The word peshmerga means: ‘they who stare death in the face’. That meaning – combined with the images I saw of the Kurdish fighting with ISIS, its depressing black banner so in contrast with the vibrant Kurdish flag – made me want to meet these fighters. I went to Iraqi Kurdistan twice. The first time I stayed with the Dutch marines that train the Kurdish troops. The second time around I asked filmmaker Roy Dames to accompany me. I was guided by Chnar Hessin, peshmerga and mother of 16-year old Vicky. She was my guardian angel during our trips through Kurdistan. I was her guest in Erbil and slept on her couch for two weeks. I felt a great solidarity with her and the other female peshmerga. They felt like sisters to me.
Because these women are first and foremost, like me, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters. Powerful, resilient, protective. Full of the joy of life, while bravely staring death in the face.