar, Iraq in an event now known as the Yazidi Genocide. Murad was able to escape captivity and created Nadia’s Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to ending violence against women, and re-developing Sinjar to make it more equipt to provide for its people.
The Yazidi Genocide
Yazidism is an ethnic religion primarily present in Northern Iraq. On August 3, 2014, ISIS attacked the Yazidis in an act of ethnic cleansing. ISIS murdered those who wouldn’t convert to Islam. Women were forced into sexual slavery where they were passed around within ISIS. The United Nations estimates that 5,000 men died in the genocide and 7,000 women and girls were displaced or taken hostage.
Nadia Murad was taken into captivity but was able to escape and flee to a town where she found people who helped her get to safety. In 2015, Murad told her story to the United Nations in Switzerland to raise awareness of what is happening in Iraq. She later went on to publish two books where she transcribed all she underwent and eventually created Nadia’s Initiative which is revitalizing the town of Sinjar to make sure that such a horrific act would never happen again.
The Educational Situation
Since the attack, Sinjar’s educational facilities have been unkempt and abandoned. The schools are old and lack many basic supplies and the teachers are few in quantity. In fact, 67% of Yazidis report that there is no school within walking distance of their homes and 62% of children in Sinjar are out of school entirely.
Nadia’s Initiative is on a mission to refurbish and rebuild schools in Sinjar as well as supply students in the area with school supplies. The organization is improving primary and secondary education and has already made great progress.
Projects for Education
Nadia’s Initiative often teams up with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), a non-profit that funds ventures all over the world that are trying to improve living conditions, when they create new schools.
Primary schools’ facilities did not have enough equipment and children weren’t able to learn anything. This prompted Nadia’s Initiative to partner with Sunrise NGO to reopen Sinjar Kindergarten which provides kids with language lessons, basic math skills, hygiene awareness, psychological support and more.
Recently, the group filmed a video where they showed what a day-in-the-life a child who attends Kindergarten goes through and the video showed children learning, laughing, and being kids. Additionally, Nadia’s Initiative started the rehabilitation and furnishing of a primary school on June 27, 2022, in the Raska village in South Sinjar.
The improving education system has allowed more children to attend school, so Nadia’s Initiative worked to provide furniture and school supplies to 14 different schools at the beginning of July. These schools can now enable more than 4,000 children to return to school and complete their education.
On May 31, the organization completed seven different schools that are disability accessible. The team worked to create wheelchair ramps and sanitary facilities that would allow children with disabilities to learn amongst their peers which would not only boost their confidence but help create a world where equality is the first priority.
Nadia’s Initiative is a groundbreaking operation that is changing the lives of people living in Sinjar. Aside from education, the group also reconstructs wells and pipelines, funds women-led entrepreneur enterprises, rebuilds roads and power lines and even tries to provide better, more specialized health care. Nadia Murad is a widely compassionate and revolutionary woman who is using her own trauma and experiences to make sure that no one will ever have to live how she did.
– Yashavi Upasani