The force of self-awareness in Iraq with Asmaa Ibrahim and Jiyan Foundation

Why is there so much trauma in Iraq?

How was the war with ISIS so different to the other wars over the years?

What is the reality on the ground for women in Iraq?

Today I speak with Asmaa Ibrahim, co-head of Trauma Care and Health at Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights and assistant lecturer at the Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychotraumatology at the University of Duhok in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq.

We start this conversation understanding the history and the background to the country.

Asmaa talks about the stories from when the war broke out in 2014. And what she has heard from the people that she helps.

Then she explains what she does to help start the healing process.

Asmaa tells us one of her favourite techniques that she uses to help people heal from trauma.

We hear about how children were militarised and educated under ISIS.

And then what she and the Jiyan Foundation are going to do to reintegrate these now young adults back into society.

During this conversation Asmaa gives us a brief window into the life in Iraq. We talk about the culture. And she finishes explaining her anguish but also her hope.

I was left so reflective after this. Talking to people in other places is so important. Perspective is such an incredible thing, and conversations like this bring us all closer together.

There is a lot here. So grab that favourite beverage or throw on those running shoes, and enjoy this conversation with Asmaa.

And please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

00:00:02:05 – 00:00:27:03
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we unearth new ways of looking at ever evolving lights around the world. Seen from a number of different industries, cultures and backgrounds. But there’s one thing that unites everyone I speak to. They all want to do their part to make the world better in their own unique ways. It’s a uniting passion. Whether they’re from the commercial world, third sector or public sector from the Global North or the global south.

00:00:27:15 – 00:00:56:07
Philippa White
My name is Phiilppa White and welcome to TIE Unearthed. Hello and welcome to episode 62 of TIE Unearthed. Now, last week I had to reschedule a meeting. It happens to all of us. But this meeting and the reason for the rescheduling just felt different. I was meeting with a woman who works as a psychotherapist in Iraq supporting people who have been traumatized by ISIS violence.

00:00:56:22 – 00:01:23:08
Philippa White
We had to push the meeting back a little bit later. As the woman I was meeting with got stuck in traffic, returning from a refugee camp. The conversation left me so reflective. Talking to people in other places is so important. Perspective is such an incredible thing in conversations like this. Just bring us all closer together. So it was an absolute honor to have spoken with Asma again today on TIE Unearthed.

00:01:24:01 – 00:01:53:13
Philippa White
Asma Ibrahim is co-head of trauma care and health, a giant foundation for human rights and assistant lecturer at the Institute for Psychotherapy in Psychiatry Mythology at the University of Dohuk in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq. She was one of the first to graduate from the master’s degree program at the Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychopharmacology in Doha. And after graduating, she began to work in Jane Foundation’s women’s clinic.

00:01:54:12 – 00:02:22:11
Philippa White
Today, Asma talks about what happened to the women and children in 2014 at the hands of ISIS, how this trauma now manifests, and how she treats them. At the women’s clinic, we also talk about how ISIS radicalized children over the years and how she and Jane Foundation will be supporting the formerly militarized children and youth and helping them reintegrate into society.

00:02:23:14 – 00:02:40:00
Philippa White
And she gives us a brief window into the life in Iraq. And we talk about the culture. And she explains her anguish. But also her hope. There’s so much here. So grab that favorite beverage or throw on those running shoes. And here’s the inspiring Asma.

00:02:41:16 – 00:02:47:20
Philippa White
Hello, Asma. Thank you so much for joining us. It’s really, really wonderful to have you here with us today. Thank you.

00:02:48:24 – 00:02:50:18
Asmaa Ibrahim
Hi. Thanks for having me.

00:02:51:09 – 00:02:55:14
Philippa White
It’s a pleasure. So tell us, where are you right now?

00:02:56:13 – 00:03:06:06
Asmaa Ibrahim
Right now I’m sitting in a small room in a dorm. I can say that is a specialist for the lecturer in the University of Duhok.

00:03:06:14 – 00:03:14:19
Philippa White
Wow. Okay. And perhaps you can tell us a little bit about your your background. So are you from there?

00:03:15:03 – 00:03:33:14
Asmaa Ibrahim
No, actually, I’m from Sulaymaniyah Governorate and in Kurdistan and of course, our region of Iraq. And yeah, I’m here for work for I’m lecturer in the University of Duhok for the Institute of Psychotherapy and Equity Rheumatology and also working in Dream Foundation Branch.

00:03:34:06 – 00:03:47:09
Philippa White
So tell us a little bit about you and just I mean, you haven’t always been a psychotherapist. So tell us a little bit about your growing up and just a little bit about your background.

00:03:47:10 – 00:04:15:24
Asmaa Ibrahim
I was born in a in a small town near Sulaymaniyah City, and I finished whole school years there. And I finished a bachelor degree in university that is another city in Kurdistan. I actually kind of live in many cities around Kurdish them and I also applied for this master program into what university and I accepted and I finished and I, you know, I’m working there.

00:04:15:24 – 00:04:20:15
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yeah, it was a journey and now I am a PhD student in the same field.

00:04:20:19 – 00:04:26:12
Philippa White
Perhaps you can tell us why you got into psychotherapy. So what’s the story there?

00:04:26:16 – 00:04:56:19
Asmaa Ibrahim
Well, I was in the high school. I was watching a TV show that was first TV show for psychological issues, where you can say, I have seven siblings and, you know, we were kind of ten family members. And, you know, in the family members, there is a positive side and negative side. So, of course, this show really got my attention and that was the first time that I could find my interest in psychology.

00:04:56:19 – 00:05:32:05
Asmaa Ibrahim
That was some people can call that. So and to talk about the problems that they have, the host of the TV show answering and I was kind of interested in answers and I would like to have something like that or something specialty to help people. And I was small that age and the system here it’s not like you can choose whatever you want you you only apply and you will get a department and based on your grade.

00:05:32:16 – 00:06:01:04
Asmaa Ibrahim
And fortunately I got the clinical psychology at university. I was really happy to have that department and finish that and I was one of the top students there. Yeah, I started my first job with Ziya, the woman clinic, after finishing The Bachelor, and there I faced difficulties in experiencing psychotherapy therapy because we are really junior and the farms have really difficult situations.

00:06:02:02 – 00:06:29:10
Asmaa Ibrahim
And that’s why I decided to to grab the first opportunity to just get the master degree and learn more about that. And hopefully I got the scholarship and university that was a joint program between the University of Tubingen and University of Dog, and we were staying there and studying there, here. And yeah, it was the first one to move on to do look and being familiar with it.

00:06:29:10 – 00:06:35:19
Asmaa Ibrahim
And it is a really nice city surrounded by mountains like Sulaymaniyah. They are similar in that point.

00:06:36:03 – 00:06:38:01
Philippa White
Yeah, nice life there.

00:06:38:16 – 00:06:50:15
Asmaa Ibrahim
The dialect is different dialect of Sulaymaniyah so ranie and could AMG aspire to walk and it was one of the challenge that I felt my job of moving here and learning it.

00:06:51:03 – 00:07:06:18
Philippa White
Because you’re also talking about really important issues and things to get lost in translation, both you communicating, but also other people communicating. That must have been hard on a personal level, what do you do in your spare time when you’re not working?

00:07:06:18 – 00:07:34:10
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yeah. Beside going out. I like meditation. I would do it whenever I have a little bit of time, just 5 minutes. I like it and sometimes without anything to listen, but sometimes it is really I like to to have a guidance. Yeah, I listen to something and I just follow it. Is, is really one of the things that is calmed me down.

00:07:34:21 – 00:07:42:24
Philippa White
Wow, that’s really important. And how long? I mean, you said it could be 5 minutes, but how long do you sometimes go for if you’re meditating?

00:07:42:24 – 00:07:51:21
Asmaa Ibrahim
20, 20 minutes? Yeah, the longest would be 30 would be too long.

00:07:51:21 – 00:08:14:07
Philippa White
Then you’re always sleeping. Perhaps before we get into some of the more meaty questions that I have for you, obviously, about the Women’s Center and the other work that you’re doing, I think for our listeners, can you give us a little bit of context on the history in Iraq? Why is there so much trauma? Can you help us understand the culture?

00:08:14:07 – 00:08:45:07
Asmaa Ibrahim
You are actually one of the first description that I can say. This area is kind of a conflicted area, and this can be described like that. And it is the reality actually is the decades and more than more than 100 years of wars and conflict and crisis. It is internally and also with the external parties. There is too many traumatic events happen to the people inside those events that are happening now.

00:08:45:11 – 00:09:20:00
Asmaa Ibrahim
I mean, during war after that. And also there’s the one war is not finished, one woman, another one to started. And it is really, really kind of serious. A series of traumatic events kind are not, in fact, the generation that is experiencing the trauma. It’s kind of experienced. It will be transferred to the generation of those born yet in a direct and indirect way, because when the person change in the we can say they are bringing the children also will be changed.

00:09:20:03 – 00:09:43:03
Asmaa Ibrahim
It will impact on every aspect of that community to the area and it all to get better. And we know that the recent one was that ISIS were that came here and invaded so many cities and areas. Sinjar was one of those areas that invaded by ISIS in 2014.

00:09:43:14 – 00:09:46:02
Philippa White
2014. I wanted to ask you to date executives.

00:09:46:20 – 00:10:26:13
Asmaa Ibrahim
The August 2014 that was started from Syria, 2011 and so many refugees came from there to here with them. I mean, the fear is with them and just trying to follow them here as well and including Sinjar and the areas from we know that it was really kind of different different war. It was really systematic and brutal for the for the people that experienced actually especially Yazidis and the minorities in general, Christian.

00:10:26:13 – 00:10:45:20
Asmaa Ibrahim
And they were those who were not Muslim. And we know that this is not the real Islam that they were claiming for, but the best known as that till now and could be ten years later. We we cannot fix that. We cannot heal from these traumatic events.

00:10:46:04 – 00:10:56:21
Philippa White
Can you just help us understand in this context, but also in the day to day, just a little bit of understanding about women and the culture there?

00:10:56:22 – 00:11:25:09
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yeah, as you may already know, we can of say a collective society and we are focusing on having families. And you cannot go out from that family. Mean, even if it is horrible, things happen, you should stick to the family. And it is then where we can say long term induced beliefs that it was put before the religion and also the culture together knew.

00:11:25:10 – 00:12:03:16
Asmaa Ibrahim
We know that religion also can create cultures. Of course there is peoples, but they were not Muslim, but they were stick to the culture that came from the Islam or the other religions. You know, the exclusion is quite a big thing, you know, in collective society, especially in everywhere, but collective society in particular, and also one of the things that is really we can say a fact that the psychotherapy in general also it is a stigma, stigma and shame.

00:12:03:16 – 00:12:28:17
Asmaa Ibrahim
Shame is a big part of that stigma. That would be my project, the guilt shame, because it is really kind of important topic here that you cannot go therapy because of that. And the woman here now, it’s going to be kind of change here, especially in Kurdistan region of Iraq. We know that currently it is a prison in Iran.

00:12:28:23 – 00:13:20:13
Asmaa Ibrahim
So the person is part of Iran. We are saying East Kurdistan. Yeah, there’s a phrasing because of that. One of the women, Kurdish women there killed by the government of Iran, they are kind of protesting, protesting the words that they are playing for a they are repeating that women, life and freedom because they were forced to be hijab covered head of them in covered head body there’s not like that here in this shirt face but we still have the problem of killing women in the cities and also the area around is far from the cities, the rural area, we can say I think there is killing and also shaming women for doing something and blaming

00:13:20:13 – 00:13:42:20
Asmaa Ibrahim
it here. And there is all of those kind of problems. And yeah, there is still in those kind of rural area, there is females circumcision. If I’m not wrong about the word, it’s kind of it’s kind of stopped by law, but it is there because there is a belief they should do that.

00:13:43:01 – 00:14:15:08
Philippa White
It’s interesting, isn’t it, when you reflect on culture, I mean, culture is a funny word because obviously on the face of it, if you say to somebody, you know, all this, you know, I love culture, I love learning about different cultures, you know? And so, you know, there’s a lot that’s intertwined in that that’s artisan’s food, you know, you can have the beautiful part of cultures, but then there’s customs and then there’s oppressions, and then there’s forced ways of living based on a culture that has always happened.

00:14:15:22 – 00:14:44:19
Philippa White
And because it’s a culture, sometimes it’s hard to fight against it because that’s just what we do. Right? But as a result, particularly women in many places around the world, you know, corporate culture, I mean, this isn’t just in places like Iraq, you know, in the US, it’s culture that can it’s dangerous. And I think it’s people like you actually in the area that you’re working, helping open people’s eyes to doesn’t have to be like that.

00:14:44:19 – 00:14:48:11
Philippa White
And how can we slowly, slowly, slowly change things, right?

00:14:48:12 – 00:15:20:17
Asmaa Ibrahim
So in actually there is something that’s really totally normal for males, but if the female do not know, it is the end of the world, of course. And actually, there was another question in in another interview to me that do you like to have this position in your foundation that you were a head of program? I said, Oh, I am proud of that, but I shouldn’t be surprised or just proud of because I am a woman of having and having that position.

00:15:20:18 – 00:15:37:23
Asmaa Ibrahim
But it just I am a human to like man to have that. That should not surprise me and proud and I should and proud of only because I’m women. I have that. No, I should focus on my quality. What Watson was made me to deserve that.

00:15:38:02 – 00:15:56:04
Philippa White
And not actually not just because you’re a woman. Unfortunately with any kind of system. It takes it takes time, doesn’t it? But I think in the short term goals and the long term goals, right. So it’s sort of every day you’re working towards something. It is it is changing it just sometimes they are bigger than what we would like.

00:15:56:07 – 00:16:10:24
Philippa White
Now, you touched on it a little bit, but maybe there’s a little bit more that you want to say. Just I asked you how you got involved with Gyan and you said that it was one of your first jobs, actually. And that’s like opened your eyes to this world of psychotherapy and something that you wanted to immerse yourself in a little bit more.

00:16:10:24 – 00:16:25:11
Philippa White
So I did understand that. But is there anything else that you’d like to say about that relationship? Because I would really like to understand about the women’s clinic specifically, but I just don’t know if there’s something that you would like to say about your involvement with Diane and maybe how that relationships grown.

00:16:25:11 – 00:16:54:11
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yeah, maybe you can imagine about that. The junior graduates I was one of those that was really excited to start work, to implement those and knowledge that I got from university. And I was so excited with my friends and we were accepted in the women clinic and it was kind of back for us, but we couldn’t understand what would be our how would be the word, because it was one of the first clinic, inpatient clinic in Iraq.

00:16:54:11 – 00:17:31:14
Asmaa Ibrahim
And we can say the middle is that it’s kind of specialized for the Yazidi women and children in 2015. It means one year after the war that happened along that year was the intense work to just implement it, to just open that clinic before starting the work. And it’s right that we had intense trainings. It’s also a knowledge, but on the ground it is something different, you know, and we had on cold nights and we were staying at nights on our schedules there to not left them alone.

00:17:31:23 – 00:18:04:01
Asmaa Ibrahim
And there were really difficult, traumatized cases. You know, one of them is really kind of touched me and I can not forget it. There was they were groups of clients that were visiting the clinic because the clinic is in the city that near by many. Chantal but the client where we’re in camps around and we transferred them by bus and they were groups of patients and, and clients.

00:18:04:01 – 00:18:36:12
Asmaa Ibrahim
We are almost using the client word to the clinic and then translating back to Duhok and they were staying there for one month and then coming back to Duhok and continuing psychotherapy sessions here because we have a center here, main center and also the mobile tents for the comes as well. Depending on the clients necessary how it was being, they would be continuing it come over in the main center, the first group that we had in clinic, we were juniors and the first one listening to the difficult stories.

00:18:36:12 – 00:18:57:18
Asmaa Ibrahim
They were really difficult stories. How they were separated from each other, how they were the the men killed in front of them and separated from the child. And that is that I want to talk about was the pregnant woman at that time and she had the children with the child with her. And she was talking about her life.

00:18:57:18 – 00:19:26:21
Asmaa Ibrahim
That is full of tears that she said, I was got married for only six months and I was two months pregnant and I were separated from my husband like like that by force. They were hand in hand holding hands. They were forcing them to separate them. And just imagine that that situation, how it could be with a two, two month pregnancy.

00:19:27:06 – 00:19:55:13
Asmaa Ibrahim
And he got he got first and I was with ICE’s with, you know, in a horrible situation and they could find a way to escape. But it was all traumatic events. And we can say at once, not not in a month or no, they could see of many traumatic events in just one hour or less. It was one of them that they were captured.

00:19:55:13 – 00:20:23:03
Asmaa Ibrahim
There was other patients that were they were not captured, but they also traumatized, based only by, we can say, seeing them or hearing the good news that ISIS is coming and also escaping to the Sinjar Mountain and staying there in a we can say under heat, cold in to hunger, thirst in as with children. Yeah, there were people that really just left their children.

00:20:23:03 – 00:20:32:00
Asmaa Ibrahim
They cannot they cannot just hug them. Just hanging them. There were really horrible stories there. Not only stories, they were real life.

00:20:32:04 – 00:20:35:20
Philippa White
That woman who was pregnant, did she get reunited with her husband?

00:20:35:21 – 00:20:58:12
Asmaa Ibrahim
No, no. After her, sometimes she heard that you were filmed. It was just it is really, really difficult to not having a body to bury, just lost with her with a adults that they may be alive because you cannot you cannot believe just if you can imagine, you cannot believe without a body. Just they were dying it was just really.

00:20:58:12 – 00:21:13:02
Philippa White
Difficult with regards to women clinic can you help us understand a little bit about trauma? How do people react to trauma? What does treatment look like? What do symptoms look like?

00:21:13:08 – 00:21:37:18
Asmaa Ibrahim
If we talk about the traumatic trauma, as we can say, it is a one that would be created in you after suffering within traumatic event and is with will create a wound and something hurts you and the symptoms could be one of the first ones would be the or experiencing that event. You can say it will not leave you.

00:21:38:04 – 00:22:03:14
Asmaa Ibrahim
It would be with you in your dreams, in your daily life. It’s only searching for for a whole to just get you and we can say a trigger. That could be something that you can see or it could be a memory that you had during the event will trigger you and remember to remind you the event and give you the same emotions that you had that time.

00:22:03:18 – 00:22:43:19
Asmaa Ibrahim
And the other one could be avoidance. And you you may avoid all of the people or things that will remind you of the event just to to get rid of that experience. We can say and there would be many more change with the main one. We can say that your beliefs, it will change your belief system, the core beliefs that you had, for example, someone was really religious after the of the after that war we can say that it is for there will be the will touching that for example hating God for why me I will why it why it was happened to me and and you.

00:22:43:20 – 00:23:02:08
Asmaa Ibrahim
It is not fair. And there is. Those beliefs will be touched and switched and there would be other other symptoms that was impacting your daily routine. Sleeping, eating, your going out, we can say of reactive, which is.

00:23:02:09 – 00:23:11:13
Philippa White
What are some of the what do you do with these women? What are some examples of things that you do to try and treat someone who’s been through something that’s so traumatic?

00:23:11:15 – 00:23:40:03
Asmaa Ibrahim
We need, we can say as a healing program altogether, especially for those women that were staying there for a while there, their plans staying there for three years, for four years, this really long time to be in a fight flight. We can say situation every time you are in that your body and your mind in that situation. And we need a really kind of holistic program and we are trying to implement that in women.

00:23:40:07 – 00:24:03:06
Asmaa Ibrahim
They think that maybe it is difficult to implement it in an outpatient clinic that we are only our tools could be an individual session or a group session and then then the client will go back to home. But in the holistic approach, we can say every aspect will be under our control because they she will be with us and we will be with them 24/7.

00:24:03:12 – 00:24:57:01
Asmaa Ibrahim
We can say the first thing that would be the the implementing the rules that would be in that building or sleeping time and eating time and these scheduling me the whole day. All schedules, no, no. Staying in bed for long and the morning exercises that would be totally new for them. New life and also individual session and also group sessions at the beginning, especially for educating them, giving a psychoeducation about those symptoms that you have totally normal for experiencing those kind of events and giving them at the beginning to that are kind of control kind of control that they are they lost that control that I what happened to me and I am like that

00:24:57:01 – 00:25:27:08
Asmaa Ibrahim
this answer not question why I’m like that when we are acting that could be the best basis for doing anything we individual sessions and trying to confront them with say event we are having trainings for our stops and this is one of them is dermatology training that is kind of providing a technique that called trust model teaching verbal starts, how to do that with the clients.

00:25:27:08 – 00:26:10:15
Asmaa Ibrahim
And they can they can do that. I mean, mainly in the woman clinic, it’s kind of stabilizing program that is till now it is implementing there that trying to stabilize the client before confrontation and you know one month they will not be enough with our mindset that develop the program we have other mindsets now but we are trying to develop and a program to assess the stabilization and there is new approach that could really help in in the short term if time that one of them is that I learned from in my master and study that this imaginary scripting it doesn’t need to re experience or reconfirmed to the same events.

00:26:10:16 – 00:26:40:18
Asmaa Ibrahim
No, you can change it to whatever you want. It is really a nice technique that I am in love with it. It could heal you or one of your events in just two session. It is your imagining the the event until you are going to the the hotspot. We can say that yeah. That the most horrible moment and at that moment you will change it to an event that you need it to happen that time.

00:26:41:08 – 00:27:06:06
Asmaa Ibrahim
And it is the most interesting part because you couldn’t do what you needed of that time because you were a child, for example, you were a child, a helpless child, or you were under a gun. You couldn’t do it if you did, you were killed and you will do it in your imagination. You will do everything to that person or to anything you needed.

00:27:06:06 – 00:27:07:14
Asmaa Ibrahim
Now I am in love with that.

00:27:07:24 – 00:27:11:10
Philippa White
And and even write it. Or do they just think.

00:27:11:10 – 00:27:28:11
Asmaa Ibrahim
Is only imagining and they need to do it as a homework every day to do the same thing that they think they need it and they they can change it during the continuing imagination if they think they needed something else, they can add it. It’s imagination.

00:27:30:13 – 00:27:50:15
Asmaa Ibrahim
It’s really powerful because if I because it used the power of imagination. And you we are an expert. I mean, it is really important thing in us. If I am talking about a lime, lime on your mouth is sputtering. If I’m talking about it in detail. Yes.

00:27:50:20 – 00:27:52:05
Philippa White
Or even just saying it. Yes.

00:27:54:00 – 00:28:23:07
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yes. Because your mind is imagining eating it. There is other ways. For example, narrative exposure therapy, it is evidence based, is the first line for traumatic events and traumatic work and it is narrating it. The most part that I love about narrative exposure is the lifeline I can suggest and recommend to do it for every patient. Even if you didn’t use the narrative exposure therapy for them, you aren’t in line.

00:28:23:07 – 00:28:58:00
Asmaa Ibrahim
I mean, putting up a rope, for example, a metaphor for your life time and putting in stone for traumatic events and a flower for the positive event. Not and not forgetting the positive ones and the flowers and the candle for lose. If you lost, lost someone or lost something. And the stake stakes for those events that you were feeling guilty and you were the the the reason of hurting someone or something and the patient and most of the time says, Oh, I have positive events in my life.

00:28:58:00 – 00:29:03:03
Asmaa Ibrahim
I just know that I don’t remember that kind of thing.

00:29:03:03 – 00:29:05:12
Philippa White
It’s, to be honest, paralyzed. It, isn’t it? Yeah.

00:29:05:16 – 00:29:28:16
Asmaa Ibrahim
Or preparing the client to defacing a stone. We start with the flower, choosing a flower and talk about it in detail and feel it. And there is a cycle that the therapist is following. It is for each point of the event and then for the next session you will be contending with the traumatic events, narrating it and writing it.

00:29:28:20 – 00:29:38:01
Asmaa Ibrahim
Therapist or assistant will write a every detail and the patient should review it like a homework at home.

00:29:38:01 – 00:29:57:03
Philippa White
Yeah, really interesting. Obviously the women’s clinic is a big part of the work at Cheyenne and it’s obviously incredibly, incredibly important. I also learned about the other work that you do, which I just I find just really important as well. If I’m not mistaken, I think I don’t know if it’s something you are doing or if it’s something you are planning to do.

00:29:57:03 – 00:30:21:15
Philippa White
It’s the work with the militarized youth. And when we were speaking on the phone the other day, you mentioned that a journalist that found a book in Mosul and I feel for our listeners for you to explain this work that you’re doing with militarized youth. I feel explaining this book brings it to life in a way that is quite shocking, and I think it’s important to just help people understand what happened in 2014 and what happened with these kids.

00:30:21:15 – 00:30:54:16
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yeah, you’re right. I mentioned that would be one of the for the project that we will work on those militaries to use that as a cup captured with their families and in 2014 and separating them and especially those who are from five or older. You were having a really systematic schooling, for example, the five year old and six year old that they should be in, in first grade or in preschool or in kindergarten.

00:30:54:24 – 00:31:30:05
Asmaa Ibrahim
They had their own educational system for them. Then one of those book that I watched and it was math, one of them was math that is kind of programed for normalize, seeing the crime and an aggressiveness toward the religion that they are not Muslim. Everyone that is against Muslim or they were not having any any religion. What they wrote in that book was not Apple plus apple that we we expected to see for a child.

00:31:30:05 – 00:31:48:02
Asmaa Ibrahim
It was a bullet plus a bullet that was equal to bullets. And it was all of the lectures designed that way. For example, when they the wrote to to to teach them a clock, it was on a bomb and all of that and.

00:31:49:00 – 00:31:54:18
Philippa White
A equals AK 47 would be bullet kill the.

00:31:55:11 – 00:32:32:22
Asmaa Ibrahim
Bill. Yeah, exactly. The one you mentioned it was the and the alphabet alphabetic that they were in to teach them in English, A for AK for B for blast, C for crime and D for that. And this all kind of designed to to brainwashing them and normalize the aggressiveness and kind of kind of planting that belief that if you killed non-Muslim people, you will you will go to heaven and you will be rewarded there.

00:32:32:22 – 00:32:49:06
Asmaa Ibrahim
And if you don’t do that, you will go to hell and you will be burned and find a if I’m doing that and I will be a good person and God too will be accept me and those planting those kind of beliefs and brainwashing you.

00:32:49:07 – 00:32:53:17
Philippa White
And you said that these young people, some of them even went as far as killing their parents.

00:32:53:17 – 00:33:19:18
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yes. Yeah. And it was six years old. The videos that are shown because those videos are all published by ISIS and they were having their platform to to publish, stopped and enforced and we can say convinced to kill them because you have the right to kill even if it is your you related. And because they were those they are they are nonbelievers.

00:33:19:18 – 00:33:21:13
Asmaa Ibrahim
You have the right to kill them.

00:33:21:17 – 00:33:43:13
Philippa White
Talk to us about the work that you’re planning to do with the militarized youth. You know, why is it so important touching on the stigma against providing care for former child soldiers because they were educated by ISIS? You know what? What does it mean to be radicalized? Is it possible? What are these young people who are now, I think, 15 to 25 now?

00:33:43:13 – 00:33:55:08
Philippa White
So it’s about getting them reintegrated into society. But society obviously is scared. They’re probably probably don’t know how to integrate. I mean, what does this look like and what will you be doing?

00:33:55:10 – 00:34:18:09
Asmaa Ibrahim
Actually, the things that you mentioned about the kind of society take guard of them, that’s to to just keep themselves away from them. It is one of those that are really big challenge because they were seeing them as a criminal, you know, because they expected that they did something there. They killed someone there, maybe some of them didn’t do that.

00:34:18:09 – 00:34:43:19
Asmaa Ibrahim
But because of the prediction, there’s understandings like that. And one of the thing that we want to do that not picking them up, not having the right information that he is in that house, having that kind of problem, what they were militarized. No, it was not our target. We are doing, we can say socializing activities to make them come to us.

00:34:43:19 – 00:35:10:11
Asmaa Ibrahim
And then the targeting those who are interesting and that word. For example, one of the activities is dedicated to a boss that is going around and staying for an hour. Two in each come. One of them is for entertaining the child and one of them is i.t i.t. Boss, we are naming it i.t. That is for a we can say other children and use we can say yeah.

00:35:10:19 – 00:35:55:06
Asmaa Ibrahim
To teach them how to use computer to how to make serious example, how to use Microsoft applications and those kind of i.t related words to make something that they can interest it and kind of having the space to open up. Yeah. And not going house by house or tents by a tent to search for them. No it is not our, our aim to to stigmatize them in the shame them about that because you know comes into and the small areas so the talk is kind of going to spread it out easily and if you go somewhere other, all the whole town will know that and become interesting.

00:35:55:06 – 00:36:03:22
Philippa White
So it’s a it’s a program that internally, you know what it is, but externally they will know that it’s this. If that’s the target, that’s it.

00:36:04:04 – 00:36:06:23
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yeah. Yeah, we hope so. It’s going to be like.

00:36:07:19 – 00:36:12:06
Philippa White
Yeah, yeah. That’s really interesting. And when do you plan to start that?

00:36:12:17 – 00:36:34:21
Asmaa Ibrahim
Start from July this year. Started. But it is kind of a you know, that the beginning is planning and kind of implementing. We have the stuff and still we have some more stuff to do that and we are kind of hiring them and we bow to the bus and the painting is still. So to do that, we will do that.

00:36:34:21 – 00:36:42:18
Asmaa Ibrahim
It kind of made it make it interesting and visible, not kind of regular bus, but there will be painting and something like that.

00:36:43:06 – 00:36:51:17
Philippa White
Now we’re coming to the end of the podcast, but I did want to just ask you two more questions. One, what gives you hope and then what keeps you up at night?

00:36:52:20 – 00:37:23:20
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yeah, actually, one of the things that giving me hope is doing these works. Yeah. And we are doing right now and kind of recently the NGO goes and the people are more aware of the subject and we hope that the stigma is becoming less and less. There is still, but it is kind of better than before. And doing this works really give me hope to make the world, as you say, a better place.

00:37:23:20 – 00:37:25:00
Philippa White
And what keeps you up at night?

00:37:25:02 – 00:37:58:05
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yeah, actually, one of the things that is concerning me is like a nationality of Kurdistan. We are lost, kind of lost in a world in the big world because this kind of we are name is minority. But you know I have the idea that it is the oppressed who makes the oppressor, not the other way around. And we need to work on ourselves like Kurds, to not feel we are a victim, you know?

00:37:58:09 – 00:38:06:03
Asmaa Ibrahim
And unless we have that one bad idea or not believe there always would be an oppressive, just a process.

00:38:06:11 – 00:38:11:22
Philippa White
That’s really, really, really telling and it’s very strong. True. And everything actually.

00:38:12:06 – 00:38:42:06
Asmaa Ibrahim
Is great recently kind of in a12 years that I am, I am really into self awareness. And I one of my lecture at the university is that self awareness of personal experience and self experience, the name is and how it is important to to be aware about ourselves and to know why I am thinking like that. You know, the first question would be, what is my thinking?

00:38:42:06 – 00:39:05:19
Asmaa Ibrahim
What is my beliefs, what’s the thing that I have? And the next step we can see the self reflection, why I am like that, why I have that belief and I believe most of the if it is not all, most of our beliefs is just created during our childhood and I and always say that the folders is created.

00:39:05:19 – 00:39:13:20
Asmaa Ibrahim
There are the things that we are experience. It’s only the files. Who went to that folder.

00:39:13:20 – 00:39:37:14
Philippa White
I almost think that there’s maybe a third question what is my worth? But I mean, it’s you need to know who you are. You need to know what your beliefs are. You need to know you need to know yourself. And you know what your worth is. What, what, what? Because then, to your point, it’s a lot more difficult for an oppressor if you know if you know that core your work is very important.

00:39:37:14 – 00:39:41:02
Philippa White
Now, is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners?

00:39:41:04 – 00:40:03:19
Asmaa Ibrahim
Please? I recommend to do self awareness and self reflection. It is something that we are coming for, coming to do it. And then, as you mention, finding the words and it would be what? What will I need to do to make the world a better place? It’s going to kind of simply do that thing.

00:40:04:12 – 00:40:25:14
Philippa White
Yeah, it’s so easy, but it’s true. But. But that’s just it. Taking that time, giving yourself that space. And, and I, you know, just, I think just reflecting on the the group work that you were talking about. And obviously in the context of real trauma, of course, it’s very easy, I think, for people to feel like I’m the only one who’s going through this.

00:40:25:22 – 00:40:47:06
Philippa White
But I think on a on a macro level of many other people, every so many people listening, even if you’re feeling, however you’re feeling, you’re probably not the only one. You know, also, just now, in this this moment in the world, there’s a lot going on. There’s just a lot for us all to get our heads around, you know, economy, politics, climate change.

00:40:47:07 – 00:41:02:13
Philippa White
You know, there’s just so much happening and it’s just a lot for us all to get so you’re probably not the only one who’s questioning things, who’s worried about things. Let’s talk about it. Find people to talk about. Do these exercises reflect? Give yourself that space and that time.

00:41:02:19 – 00:41:14:11
Asmaa Ibrahim
Yeah, exactly. Being, you know, being alone with yourself and enjoy it when when you. Yeah. When you came to that point, it means you finally found something.

00:41:15:05 – 00:41:30:14
Philippa White
Yeah. So such an amazing conversation. This. Thank you so much for your time. I really, really enjoyed this. Thank you. Your work is very important and the work of Jiyan obviously is just really, really important. So it’s great to get this out there.

00:41:30:23 – 00:41:40:24
Asmaa Ibrahim
You’re and also thank you. I don’t think I would have that conversation like that. It was really interesting.

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