Monthly Archives

February 2019

#WeWillNeverForget #MarchForOurLives

Alyssa Alhadeff

Scott Beigel

Martin Duque Anguiano

Nicholas Dworet

Aaron Feis

Jaime Guttenberg

Christopher Hixon

Luke Hoyer

Cara Loughran

Gina Montalto

Joaquin Oliver

Alaina Petty

Meadow Pollack

Helena Ramsay

Alexander Schachter

Carmen Schentrup

Peter Wang

Last month 3 Generations’ Board Chair Nadia Zilkha traveled to Toronto with our team to meet and interview Yazidi survivors of the 2014 genocide by ISIS. This work was facilitated by Project Abraham, a Toronto-based not for profit organization established to help Yazidi refugees resettle in Canada. This is her account.

Each female victim of the Yazidi genocide interviewed by 3 Generations in Toronto last month told her unique horrific story with the same fierce intensity and precision. The details varied, but they all spoke of their captors’ extraordinary brutality, their own vital will to carry on and their unifying luck. And each emphasized the goodness of the group, Project Abraham, now helping them resettle in Canada.

In 3 Generations’ most recent project, I’d felt more compelled than ever to join Jane Wells to meet and interview some of the Yazidi survivors living in Toronto: women who were kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery by ISIS after the genocide in their home of Sinjar. Because of my own family’s hasty escape from Iraq in 1927 (the Black Hand Society was hunting down my grandfather), I had felt a particular affinity with the Yazidis.

I quickly learned, however, that my family history had not equipped me to fathom the atrocities and hardships these women had endured at the hands of ISIS. It made me truly confront the terror that in our modern era, genocide continues unabated.

The women were all wearing black, against our dark backdrop. The only color in the room was the survivors’ red-painted fingernails. Their faces filled with pain as the horrors spilled out in their native Kumanji dialect. They spoke of their journey, traversing from Northern Iraq to Syria and back again. But Jane and I understood that their survival rested purely upon their own wits, bravery and outsmarting their captors.

Before and after they shared their stories, they were eager to make us welcome. They had prepared food — Middle Eastern dishes that would have made my grandmother pause in rapture, including sesame date pastries and burnt rice. These feasts were accompanied by tea, served in small glass cups. I felt transported back in time, to visits at my grandparents when I was little.

These Yazidi women have already lived in Canada for 18 months. Their children can now speak and read English with confidence and independence. As with so many children of immigrants, they are helping their parents navigate this new life.

But the Yazidis still maintain their traditions and cultural identity. They come together to celebrate weddings and new births. This frequent connection to community helps ground them in their newfound and strange surroundings. There is even discussion that inviting more of their closer relatives to join them in Canada will help them heal and reduce their sense of isolation.

What is many times forgotten is that it requires more than money to settle the Yazidis into their new life. So, thankfully, the Project Abraham volunteers have offered many other kinds of help to fill in those gaps. Many of them are the children of Holocaust survivors, who had immigrated to Canada themselves following genocide. Now their adult children have the opportunity to give back. Witnessing this kindness and commitment of strangers who have adopted the Yazidis was moving to say the least.

The volunteers see protecting the Yazidis as a near-full time venture. Theirs is an emotional, as well as physical, commitment. It was heartwarming to watch as the Yazidi women communicated to their adopted second families through broken English and sign language.

In the age of Trump, I was struck by the sharp contrast between the United States and Canada in addressing the humanitarian crisis. In the bitter cold of Toronto, the Yazidi tale was one of resilience and endurance.

Filmmaking is a slow process and 3 Generations has much to do before we can create a work that honors the resilience of these Yazidi survivors. I am grateful to have helped record and document these crimes against humanity. I believe 3 Generations’ mission of lending a voice to victims of human genocide and atrocities gives them dignity as well as the chance to be heard.

— Nadia Zilkha

New York City Feb 1st 2019

As many across the country and globe gear up for the Super Bowl by making chilli, buying beer,  planning parties and getting partisan, at 3 Generations we spend the week before thinking of new ways to talk about domestic sex trafficking. We have been doing this for the last 8 years. Sex trafficking happens every day in every city across the nation, but we know more children will be trafficked into the host city around the hoopla of Super Bowl than any other weekend throughout the year.

This year Donald Trump gifted (or was it nauseated?) us with prolonged drivel about “uman traffickers”. He took the whisper of truth and turned it into a perversion of the bona fide human rights problem facing hundreds of thousands of women and children in this country. When I first heard his screed I laughed, it was so preposterous. It was a description of guerrilla pimping on steroids: kidnapped women with duct-taped mouths,  unable to breathe being trafficking across the wall-less border. But, as is inevitable with Trump, I had to listen to his words again and again until finally I got mad. What Trump has done, yet again, is taken a complex issue and bastardized it for political gain: in the service of his wall. I would go so far as to say he doesn’t give a damn about human trafficking: sex or labor. His only interest is in fueling his racist anti-immigration narrative. I am coming to believe that even Ivanka Trump, who made trafficking one of her “signature issues,” is disingenuous. It feels as though Stephen Miller has proffered a couple of hot button issues to spin into a hyperbolic narrative to further a different agenda.

This is worse than ignoring an issue. It is cruel. It re-exploits the already exploited and vulnerable.  And it has a pernicious regressive effect on the committed and sincere experts who work tirelessly to educate the public about the scourge that is domestic human trafficking.

We made our documentary, Tricked, to show that the sex trafficking of children is a serious domestic problem in the USA. We did so because It’s important to come to grips with reality if we want to combat human trafficking. We need purchasers of commercial sex to understand that trafficking victims don’t have duct tape residue around their mouths: they look just like our children, our sisters, our brothers, us. The vast majority have never visited the southern border. They were born and raised here.

So we dedicate this short video to all the amazing people and not for profits who work hard to fight sex trafficking in this country. To name a few: My Life My Choice, Gems, The Polaris Project, S.O.A.P, ECPAT USA, Love 146, Shared Hope and Truckers Against Trafficking.

And may the best team win on Sunday.

 

-Jane Wells, Executive Director and Founder

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