In the Middle East, witnessing death is a daily occurrence. However, the tables slightly turn when the person killed is a family member and it was an innocent child that unknowingly brought the killers to the town and his own family.
"When ISIL first arrived, they asked us to take them to the police officers in town so they could pay them their salaries. I believe they were telling the truth so I took them to my father. When we arrived they beheaded him. Next, they went to our village and started arresting, lashing and beheading more people.”
Now, Ahmed lives thinking he was the one who brought ISIS to his father. He and 25 other boys live at the youth center, while 45 others attend activities during the day.
Psychologist and Youth Center Coordinator
"The young men here at the center suffer from many psychological problems. For instance, many of them suffer from PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some of them struggle with incontinence. And many of them experience extreme anxiety and sleep disorders.”
Since the UNICEF-supported center, Terre des Hommes, opened in summer 2016, more than 300 boys have received help.
While Ahmed has had much taken away from him, he still has a dream, which ISIS cannot rob him from.
"When I graduate I will become a policeman. My father was a policeman and I’d like to be one too.”
As of now, he is studying and learning English and hoping to attain his goal.
Currently, there are more than 3 million people displaced across Iraq, especially since a military operation began in Mosul this past October.