“Sorry mom it’s not our day”: the true refugee story of a young doctor and his family forced to flee their home

Mohammed B. Othman

The writer of this exclusive story is Mr Mohammed B. Othman, a bright young doctor from Mosul, Iraq.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Mohammed B. Othman, a junior doctor in Mosul city. Mr Othman is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

He fell on the ground; he is not able to walk this long anymore. It is too much for his 3.5 year-old skinny body. I hold him cleaning his knees. It is so hot he told me, Of course it will be, we were in August the 21st of 2014 at the borders of Kirkuk Province in northwest Iraq. Yousif, my little brother, was the spoiled kid in the family. He came to this life when my youngest sister was 16 years old and I’ve just entered my 22 years. He was a gift from heaven.

We are still walking in the 4 kilometers transitional zone between the ISIS forces and the Kurdish Peshmarga, who thankfully saved Kirkuk city from a destiny similar to our home town Mosul. It is 2 pm and we are dizzy and nauseous of all of the bad broken off-road ways the micro-bus driver had to take in order to avoid the ISIS checkpoints and their mined streets. Here in the middle of the open filed I cannot see more than few meters in front of me. People are with thousands.

All of them are dirty, sweaty, dusty and tired. But they still insist to be alive and walk this way. I am wondering what the purpose of keeping alive when you realize that the future is darker than your dusky present. My mom interrupts my thoughts calling me to help her with the bags. I am already carrying so much, but still I can’t refuse to help the 43 years-old English language teacher. She always loved to look chic.

“Sorry mom it’s not our day I think” I said, taking the bag from her.

We were four; my mom, my sister, little Yousif and me. My father had to stay in Mosul to take care of our properties in the house so they won’t get robbed. Our neighbors had their houses robbed when they left.

“ISIS are thieves”, was what my father used to say.

He is a smart engineer and he always surprised me with his deep political analysis. My thoughts got distributed when a Peshmarga soldier asked me to throw my bags on the ground and open them all for checking. My mom was busy showing the other soldier our IDs. We spent 15 minutes reloading the bags after he took everything out.

We were happy reaching the promised land. Although it was 49C◦ outside the old bus that took us from the check point along with all the other poor families who escaped with us, we felt cold.

“We made it”, my sister said.

I was hoping that we really did a good thing and the next step is better than what we saw. We reached the city of Kirkuk around 4:30 pm with very hungry and empty stomachs. After a simple lunch, the fear that made us anxiously busy all the way between Mosul and Kirkuk thinking came back.

“Where shall we spend the night?”

In Kirkuk the rent prices have been increased more than ten folds the usual price, because Kirkuk now is the only safe place for those who run out of the three governorates who got under ISIS control.

“It is time to make good money”, that is what they were thinking.

I left my family and went on the streets asking for a place. I did not care where or how; just find us a place to sleep the night. I did that till my mom’s phone call reminded me that it is 10 pm .They could not stay outside any longer. I comforted her saying that I was with a guy that was taking me to a small house that we hopefully could get.

The middle aged man described the place like it was a Sheraton hotel suite with a Jacuzzi. Although we were both walking for half an hour in an unpaved muddy small roads I tried to believe him.

“Here we are”, he said taking the keys out of his pocket opening a big iron door.

What I saw was not even house, “it’s a garage”, I said.

It was really a garage, a long one with a small door at the end. Behind the door there was a 12 square meter room with and old closet, few worn carpet on the ground and a ceiling fan with no windows in the room. Next to the closet there was a curtain leading to the bathroom. I remembered the fancy bathroom that I had next to my room in our house, I insisted to have it privately for my room only. Time changes many things; I thought when I noticed how the guy was looking at my gloomy face.

I took the room and we agreed that if my family did not find a place the next day we would return here and pay for the next day. It was difficult to make him agree since new people are coming every day and some would pay him even more than us.

“Doctors are rich”, he said when he saw my university ID (although he knew I’m still student).

I nodded thinking how my mom and sister would think of this place when they just left our two floors 350 square meters house that we build like a modern icon. When we arrived I brought a tape with me to cover the broken electricity plugs and exposed wires in the walls so Yousif would not hurt himself. The tea and the simple dinner the neighbors offered us was enough to make us full and sleep immediately.

It was difficult to lie directly on the ground. We slept deep after this long and exhausting day. I was praying God for a better tomorrow, I was praying for those who are in worse situation than us and had no place to go to.

“Ignorance is the most dangerous human illness”, I wrote in my mobile notes and locked it, hugging my little bother to sleep hoping for a better tomorrow.

About the author

I’m a junior doctor in Mosul city, spending my hospital duties in the wrecks of the bombed smoky walled hospitals, my family returned to our house in Mosul while I’m still living in Sulaymaniyah city where I work as a medical representative as well, I see my family only when I come for the hospital duties. I am an IFMSA-Kurdistan alumnus and member of the Middle East sustainable peace organization. I am an ambitious dreamer; I hope I can be a part of making more global understanding and tolerance to help the upcoming generations to suffer less than us.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Brexit Preparedness: European Commission adopts final set of “no-deal” contingency measures for Erasmus+ students, social security coordination rules and the EU budget

The journey begins – 2021 is the European Year of Rail!

Three experts on why eradicating plastic pollution will help achieve gender equality

Informal meeting of heads of state or government, Sibiu, 09/05/2019

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into public support for expansion of LG Chem’s electric vehicles battery plant in Poland

Rising number of young people excluded from jobs, education and training

Iran protests: Live ammunition reportedly used, says UN human rights office

In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities

Opening Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi, Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU at the Chinese Fashion Night

EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: €5.6 billion out of €6 billion now allocated in support of refugees

Forget 2009, this is the real credit crisis of our time

Is there a cure for corruption in Greece?

COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and their challenges

EU Visa Policy: Commission welcomes agreement to strengthen EU visa rules

How to unleash the potential of regions like São Paulo

A comprehensive strategy for Eurozone’s long term growth gains momentum

US-EU trade negotiations: pointless tariffs against real economic growth

A Sting Exclusive: “Paris is the moment for climate justice”, Swedish MEP Linnéa Engström claims from Brussels

The ECB proposes a swift solution for SMEs’ financing

Major UN aid operation for 650,000 gets underway across Syria-Jordan border

Latest leaked TTIP document confirms EU sovereignty may be under threat

Societies must unite against ‘global crisis of antisemitic hatred’, Guterres urges

How powering food storage could end hunger

What are antibody tests and can they get the world back to work?

Education should be like everything else. An on-demand service

A new European banking space is born this year

Smart city experts should be looking to emerging markets. Here’s why

JADE Spring Meeting 2016 highlights

European research priorities for 2021-2027 agreed with member states

Latest tragedy in the Mediterranean claims over 100 lives – UN refugee agency

Parliament demands ban on neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups in the EU

Memoirs from a unique trip to China: “my new old dragon” (Part II)

We need to rethink cybersecurity for a post-pandemic world. Here’s how

COVID-19 amplifies inequality. Fight back with long-term thinking

How COVID-19 vaccine efforts could help defeat other diseases

Former Chilean President Bachelet put forward by UN chief as next High Commissioner for Human Rights

Young people are key to defusing unrest and restoring public trust

A third of young people polled by UN, report being a victim of online bullying

The reskilling revolution can transform the future of work for women

European Defence Fund: EU funds new joint research and industrial projects

Coronavirus Global Response: EU Humanitarian Air Bridge supports Venezuela

Search Engine neutrality in Europe in danger: Are 160.000 Google filtering requests good enough?

Why we need different generations in the workplace

Mexico: UN chief saddened by pipeline blast in which dozens were killed

Use space technology to build a better world for all, urges UN chief

UNICEF urges ‘transformative shift’ in family-friendly work policies to reap ‘huge’ benefits

EU cracks under the weight of its policy on the Ukraine-Russia nub

We need a global convention to end workplace sexual harassment

Climate Change : An Already Health Emergency

10 reasons to be optimistic for the future, from young change-makers

COVID-19 practices are constantly changing – this app helps emergency doctors cope

After the European Parliament elections – what happens next?

Scourge of slavery still claims 40 million victims worldwide, ‘must serve as a wakeup call’

Chernobyl nuclear disaster-affected areas spring to life, 33 years on

Why the UK government must do more to boost green revolution

UN chief praises Africa for keeping ‘hearts and borders open’ in refugee crisis

OK computer: why the machine age still needs humans

In Bali, UN chief Guterres outlines importance of international financial cooperation for sustainable development

TTIP 9th Round marked by American disappointment: Will some optimism save this trade agreement?

As Dubai switches on its first 5G, what is all the fuss about?

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. What happened next?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s