Dr. Nemam was born in Kurdistan, but when she moved to Sweden for medical school, she made a home there. While in Sweden, she joined the Kurdish Medical Association (KLS), which supports Kurdish doctors, not realizing how much it would affect her life.
After organizing a Swedish campaign to provide needed supplies in Kurdistan, she returned to her home country to distribute the supplies throughout the region. She was planning on staying for only 10 days, but while she was there, the desperate situation on Mount Sinjar began to unfold: thousands of Yazidis were surrounded by members of the Islamic State without food or supplies in sweltering temperatures.
At first, Dr. Nemam stayed to see how the crisis would unfold. As things escalated, she coordinated with KLS to receive supplies for the Yazidis that were able to escape, many of whom were dehydrated and suffering from severe sunburns and heat exhaustion.
She says of the experience, “Without knowing, I was getting more and more involved. … When I saw what was happening here with my own eyes, I could not go back to Sweden. I had to stay.” In response to the immense need, she and others from KLS decided to stay and take care of the health clinic in one of the camps that was housing these internally displaced people.
In addition to the time she spends in the medical clinic, Dr. Nemam coordinated with several humanitarian organizations, including LDS Charities, to build and run a bakery that feeds 15,000 daily. She credits her adaptability and problem-solving skills to her surgical training. “I’m a surgeon and I have a surgical mind,” she said. “And when you’re in the middle of a surgery and there’s a problem, you need to find a solution. I was seeing the people suffering for clean water and thought, ‘What’s the easiest, quickest solution? Giving them thermoses.’ I was seeing that they didn’t have bread; there was a shortage of bread despite the fact that they were transporting it from all over the Kurdistan region. So the easiest [solution] was to create a bakery.”
When many of the women in the camp were struggling to replace the fraying traditional Yezidi dresses they wore each day, once again Dr. Nemam went in search of a solution. Because the clothing needed to be made in a certain way, it was impossible to buy it commercially. Through a partnership with LDS Charities and its humanitarian partner, AMAR, the dresses were sewn in Erbil, and Dr. Nemam got to see the looks of joy on the women’s faces as she gave them clean, new dresses.
Learn more about Dr. Nemam’s story.
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