Anfal Mahmoud Ali, shares how her experience living amid conflict shapes her work as a mental health and psychosocial support officer for Humanity & Inclusion in Iraq.
I remember May 5, 2017, like it was yesterday.
My family had been hiding in our bathroom for days without food or water, clutching our IDs. Our neighborhood in Mosul had been liberated from ISIS, but fighting on our street persisted. Then the airstrike happened. Our family home crumbled around us. By a miracle, we survived and managed to escape first to a neighbor’s house, then to a displacement camp.
Later that year, we returned to Mosul. We had nothing. A friend of mine told me that Humanity & Inclusion was hiring, so I applied. Since working here, I've been able to support my family, repair my house, and rebuild our lives.
I've seen first-hand the effect that conflict has on civilians. They lose their loved ones, their jobs, and their homes. And they usually face poor conditions, even after the fighting is over. Violence and devastation can cause people to experience depression, sadness and sometimes suicidal thoughts. Some people suppress their feelings. Others develop physical or chronic illness as their mental health needs go untreated.
My colleagues and I conduct awareness sessions with people experiencing psychological trauma, encouraging them to seek help and teaching coping mechanisms. When I meet all of these wonderful people, I am motivated to wake up in the morning and do my work with love. My neighbors understand that we need to stand by each other to survive. I thank those who are helping survivors of conflict, like me, access essential resources—shelter, rehabilitation, mental health support, and more.