Captured by ISIS, her bravery and faith became her pathway to freedom.
Badeeah Hassan was just 18 when she witnessed firsthand the horrors of the 2014 genocide of the Yazidi people by ISIS forces. Captured by ISIS, known locally as Daesh, Badeeah was among hundreds forced into a brutal human trafficking network made up of women and girls of Yazidi ethnicity, a much-persecuted minority culture of Iraq. Badeeah’s story takes her to Syria where she is sold to a high-ranking ISIS commander known as Al Amriki, the American, kept as a house slave, raped, and routinely assaulted. Only the presence of her young nephew Eivan and her friend Navine, also prisoners, keeps her from harming herself. In captivity, she draws on memories and stories from her childhood to maintain a small bit of control in an otherwise volatile situation. Ultimately, it is her profound sense of faith and brave resistance that lead her to escape with Eivan and reunite with family.
Since her escape, Badeeah has brought her harrowing story of war and survival to the world’s stage, raising awareness about the strength of her people and the acts of genocide against them. This captivating account of courage extends beyond the confines of her experience; Badeeah’s story is about the resilience of women, girls, and persecuted groups everywhere in the face of seemingly insurmountable oppression.
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Badeeah Hassan Ahmed was 18 when her village was invaded, and she was abducted by ISIS. Throughout her ordeal, Badeeah managed to keep her and her nephew as well as another abducted woman’s spirits alive by telling folk stories and reminding each other of their strong Yazidi spirituality. She managed to escape, and today studies language and nursing in Germany. Her goal for the future is to share with humanity the gentle, peaceful faith of her Ezidi culture, and give back to her people.
Susan Elizabeth McClelland is an award-winning journalist and recipient of the 2005 Amnesty International Media Award. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Published: February 2021
“Deeply personal and immediately real … The narrative is authentic … poetic and beautiful.” — School Library Journal, starred review
“Badeeah’s story is one ultimately of hope.” — School Library Connection
“It is not easy to read, but it is the current reality and it is well told.” — Youth Services Book Review
“A powerful read … and a story that needed to be told.” — Book Time
“Stands out for its coverage of the assault upon a small cultural group, the Ezidis.” — CM Reviews