The Cost of War
 The Yazidi wedding of Amera and Samir took place in a small clearing outside of the Bajad Kandala displacement camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.  An atmosphere of joy and hope descended as the crowd of several hundred from the Yazidi community danced and sang for hours honoring the newlywed couple.   At the end of the night, as the last bit of sun disappeared into the Kurdish landscape, the crowd dispersed and families slowly began to walk the several hundred yards back to the camp and to the tents they have called “home” for the past four years.   Each of the nearly 9,000 individuals who live in the camp are displaced Yazidis from Sinjar, Iraq.  In August 2014 ISIS attacked the city, killing thousands and taking just as many into captivity; those who were able to escape now live in one of twenty-three displacement camps spread across Iraqi Kurdistan. A persecuted ethno-religious minority, the Yazidis are unable to return to Sinjar due to a lack of security and near complete destruction of the city. Quickly approaching five years after the initial siege the future for the tens of thousands of Yazidis that remain displaced is, at best, uncertain.
 One of the many consequences of displacement—whether it be because of conflict, poverty, environmental, political or otherwise—is the disruption of education for children and young adults alike. While in Mosul last year I remember meeting young adults, similar in age to myself, who had no choice but to abandon their studies when ISIS took hold of the city.  For the Yazidis displaced from Sinjar in August 2014 the story is similar — despite efforts from (some) NGOs and individual volunteers, education halted as people were forced to flee and has yet to resume the regularity or attendance that existed in Sinjar. in the Bajad Kandala camp in Iraqi Kurdistan one school operates and the majority of educational efforts are being made by volunteers—other displaced Yazidis living with the camp.
 A survey conducted in two districts surrounding Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) found women in rural areas spend an average of eight to nine hours per day doing agricultural work, three to four hours performing domestic work and two hours fetching water and gathering firewood. Though expected to cover most household expenses, women do not have equal land rights, are often restricted to selling lower value produce and have little access to farming resources, training and markets. As one stated: “The woman is seen only as a producer or a worker for the family. The whole weight of the family hangs over her because she works more than the man…the woman is a tractor.”  In these outlying districts women work from sun up to sun down and make approximately $1.25 per day. Though pay is low and the labor strenuous, the women agreed they’re still grateful because the opportunity to work allows them to educate and feed their children.
 Mosul, Iraq // May 2017
 nyctophilia: (n.) an affinity for darkness or night; finding relaxation and comfort in the darkness  // I walk in the night to better understand the day. There is anonymity in the darkness.  And there is peace in the solitude, the quiet, the space to think, in the exhale the mind is permitted, all too rarely.