July marks two years since it was officially declared that Iraqi armed forces had successfully re-taken Mosul from the so-called Islamic State, following a nine-month long bloody battle.
But today, there are still thousands of people displaced and distressed as a result of the conflict in Mosul and nearby areas.
This is a country where decades of war upon war have left close to seven million people at the mercy of humanitarian aid.
Not even children have been spared from the violence in recent conflicts, such as the 2003 Iraq War and the subsequent takeover and fall of ISIL.
In an instant — two lives changed
Life can change in an instant, especially for refugees. Take the stories of Yen Siow and Hussam Alheraky, whose lives are worlds apart but share a common thread of courage through trauma.
In October 1980 Yen was three years old, her life changed in an instant when her family set sail on a leaky boat to escape communist Vietnam. The boat broke down and they were adrift for a week at sea, dehydrated and staring at death, when a Norwegian tanker came to their rescue.
Hussam was sitting his year end exams when his school was struck by a missile an decimated. He pulled his best friend, dead, from the rubble. His family decided that they could take no more and they fled Syria with the help of people smugglers. Their journey from Syria to Jordan was extremely dangerous and terrifying for the teenager. His family and the group they were travelling with were tracked down and almost killed, but eventually they made it to safety.
My time: Tim Costello
Reverend Tim Costello is a towering figure in Australian public life, best known for his role in leading World Vision and advocating on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people
After much reflection he’s decided that the time is right to step down from his role as World Vision’s Chief Advocate.
His epic journey with the organisation began in 2004 as CEO. The Baptist Minister and humanitarian is an inspirational and much-loved figure, not just in Australia but around the world.
Tim has also been recognised for his service to Australian society, having been awarded the Australian Peace Prize, an honorary doctorate for "his contributions to religious life and social justice" and was listed by the National Trust as a National Living Treasure.
In this episode we talk about home, and what home means when you lose it.
Ben Quilty, one of Australia’s most well-known artists, followed the Syrian refugee exodus, and shares the raw emotion of witnessing a young Syrian girl draw two bloodied bodies. Ben was travelling with Man Booker Prize winning author Richard Flanagan at the time through Lebanon, Greece, and Serbia. He was so moved by what he saw, he decided to return to Lebanon to produce a book of drawings from Syrian children on their memories of Home.
We also hear from Alice Pung, a Melbourne-based lawyer and award-winning writer whose parents fled Cambodia in 1980. She was called Alice after Alice in Wonderland. For her dad, Australia was like a wonderland, a distant land of hope and promise. But even Wonderland had its dark side. Alice was born just one month after her parents arrived in Australia in 1980, and experienced the best and the worst of the nation’s attitudes towards migrants. From her childhood in multicultural Braybrook Victoria to the racism Pauline Hanson brought into the public discourse during the 1990’s, Alice shares her journey.
The Forgotten Crisis
The Yak Season 2 is just around the corner. However, we have fast tracked this special episode on the forgotten crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for Red Hand Day; the International Day against the use of Child Soldiers.
The use of child soldiers is classified as a war crime under international law. However, children are frequently abducted and forced into fighting, while others choose to join forces because they are poor, hungry and feel they have no other way to survive.
In this episode we hear from Sydney Morning Herald journalist David Wroe, World Vision's Brianna Piazza and some former child soldiers themselves.
A short Christmas message from World Vision.
The gift of love. The gift of peace. The gift of happiness. May all these be yours at Christmas.
The Yak will be back in February 2019. Listen to this update to find out more.
#KidsOffNauru - Part 2
Children in detention on Nauru have witnessed lip-stitching, self-immolation and other suicide attempts. In many cases in the past seven months, Australian judges have ordered that young children in urgent need of medical care be immediately brought to Australia.
Three refugees in Nauru have already taken their own lives.
In the first episode of The Yak, we met some of the people behind the #KidsOffNauru Campaign. We heard from children trapped on the tiny island nation of Nauru and some of those advocating on their behalf. If you haven't listened to it yet or are new to the issue, you might want to go back and listen to Part One.
When the #KidsOffNauru campaign started in August, there were over 100 children trapped on Nauru. As we record this, there are still ten. Of course, if you keep a child in detention long enough, they stop being a child. Hundreds of adults remain in offshore detention, and many have turned 18 in detention.
In this episode we meet Shaun Hanns, a former immigration official whose job it was to approve or reject refugee and asylum seeker claims.
We also speak to Natasha Blucher, an advocate from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, who works with those asylum seekers wanting to take legal action. Then we meet Nicki Lees, a lawyer in Maurice Blackburn social justice practice who has been working around the clock to bring these matters before the courts. Finally, we hear from Claire Rogers, World Vision Australia CEO.
Six Metres High
In this episode we'll hear some first hand accounts from on the ground in Sulawesi, Indonesia, where a massive emergency relief effort is underway. A devastating earthquake which triggered a powerful six-metre-high tsunami hit the region, killing more than 2,000 people.
Many were buried under rubble screaming for help as rescuers raced against time to save them. Unfortunately, that's where many of them died. Thousands more are missing, likely dead. Homes were swallowed up by the ground. Children ripped out of their mother's arms and swept away by the waters. Entire neighborhoods were buried under landslides.
Survivors are trying to piece their lives back together as they search through rubble one bit at a time. Here are some of their stories.
#KidsOffNauru - Part 1
In our first episode, we meet some of the people behind the #KidsOffNauru campaign and hear from a few of the children who are detained on this tiny island nation. We speak with Gabby Sutherland, a former teacher on Nauru, and Adam Valvasori from World Vision Australia's advocacy team.
The kids off the Nauru campaign is calling on the Australian parliament to get every child off Nauru by Universal Children's Day on November 20th.
Right now, more than 68 million people around the world are displaced. It's a complex global problem, but whatever the problem locking children up is never the answer.
Introducing The Yak
No one chooses to be displaced; leaving home is always a last resort.
World Vision is a worldwide community development organisation that provides short-term and long-term assistance to 100 million people worldwide.
The Yak will take you to some of the places we work and also introduce you to some of the people who inspire us.
For more than 50 years, World Vision has been engaging people to work towards eliminating poverty and its causes.
We work with people of all cultures, faiths and genders to achieve transformation.
We do this through relief and development, policy advocacy and change, collaboration, education about poverty, and emphasis on personal growth, social justice and spiritual values.