731 W. Hargett St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601

Krav Maga Kurdistan - Day 3!

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Yesterday, the first day of teaching at this camp, had gone very well. We had enthusiastic groups of girls and boys, and other people asking for the training. We assumed we would pick up where we left off, and build up from there. We had no idea what we were getting into.



When we pulled up to the front office, which shares a concrete courtyard with the building we train in, we were quite literally mobbed by children, only about a third of whom were constantly asking for t-shirts. After a bout of total chaos, the adults in the camp literally moved all the boys outside of the courtyard and closed the gate. That allowed us to let probably 50 girls into the training room. Half of them had taken class yesterday, the other half were brand new.



Even with that many kids, and the language barrier, they were wonderfully attentive. It got crazy when they picked up the pads, but that was mainly because we only had one pad for every five girls. Mini-groups formed around a pad, with one girl holding for the others before they switched off. They were giggling and having fun, but they stuck to the techniques we had taught them and trained correctly. The instructors also got in there and held pads for them, and once one of us picked up a pad, the group around us would get bigger and bigger, until some of them broke off to find whichever new instructor seemed the most exiting.

We rotated through different groups of girls and boys for the morning. There's really no reason the girls and boys can't train together, except that we are prioritizing getting the training to the girls, so they get to go first and last. The boys fit in around them.



The kids seem happy with all of us - Joshua's attractiveness is constantly remarked upon - but Cassie is a rock star here. She can't take a step without one of the kids getting a picture, comparing arm muscles, or asking for her phone number. As we were driving away from the camp Adam told us the girls had said, "After seeing Cassie, we feel like we've been healed from a sickness."



It's a really big deal for these girls - and women and men and boys - to see a strong, independent, educated woman who can kick ass. That's something many girls in America still don't see enough, and the problem is literally a thousand times worse here. Most of these girls are told that it's shameful for them to be strong and aggressive, and their male relatives might prevent them from being active because of social pressure. We like to say that one Krav Maga class can change your life, and it's true, but rarely will it be as powerful as the effect on these girls. The "sales pitch" of this trip is that no one has ever helped or protected the Yazidi, and they have to do it themselves. It's not as fun as, "Here is a massive and functional government investment to restore the society that was taken from you," but it's the realistic one. There are tons of fierce female and male Yazidi fighters holding out right now, so it's definitely in them. And we aren't training these kids to be soldiers, but we want everyone in the camp to feel like they CAN be strong, and CAN protect themselves. They might live in refugee camps, but they don't have to live in fear.

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