My Story
Amira Shingali: savior of Ezidis
Amira Ato Sulaiman, 28, known as Amira Shingali

I want to become a UN ambassador

By Farman Sadiq

Amira Shingali: savior of Ezidis

  • 2022-08-03

Amira is a teacher with children to pursue their passions and talents; For the oppressed, she is a human rights defender and wants to erase the effects of the violence left by the extremist militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS.

Since fleeing the hands of Daesh (ISIS), the Ezidi (Yazidi) girl has been constantly searching and trying to learn, knocking on many doors to convey the case of the missing and trying to convince the international community to recognize the atrocities of August 3rd, 2014 as genocide

That year, when ISIS took control of Shingal (Sinjar) and other areas of Ninewa province and large swathes of Iraq, in addition to killing hundreds of civilians, over 6,000 Ezidis were held captive, and up to the present, over 2,700 of them are still missing, thousands of families are stll dispalced.

“Despite the displacement, suffering and difficulties of life in the camp, I decided to work as a volunteer to help the victims of the disaster,” Amira Ato Sulaiman told KirkukNow.

Amira, 28, and her family are from Khanasur community in Shingal. They went through obstacles and dangers until they reached Mount Shingal, then went to Syria and then headed to Duhok Northern Province. They have been living in Bersvi camp in Zakho district for eight years.

Amira Ato (Amira Shingali) in traditional Ezidi attire. Facebook account of Shingali

“Our first two weeks in the camp were very difficult. The sadness and pain of the incident were deeply touching when I contacted humanitarian organizations and wanted to work as a human rights defender,” she said.

Shingali wanted to tell Shingal stories never heard. She recalls how the elderly and the disabled were dying of hunger and thirst.

She participates in a number of training courses to assist refugees and provide psychological and social support to victims of ISIS violence.

“I didn't let displacement stop me and took the initiative to work as a volunteer with foreign and local organizations in the camp.”

The camp where the she lives, Bersvi II, has a population of more than 7,000 out of 664,000 internally Displaced Persons IDP living in the Kurdistan Region, most of whom are from Ninewa and 30% are Yazidis, according to official statistics from the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.

The library was an opportunity to open several training courses for the refugees

“For the first two months of the displacement, I worked as a volunteer and understood how to work in the IDP camp.”

Shingali’s rush to help refugees and survivors of ISIS comes at a time when none of her family members have fallen into the hands of the organization, with her parents and sisters escaped safely, but some of her relatives have been killed and kidnapped.

For several years she worked as a psychosocial support directorate with the Sinjar Organization for Social Development (SOSD) – a local NGO established in 2013.

Amira spends more efforts and believes she can better help the oppressed Yazidis in other ways, and she sees the fulfillment of that desire in opening a library.

“I opened the Amira Shingali library to read and borrow books. I had several goals; the most important of which was to encourage children and youth to read and complete their education, as well as to provide psychological and social support to war victims.”

ameera atto (45)
Duhok: Reading activity for children at Amira library in Bersvi camp II. Shard by Shingali with KirkukNow

The library is more like an educational community. It has two large rooms full of books, three halls and a square courtyard. It was built in 2019 in Bersvi II camp. There are more than 50,000 books and magazines, sometimes stories are given for free to children.

She has collected books from Mosul, Baghdad, Duhok, Erbil and other cities through personal contacts and efforts.

“The library was an opportunity to open several training courses for the IDPs, including reading and literacy courses for illiterate women, learning English, tailoring, drawing, crafts and sports.”

The library has held over 200 different training courses for more than 2,000 people.

I really wanted to help the women survivors to get out of their psychological condition and calm down a bit

“I really wanted to help the women survivors to get out of their psychological condition and calm down a little bit, so I always encourage them to visit the library, learn to read and write, and we have always had courses or awareness campaigns under different names,” she added.

While she spares no effort to help Yazidi children and IDPs to pursue their dreams and help them psychologically, she lost all her childhood and adolescent dreams.

“My mother wanted me to be a doctor, but I wanted to be an army officer, or a pilot and fly all over the world yet all my dreams have gone,” she says.

She was fan of football and handball, sometimes wanting to become a fashion designer or travel the world as a tourist.

However, Shingali does no regret about her current situation and finds her success in not giving up on displacement. An example of this success is the praise and titles of centers and organizations for her efforts, because she is an honorary member of several foreign organizations: honorary degrees, designations as one of the Personalities of the Year and goodwill ambbassador.

ameera ato 2022
Some of the honors and certificates received by Shingali. Shared with KirkukNow

From civic activist, humanitarian worker to the Miss Iraq pageant, she sees it as an opportunity to better serve the cause of the Ezidis.

In the 2021 Miss Iraq pageant, Shingali did not have the chance to win the title, but many people inside and outside the camp call her Miss Zakho.

Her family still resides an IDP camp and cannot return due to the destruction of the war and the damage to their house.

She tries to get more opportunities: currently spends most of her time with her library and plans to expand it beyond the camp, but she needs help.

“Not only that plan, but I want to become a UN ambassador and be more open to humanitarian work. Though this achievement requires more work yet nothing is impossible for me.”


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