Sinjar to Lincoln

A transmedia story by  Benjamin Rasmussen and Mike Shum

Sinjar to Lincoln is a combined web and text message story. To begin the experience, please text "go" to one of the following numbers.

+1 720-903-1671
+31 970-1420-0455

Above: A mural of Northern Iraq and the Peacock Angel, Tawsi Melek, the most important deity in the Yazidi religion.

The Yazidis

are an ancient religious group based around Mt. Sinjar in Northern Iraq. Long persecuted, they first began coming to America during Sadam Hussein’s purges in the 1990’s, and a community of Yazidis was established in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Many Yazidis worked for the coalition forces as interpreters during Operation Iraqi Freedom, which led to threats and attempts on their lives. A category of Special Immigrant Visas was created to allow interpreters and their families to come to the U.S., many of whom continued to come to Lincoln, growing the community from 1,200 to 2,500 immigrants by mid 2014.

The Hessos making bread in their garage. They were the first Yazidi family to move to Lincoln.

Hatim Ido worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military.
L: Alias Gares fell in love with tennis while working as a translator, watching matches late into the night.
R: A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter on Alias’s TV.