Molly Nixon, Lifting Hands International
Molly Nixon is a 2015 graduate of the Hridaya Teacher Training Course. She and her partner Kyle are dedicated to serving the Heart by supporting refugees in crisis. She has shared a post on our blog exploring the dance between global awareness and inner peace.
We invite you to read more about her work below and invite you to consider donating to her fundraising efforts.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have spent the past 18 months volunteering with refugees in , and Turkey. I am currently coordinating the Lifting Hands International project in Northern Greece and Northern Jordan.
I have developed a program to offer English and German lessons, trauma-sensitive yoga, music classes (guitar, harmonica, ukulele, keyboard, singing, etc.), theater, art projects, kids’ activities, dietary supplementation, hygiene distribution, etc. Our mission is to provide for basic needs while also supporting the well-being and holistic care of the Yazidi residents.
We also have a project based in Northern Jordan that seeks to offer sustainable aid to the Syrian families living out in the fields. We are campaigning to raise funds in order to purchase two milk-producing goats for every refugee family in the area.
What inspires you to serve in this way?
Something shifted when the pain inflicted by ISIS touched me on a personal level. I knew I could longer watch the suffering of the refugees from afar. I immediately wanted to head to the Middle East to share the healing benefits of yoga with women, but I also wanted to spend more time preparing to be a yoga teacher. After arriving at Hridaya, I realized I needed to give myself time to heal and recover from losing a very close friend to ISIS captivity, slavery, and eventually death. I spent nine months at the Hridaya Yoga Center and left inspired to serve others in a safe country.
I arrived in Greece ten days after I completed the HTTC. My partner and I spent months helping rafts arrive from Turkey, providing emergency provisions at the border during the closure process, feeding homeless refugees, and offering yoga when possible.
How has your work evolved?
Our project has been operating since August 4, 2016. The current situation is constantly shifting, so we have gone through various phases. We were operating in the camp, but recently decided to establish a welcoming community center outside the camp premises. We are in a time of transition, but we continue to offer our services and programs.
We have a range of offerings, including:
- Women’s English lessons
- German lessons for women, men, and teenagers
- Theater workshops
- Trauma-sensitive yoga
- Fitness classes
- Weekly family days in the park
- Music programs (guitar, harmonica, ukulele, saz, keyboard, songwriting, etc.)
- Women’s hours
- Spanish lessons
- Children’s activities
What is special about your project?
Many organizations focus on either emergency relief and essential aid or educational/holistic activities. We have chosen to fuse the two in order to ensure that camp residents’ basic needs are met and their holistic well-being is addressed.
While we are based in Serres, we are also working on other crisis relief projects. For example, during the harsh winter months a snowstorm hit the Greek islands. Our team collected a caravan of trucks and vans to bring aid to Lesvos from the mainland. We were able to distribute $15,000 USD worth of supplies (tennis shoes, socks, underwear, thermal leggings, etc.).
Is there anything else you would like people to know about your project?
I recently went on a service trip to Kurdistan. I went to the homeland of the Yazidis, where there are many refugees living in both formal and informal camps. I was shocked at what I saw: one of few medical clinics was completely out of medication, there was a lack of milk and baby formula, there was no medical insurance or care, and limited psychological support was available. We met Yazidi women and children who were only recently released from ISIS captivity, elderly people suffering in tents, and many people in need of urgent medical care.
I am returning to Shingal, Iraq in September in order to fill gaps. We are fundraising to purchase milk-producing goats and egg-laying chickens in order to provide refugees with sustainable sources for milk, protein, and essential nutrients. There are 9,600 families living in Shingal, so we need support fundraising and spreading awareness for this sustainable support campaign.
A reflection on my recent experience in Kurdistan:
Meeting Child Survivors of ISIS Captivity
We walked into a dark, rundown home made of concrete in order to meet Hajem, Shelal, and their father. The house was nearly empty, with just a few cushions scattered on the floor. My heart was pounding as we were greeted by the boys, knowing they had only recently escaped three long years of captivity by ISIS.
We greeted Hajem, the seven-year-old with the common Kurmanji greeting “ab khair hiaty,” meaning “welcome.” He looked up at his dad with utter confusion.
I quickly realized Hajem, after so many years in the hands of ISIS, no longer speaks his mother language. He was captured at only four years old, so young that he transitioned to speaking only Arabic.
I kept asking myself how to offer comfort to Hajem, Shelal, and their father. I can’t imagine the sorrow they feel after what they have been through, and the pain they endure knowing their mother and sister remain in captivity. I hope that my presence was able to offer them just a piece of comfort, a small slice of hope.
If you are interested in supporting these child survivors and other Yazidi families like them, please consider donating to Molly’s fundraiser.
For more information:
Molly’s personal blog: www.mk4refugees.com
Molly and Kyle’s fundraising site: www.crowdrise.com/nixons4refugees
Information on the goat campaign: gatherforgoats.com
Lifting Hands International website: www.liftinghandsinternational.org