She said in Kurdish: “My name is Shna Kurdi!”
I met a woman in one of the markets in Hawler. She looked calm and happy. She spoke Kurdish at first, but from her appearance and the way she spoke one could know she’s not Kurdish. She said: “My name is Shna Kurdi”. It attracted my attention; I thought this would be a nice journalistic story.
Some people fled the ISIS war; they left their own country and even changed their names. They are now roaming around the happy countries of Europe. But this woman, alone but brave, chose Kurdistan. As an answer to my first question she replied " no, I’m not afraid, because Peshmerge are strong, I believe that when I see the mountains, I understand why Peshmerge are fighting and defeating the ISIS."
Two weeks after the first meeting, we met again, this time to know why she is called (Shna Kurdi). She said smilingly: “I met some Kurds by chance in 2000 in the UK. I socialized with them and my relations with this group continued. As matter of our trust, closeness and understanding, they said they had found me a Kurdish name and wanted to present it as a gift, which was of course (Shna Kurdi). After a short moment's thinking, I accepted, this is the story of my name. After I understood the meaning of the name, I loved it instantly. It will be with me forever.”
She went on saying: "in 2001, we celebrated Ramadan. It was the first time for me. I gave a speech there and put on Kurdish clothes and uttered (Supas and Shna Kurdi). About 700 Kurds attended the party."
Regarding her visit to Kurd- istan she said: “It was my first visit to the Middle East in 2004. I came to Kurdistan with the help of the families I had known. I went to Badawa neighborhood. I liked it. I stayed there for four weeks. During my visit, I felt I would come back again. It was a true feeling coming out from within. And I came back several times. Now I work here."
Regarding her study, she said she had MA in the Kurdish Language at Exeter University, and she’s been teaching English Language at Soran University since 2011.
Has she been afraid of ISIS, or doesn’t she have concerns that Kurdistan Region is under threat and there’s a serious war going on? Shna Kurdi says" Yes, there were people who left, but I came back here. Peshmerge are the only force that can fight and defeat the ISIS. I trust the Peshmerge. They are victorious. When I was back in Britain in Christmas, my family asked me not to return here, but I’ve made my decision because I have no fear and I believe that Peshmerge are protecting all of us. I’m happy, I have many Kurdish friends. I get on with people easily without any problems."
Regarding the attitude of the UK over the relations and supporting the Kurdistan Region, Shna started answering by criticizing the UK, she said: “I’m not a politician, but UK should’ve provided better support to Kurdistan. I was in the UK. The media were not taking interest in the war in Kurdistan and the heroic resistance of the Peshmerge here and in Kobane, which is not good. The UK should’ve provided heavy weapons, more humanitarian support to Kurdistan. The British army should’ve helped Peshmerge. I see that Peshmerge are killed every day, they’re sacrificing their lives, it needs to be supported, and unfortunately the UK does not do enough. The British journalists also should’ve worked better in this respect. They should have reported about the reality of war here."
She says, regarding her tours in Kurdistan, "I visited Lalish. It’s a beautiful and spectacular place, and it’s also a historical place. The people are so nice, it does not matter to which religion or sect someone belongs. The Yazidis are very kind people."
Shna Kurdi is joyful in Kurdistan; her accounts exude enthusiasm and confidence. Her eyes behind the spectacles give you new meanings. She says:" it’s hard to describe my happiness by words. I have good friends here. In Soran, I talk to people and friends daily. I’ve seen many places. The mountains are stunning." She went on saying “I come to know why Peshmerge are fighting so bravely. One time when I was coming back from Raniyah, I stared at the high mountains. They are full of meanings." Let me say something else that’s related to history, "Kurdistan has made a lot of progress compared to the past. Otherwise how a woman like me could live here independently and with no worries at all.
Finally she said she tries to speak Kurdish fluently like people in Hawler.