THE STORY OF HADI
SHEIKHAN CAMP, Iraq.
Hadi Naif Sado’s shop is a small room. His photocopier and laminator sit on the glass counter and a laptop is on the table next to him. He’s in business with his brother, Faisal, who repairs mobile phones. Phone parts and accessories hang on the walls. Hadi and Faisal are Yazidis from Shingal. Their shop is located in Sheikhan camp in northern Iraq. It sits across the road from a medical clinic and next door to a barber. A healthcare worker from the clinic comes into the shop. She needs a photocopy of her identity documents.
While his brother repairs mobiles, Hadi copies IDs, laminates, sends and receives documents and images over messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber, and can do deliveries. People living in the camp frequently need these services as they register with aid organizations or sort out paperwork and documentation of their lives in their home towns and villages that they fled seven years ago when the Islamic State group (ISIS) attacked.
“I thought having this business would help the people in the camp,” explained Hadi. Before he opened his photocopy business, camp residents had to go into town to get their paperwork done.
His cousin first opened the shop selling phone accessories in 2015. In 2018, his brother Faisal took it over and in 2021, Faisal and Hadi together expanded the business with the help of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Faisal took a course in mobile repairs and Hadi learned how to run a business.
“I mostly wanted to learn entrepreneurial skills,” he said of the training course he took in March. He wanted to learn about business management, how to deal with customers, and ideas of how to expand a business.
The shop isn’t just a business, it’s a service for the displaced families living in the camp. “When a customer comes in, sometimes we help them, if they don’t have money,” Hadi explained.
The camp is home to more than 750 families, most from the Shingal area. Hadi, his parents, and seven siblings arrived in 2015.
The family is from a village near Shingal. Hadi quit school at the age of 12 and went to work to help support his family, finding odd jobs on construction sites or in factories. When ISIS attacked in 2014, he and his family fled on foot. They walked for seven days to the border with Syria and then north to Zakho. They lived for a year in an unfinished building before an aid organization moved the family to a tent in Sheikhan camp.
“For seven years, I haven’t seen walls,” said Hadi.
Fire is a constant worry. In early June, flames ripped through another camp, Sharia in Duhok province, burning hundreds of tents, destroying belongings and savings, and leaving about a thousand people without a home.
“Because it’s a camp, you’re even scared to sleep. There’s no certainty of life in a camp,” said Hadi.
Five months ago, he became a father to a baby girl, but he’s worried about her growing up in the camp. “As soon as I leave my tent, I start worrying about my daughter,” he said. “It’s a very miserable life… very small, narrow.”
Hadi’s options are limited. He has no home to return to in Shingal, it was destroyed in the war and basic services have not been restored. “There’s no house, no water, no electricity. It’s only land,” he said. And he cannot afford to leave the camp and rent a home for his family. Before he opened his own business, jobs were scarce. He found occasional work as a day labourer.
With the shop, Hadi’s hopeful he’ll finally see some stability, working with his brother. “We make a perfect team,” he said.
“Thanks very much to UNIDO,” Faisal added.