A new start in Germany after fleeing the 'Islamic State’

Shafaq News/ As a Yazidi child, Farhad Alsilo fled the "Islamic State" in Iraq. After finding a new life in Germany, the now 19-year-old shares his story in a book.

Farhad Alsilo is no ordinary teenager. Eight years ago, he and his Yazidi family had to flee the jihadist "Islamic State" (IS) in Iraq. Today, he lives in Stuttgart and is completing his secondary education. The 19-year-old has written a book about his escape and his new life in Germany.

In "The Day My Childhood Ended," Alsilo recounts how his life suddenly changed on August 3, 2014. On that day, IS militias captured the Yazidi village where Farhad Alsilo was living with his family. He saw them kill his father and kidnap his sisters. Farhad Alsilo was 11 years old at the time. The terrorists were about to shoot him too, but then let him go at the last moment; they realized he wasn't old enough to grow a beard.

Tears of joy in Germany

Alsilo escaped through the desert with his mother and remaining siblings. They landed in Stuttgart as part of a special-quota program for Yazidi refugees in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Alsilo describes his last day in Iraq in the book: "After two hours that went by like two minutes for me, we arrived at the airport. I saw an airplane for the first time in my life, and it was for all of us an incredibly nice feeling to sit in the plane bringing us to Germany." He recalls weeping tears of joy upon arriving in the country.

These sentences reflect a deep feeling of liberation, contrasting with Alsilo's experience of extreme violence depicted in the previous 70 pages of the book.

But in his book, Alsilo does not only report on traumatic experiences, but also depicts how he worked to integrate into German society by going to school and learning the language.

With his book and various appearances on YouTube and Tiktok, he wants to give hope to young people: "I came to Germany as an 11-year-old who escaped imminent death," he told DW. "Now I'm studying, I'm a YouTuber and TikToker, I've learned German and English. Everything is possible, as long as you don't give up."

His sisters captured by IS

During the video interview with DW, Alsilo is sitting outside on a bench surrounded by high-rise buildings, wearing a black jacket and white wireless earplugs. He looks like any other young man his age.

He started writing about the traumatizing events of his childhood for himself, without telling anyone for two years. "There were moments I felt stuck, I didn't have any strength in my fingers. I'd visualize my father being killed and would start crying or break into a sweat. It was like experiencing it all a second time," he said. 

Still, he kept writing, wanting one day his own children to understand where he came from and why he landed in Germany.

He also simply kept writing because he had decided to write this book. The last third of the book focuses on his family's recollections, including the experiences of his sisters, Zaytun, Khalida, Waheeda and Khawla, who were prisoners of IS for a while.

Spend as much time as possible with your loved ones'

With the same determination, hope and joy with which he wrote his book, Alsilo also looks to the future. He now wants to successfully complete his high school degree, and then go to university and travel.

His dream destination at the moment is Dubai. Every time he sees a photo of Dubai, says Alsilo, he longs to go there.

But he also wants to stand up for the Yazidis and human rights in general. Alsilo is involved in a Yazidi association, collecting donations for the ethnic-religious minority.

Alsilo also encourages people to feel more gratitude for the beautiful life they are granted, instead of always getting upset about little things.

And if there's one thing he wants to transmit with his book, it's that he wishes everyone would "spend as much time as possible with their loved ones — before it's too late."


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