Refugee Week
Two older white woman with young brown-haired woman in purple top in between smiling at each other

Barbara’s Story

Barbara, a local humanitarian aid volunteer, has become a beacon of hope and support for many Yazidi refugees who have found solace and strength in her embrace. She is considered a mother for many, a mentor for others and a chosen family member for the Yazidi families across Toowoomba.

Barbara’s journey began in 2015 when she embarked on a mission to Iraq, driven by a desire to bring comfort and aid to those affected by conflict and persecution. Over the years, she returned, each time drawn deeper into the lives of the Yazidi people, who had endured unimaginable suffering in the aftermath of genocide.

“I fell in love with the people,” Barbara says.

Their strength, their resilience—it was humbling to witness.

In 2018, Barbara’s commitment to the Yazidi community led her to Operation Hope, a local initiative in Toowoomba aimed at providing humanitarian aid to refugees. Alongside volunteers like Beth and her brother, Barbara worked tirelessly to offer support to those in need, including twelve Yazidi girls rescued from the horrors of sex slavery.

“We played games, taught English, danced and did visits to the parks,” Barbara recalls, a smile lighting up her face. “For these girls, who had experienced so much pain, it was a moment of joy and freedom.”

As the Yazidi community found refuge in Toowoomba, Barbara’s role as their chosen family only deepened. Volunteering at TAFE, making home visits, attending gatherings and parties—every moment was an opportunity to show her unwavering support.

“They’ve taught me so much,” Barbara says, her admiration evident. “Their hard work ethic, their spirituality, their respect for elders—it’s truly inspiring.”

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