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Envisioning new scenes: trauma rehabilitation offers hope in Iraq

Hana was nine years old when ISIS came. 

They came in the night, the sounds of war startling the family of 14 awake. Amid gunfire and circling airplanes overhead, Hana's family fled from their home in their father's car, passing scenes of death in a place that had, just hours before, held their life. 

For protection, they began traveling on foot at night under the cover of darkness. Starving and exhausted, they were spotted by strangers on the roadside and brought to Khanke Refugee Camp in Dohuk, Iraq. 

Hana still hoped that her time away from home would be brief and temporary. She looked forward to going back to school. 

She is now 13 years old and has yet to return home. 

Hana is one of 3 million internally displaced persons in Iraq. 

Violence between armed groups and government forces in Mosul has forced approximately 1 million Iraqi civilians to evacuate to safer governates since 2016, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Roughly 673,000 people cannot return home because of continued violence. Almost a quarter million Syrians have fled to Iraq as well. 

Since 2008, Tutapona Trauma Rehabilitation has facilitated psychosocial support workshops with those affected by the horrors of war and conflict. 

Committed to easing human suffering in all forms, the United Methodist Committee on Relief International Disaster Response provided Tutapona with a grant to deliver group trauma rehabilitation workshops to 480 internally displaced persons in Iraq. 

Funding from UMCOR has made possible the implementation of 12 workshops spaced over a year. Tutapona holds sessions separately for men and women. As of the most recent report from November 2018, six rehabilitation workshops have served 100 men and 106 women. 

Hana is one of the 106 women who have received trauma rehabilitation support from Tutapona. 

She recalls being afraid ISIS would come to Khanke. "Because of everything I had seen with my eyes," she says, "I thought they would come here, too. It was so hard to live a normal life again. It was so hard to live with those feelings." 

For Hana, the workshop not only offered a gentle space to recount and examine her experiences, but it also provided her an opportunity to hope for a future she may not have envisioned for herself. "Now, I'm thinking in a positive way," she says. "I'm much better than before. I want to finish school and go to college and have a future. I'm believing in God that good things will happen to me."

Hana will likely carry the traumatic effects of being displaced from home for years to come. The scenes of fear and despair will linger in her imagination. But with the care and support of Tutapona, as facilitated through a grant by UMCOR, Hana now holds the capacity to envision new scenes for herself, scenes full of renewal and hope.

Sara Logeman, content strategist for Global Ministries.

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God's love with communities everywhere. The special offering underwrites UMCOR's "costs of doing business." This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs.

When you give generously on UMCOR Sunday, you make a difference in the lives of people who hurt. Give now.

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