Katiba Returned
Determination on Coming Back was Stronger

March 9, 2018 at 6:58 pm

Nineveh, March 2018, Katiba Hassan during sewing, photo: Muhannad Sinjari


Muhannad Sinjari

“I cannot believe that I came back home, and I convince myself that what happened was a dream, and although we faced many hardships, but the determination to go back home was stronger.” This is how Katiba Hassan Khalaf describes coming back home.

After three years of displacement, in late 2017,  Katiba returned to her town in Bahzani (northeast of Mosul) and repaired her house with her brothers after it was burned and looted by the so-called Islamic State organization (IS) during its takeover of the Kasbah in August 2014.

Like all displaced people, 46 year-old Katiba experienced great difficulties from the moment of their displacement until they returned to their homes. She dedicated her life to her brothers after her parents’ death. She became the mother and father of a family of four, as she is the oldest child among them.

“Fear still afflicts me, like a physically and mentally crippled disease. It was a very cruel moment when fear, sadness and anxiety merged with the unknown fate, I cannot forget the news of the occupation of IS organization of Sinjar, that morning was the darkest morning of life”, Katiba explains how hours changes life forever.

In spite that the attack of IS was on Sinjar district west of Nineveh province, but the people form Bahzani and Bahesheqa north of the province  were full of fear as they are of the Ezidi component, which was targeted by the organization in a large-scale campaign.

“After a long night of sadness, vigilance and crying, we decided to leave the house in the direction of Dohuk, just like the rest of the families who packed their belongings to leave. After news of the progress of a number of areas adjacent to our town north of Nineveh, we lost all confidence, before sunset on August 5, 2014, we left our home to the Lalesh Temple, where the majority of the Ezidis had been sheltered during that difficult period” said Katiba.

Before going out to the car, Katiba looked at her house and every inch of its walls, its yard and even its simple furniture, and she also looked at her sewing machine, it felt like she would never come back.

Lalsh, October 11, 2017, Yazidis celebration, photo of Muhannad al-Sanjari


She left Bahzani with her family and went to the Lalish temple near the province of Dohuk where thousands of Ezidis from various areas of the Nineveh Plain gathered in it, a few days later, what Katiba was afraid of finally happened. IS took control over the districts of Tlkef, Beshika, and the rest of Nineveh Plain. This forced everyone to leave Lalish temple and head towards the unknown.

Katiba had to live in a commercial store in Shindokha area of Dohuk. Months later, after the security situation stabilized in Sheikan district, they moved there and settled in the village of Essian.

“The house was very small for us, but we were better than many other families. During that period I got a sewing machine through a humanitarian organization. I began my work sewing women’s clothes. After a while, the number of my clients, the majority of whom were displaced from camps in the Sheikhan district, increased. My work helped me pay the rent of the house together with my brothers, and paid for our daily needs” Katiba said

In the displacement, Katiba was forced to practice (sewing) career with a simple and modest machine, and managed to support herself and help her four brothers, two of them married and have two families.

Katiba returned to her home in Bahzani after being saved from the grips of armed IS by the Peshmerga forces. After completing her house renovation, she began to practice her profession and now has many customers.

Katiba is currently developing her career and is trying to buy a large sewing machine, to meet the demands of her customers, who are daily increasing and diversifying.

“The situation is the same as before, and we are constantly improving,” says Katiba “What we are suffering from is the elimination of memories of displacement and homelessness.”


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