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    HomeNewsIraq: Women of families of missing never stop searching, never stop living

    Iraq: Women of families of missing never stop searching, never stop living

    While the families of the missing share common challenges, their individual stories are unique. Hamda, a 68-year-old woman, speaks of her missing husband, Ismael. Her strength and determination shine through as she says, “I’m tough; I’ve fastened my belt and gathered up my strength,” referring to the traditional image of tying a belt around the waist for support during crises.

    HAMDA, the oldest woman in the Accompaniers program          LAYLA MIRZAH/ICRC 

    Hamda also finds humour in life’s twists. Her marriage was arranged traditionally, and on the day of the wedding, her in-laws brought over one of their old wedding dresses, applied makeup and styled her hair, “may God forgive them as they didn’t even take me to a beauty salon!” she states trying to sound upset but clearly holding back her laugh. She recalls her wedding day, when her husband’s vintage car broke down on the way to pick her up and that there was nothing for dinner. She recalls with a chuckle how she had to ask for an uncooked eggplant from her husband’s field out of sheer hunger. Hamda goes on, sharing a photograph of her husband and says with a mix of eagerness and jest, “don’t you dare suggest he’s handsome, or I might find myself missing him all over again.”

    Hamda holding her missing husband’s picture          LAYLA MIRZAH/ICRC

    She describes her pre-conflict life as being completely content. Ismael worked as a gardener and brought back a daily wage of 7,000 IQD. Together they raised Ali, Ismael’s nephew, who is now 25. She misses their shared moments – sitting together, watching Ismael ride his bike to work and return with groceries. Now, as she wakes up early every day, tends to the farmland, starts the water pump, and provides for the family, she says, “I keep fighting for the sake of my boy and our lives.” Unsure of the well-being and whereabouts of Ismael and the other men, Hamda prays for them alive or at peace. She has never skipped a session of the Accompaniment Programme and is determined to share her insights about life, resilience, and support with others in similar circumstances. 

    حمدة ونسيبتها إلهام

    Hamda and her sister-in-law Ilham          Layla Mirzah/ICRC

    Asia, Hamda and all the other women with missing loved ones have undoubtedly faced the unimaginable. Despite their individual differences, one thing is certain: their undeniable resilience and the hope of the return of their missing loved one.

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