He Fought ISIS to Save His Family—“I knew I was going to die, but they needed time to escape”

The dust cloud sped off toward the mountain.

They only had one car to escape in, and Zido stood watching it drive away, his pregnant wife and five children inside. Some of the other people in villages and towns weren’t sure what to do—some even thought running from ISIS was foolish.

“Their fight isn’t with us, it’s with Baghdad.”

“Why would they attack here? We are not their enemy!”

“They said if we don’t resist, they won’t harm us.”

Zido listened to these arguments from neighbors, but he knew better. He knew wishful thinking when he heard it.

He and his kinsmen crammed their family and belongings into vehicles, sent them away, up Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq—and prepared to fight.

“When my family fled to the mountain and I stayed behind, I knew I was going to die. But they needed time to escape. I was so afraid,” Zido later recalled.

The men from his village, a small town called Gerzerg on the south side of the mountain, are known as stubborn, fierce fighters.

When I mentioned Zido to a friend from the area, he said, “Oh, he’s from Gerzerg? Yeah, they fought hard…”

Zido, his uncle, and his brothers took up positions and waited for ISIS. To the casual glance, their little village probably looked deserted. The militants barreled down the highway, confident they had the element of surprise.

“We killed at least 118 of them, but we lost so many of our own. We fought until our ammunition was spent, then we had to fall back. I saw my uncle and brothers killed that night.”

Zido hid as ISIS overran their position. He managed to double back to his house, grabbing supplies and water, locking doors, and then he fled on foot.

He could hear the sporadic pops of gunfire around him in the dark, some far too close for comfort. He ran, walked, staggered, and stumbled for nearly 12 hours before he found someone who could drive him the rest of the way up the mountain.

At some point, in all the chaos and dehydration, Zido and his family were reunited. He led them on foot across the Syrian border. Eventually they found transportation to relative safety in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

That’s where I first met them.

Half-starved, alone, and traumatized after seeing friends and family killed and scattered.

When we first shared stories from his community, you jumped in to serve. Food and water, of course. Mattresses, heaters, blankets—anything to keep them warm that very first winter away from home.

Today, right now, there are battles in the streets of Zido’s village as Iraqi forces attempt to dislodge ISIS, street by street.

“My village is about halfway free now,” he told me recently. “I’ll go there tomorrow to try to help. I want to see it.”

After years of living in tents and an old shipping container, Zido is excited to be going home.

But what Zido and his family really need isn’t just more stuff or even a village to go back to. It’s a livelihood. It’s dignity. It’s a chance to rebuild what they’ve lost. It’s a way for Zido, father of 6, to provide for his family’s needs again.

Zido is an intelligent, brave, compassionate father and husband—and now thanks to you, he and his wife are running a business together.

Zido has become a dear friend and brother to us—he’s like our own kin. And seeing his family come alive building their business, rebooting their life, crafting handmade soap—it has been one of our greatest joys.

Seeing the same possibility for other displaced families in Syria and Iraq—that’s one of our greatest hopes for the future. And you can help make it happen.

Every purchase of Kinsman Soap helps provide small business grants to displaced people like Zido so they can remake their world.

Shop now and support refugee families.