“In order to be successful, women should be strong”; with these words Layla Beeso, 33, who defines herself as a strong woman, began telling her success story to prove that everyone could overcome the difficulties of life.
Layla, an Ezidi, has eight brothers and five sisters. She considers herself different from all her family members, because she did not give in to the challenges of life and made it through to success.
When Layla turned 7 she was admitted to school in her hometown of Shingal (Sinjar); however her family’s appalling condition forced her to abandon school in 2005 and couldn’t finish high school.
This was the first setback in her life.
She later began to work and used the money she earned to assist her family and help her younger brother finish school.
In 2008, Layla got married and gave birth to two children. In 2011, she returned to pursue her dream by participating in the external exams for the 12th grade in Duhok province, despite that 6 years had passed since she dropped out of school.
"I was able to take the ministerial exams, but I didn't get high marks. Besides studying I had to take care of my children," said Layla Beeso.
He hopes encountered another setback as her low marks did not qualify her to admit to a state-run university or institute, yet she never gave up.
Later, she was admitted to a private institute -The National Technical Institute of Management and Business- and completed her studies there successfully.
"I couldn’t complete my studies without the support of my husband. I often had to take my children with me to the institute," she said.
This was only a small part of the ups and downs Layla went through. The greater challenge she had to face was when the Islamic State (IS) group attacked her hometown Shingal on August 3, 2014.
“When IS attacked Shingal, I couldn’t sleep that night. My husband was in Duhok at the time. I was very afraid that I would fall in the hands of the extremist group.”
When IS fighters overran Shingal Layla left her home with her brother-in-law's family towards Mount Shingal and stayed on the mountain for nine days. Later they fled towards Zakho, a town of in Duhok province.
“Our life was very difficult during our stay on Mount Shingal due to extreme heat and starvation. After we arrived in Zakho I thought of a way to help the people still trapped there.”
Soon Layla began to do what she had in mind.
“My strength helped me overcome the difficulties. I started to work as a volunteer with a humanitarian organization which was distributing aid supplies to displaced families.”
She is now also helping those who lost their national identity cards during the IS offensive. So far she helped over 700 IDPs to obtain new ID cards.
In the beginning, Layla was sheltered in displacement camps in Zakho. She says there were very few job opportunities in the camp, and later decided to go to the city center and rent the house there.
She decided to start a new business and opened a travel agency. “In a very short time we our new business proved successful.”
Layla urges women and girls to believe in their potentials. “They can achieve success,” she says.
“Women’s job is not only raising children; they can compete with men in any field, and there are some women who can more successful than men.”