What Being Kurdish Means to Me

Lifestyle


Note: Before you read this post, I kindly ask that you refrain from political comments about the referendum. This is my personal blog where I can openly share my most intimate thoughts and experiences with my readers. What you choose to take away from this article is at your discretion but please respect that we all come from different walks of life that we should not judge or discriminate upon. Thank you xo! – Sazan
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I remember in 2nd grade a kid asked me, “Where are you from?” I said, “Kurdistan but I was born here in America.” She looked at me and said, “Where is that?” As an 8 year old (who’s still horrible at geography might I add) I couldn’t refer her to the map because well, Kurdistan isn’t on the map. As I got older, and more friends and school mates would ask the same question I referred to what my parents taught me about my heritage and where we come from.
 
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The Kurdish people have been split up into several regions that spread across the Middle East. This mostly includes Northern Iraq (where my family is from), parts of Iran, Turkey and Syria, but Kurds can be found in several other countries in that region. The first time my family was able to visit Kurdistan, back in 2004, I was so intrigued by how beautiful and wonderful Kurdistan (North of Iraq) was. To be honest, I always pictured Iraq looking very different in my head, more desert less green but Kurdistan was so lush and mountainous, so much like Southern California minus the beaches.
 
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I seldom share heritage posts like this here on the blog, partially because this is a fashion and beauty focused channel, but there is a beautiful side of who I am that I’ve never had an opportunity to openly express. God has led me here today and has put it on my heart to share this very historic moment in Kurdish history happening right now.  The Kurdistan I know and love, the Kurdistan that my ancestors fought and died protecting – may finally gain it’s independence and be free from a country it never truly fit into.
 
I come from a family that has always been proud to be Kurdish, both on my mother’s side and my father’s side. Growing up my dad would always say “Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are or where you come from. You are Kurdish no matter what anyone says”. My grandfather (on my father’s side) was a Peshmerga who traveled and fought alongside Mulla Mustafa Barzani, who some may call the “Father of Kurdistan”. My grandfather, Siyamand Barzani was martyred in the 1960s, when my father was a very young boy. I never met him in person but he has always been one of the most important people in my family’s life and we carry his memory with us always. In Kurdish we call him a “Shahid” and in our culture “Shahid Namirin” which translates to martyrs don’t die.
 
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My grandfather on my mother’s side, Jamal Bekhtyar, has also dedicated his entire life to the Kurdish cause. He is an artist who has depicted the Kurdish struggle through his paintings his entire life. Him and his family were forced to flee Kurdistan as refugees because of a political artwork he created depicting the cruel behavior of the Baa’th party towards the Kurds in the 1970s. It’s terrifying to hear that Saddam Hussein was on the hunt to kill my grandfather. My grandpa Jamal is still alive and well today, hopeful that he too will witness an independent Kurdistan.
 
So you see, this referendum is more than just a vote for yes or no. My vote will be dedicated to the head of our family, my Grandfather Siyamand, who sacrificed his own life for Kurdistan, for the moment we are standing in front of right now. His blood along with the blood of so many has been spilled for far too long. This vote is for all of the families who have had to say goodbye to members of their own, the ones who sacrificed their existence for the safety and existence of Kurds and Kurdistan. I vote BALE (yes) for them.
 
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I hope one day my daughter (who will be half Kurdish) will have the opportunity to point to her mother’s country on a map for anyone who may ask her where her family comes from.
 
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My husband Stevie has always embraced my Kurdish heritage and wants our children to understand the value of where they come from. It is a desire of his to visit Kurdistan one day. But first? He’s working on his Kurdish speaking skills and is actively learning the language.
 
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September 25, 2017 is a date that my family and I (as well as all of you!) get to witness in our lifetime. Truthfully, I’ve never been so excited to vote for something in my life! It is very emotional for me because I get to be a part of something my grandfather died for and I also get to witness my other grandfather watch a dream come true, a dream that has been denied for a very long time. It’s also a special tribute to the brave men and women who have been fighting these past few years against terror, defending not only their fellow Kurds but so many others who have found refuge in Kurdistan. No group of people deserves to live in a world where they are not recognized. No group of people deserves to live stateless and oppressed.
 
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My sister Sayran and I decided to collaborate on this post to bring the vision of Kurdistan to life through fashion and beauty. The vibrant colors we chose represent new life and change. From past to present, we incorporated our traditional dresses with a new but powerful twist. I did both of our makeup looks and decided to take the beautiful colors from the Kurdish flag (Red, Yellow, and Green). I credit my love for color and statement making to my Kurdish culture.
 
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I can’t end this post without saying a few words about our Kurdish President Masoud Barzani. It goes without saying his entire life has been dedicated to the moment we stand in front of today and for that I am grateful. I admire and respect his leadership and devotion to Kurdistan and his peaceful and welcoming approach towards all people. Salute to him and all the other champions of freedom who have made this moment possible. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Kurdistan, a time for growth and change and hopefully acceptance in this world of ours. This is truly a dream for all Kurds, to have a place where we feel safe and at home. Biji Kurdistan, BALE bo referendum.
 
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Special thanks to:
Photography by Jon Volk
Jewelry by Shop Sayran
Graphic Tees & Hats by Peshmerga Clothing


Sazan
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  1. Hi Sazan,

    this is Aslihan; also Kurdisch from Turkish Part. Your post touched so much my heart, you expressed so nice, all what we have been gone through

    I hope one day there will be a united Kurdistan and we all live under the most beautiful flag

    Stay so, as you are

    All the best to you and and your family

    Warm regards
    Aslihan

  2. Sazan, this post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your heritage and family’s story with us. I pray Kurdistan will finally have it’s place on the map ❤️

  3. I Love it ❤️ 💛💚 #IndependenceForKudistan

    Best wishes from your kurdish sister in Germany 💕

  4. As a kurd I am really proud of having a beautiful and talented woman as you! Biji Sazan! Bale bo referendum!! 💚💛❤️

  5. Well said, so proud of you. My uncle and cousin each married kordis and our family has really enjoyed the culture. As a Jew and Zionist I believe that every people deserve to have their country be recognized and safe. Best of luck.

  6. Wonderful words, words that every kurdish person can refer to. God bless Barzani for everything he has done to get us here. Biji kurdistan, biji peshmarga, her biji barzani ❤️

  7. Truely i was waiting for these pics and written words , am a kurdish woman and living in duhok, we are counting seconds to vote, we never dreamt of this , to be a country and to have our heritage as ours, not known worldly as neighbor countries’, dear let me tell u a part of my story , 4years ago , i went to turkey , unfortunately i was carrying an iraqi passport so they thought am arab, i told them am kurd from kurdistan , the soilder there told me there is no country as kurdistan , and i was sure he knew who i am and where am i from , that is so heart breaking despite all the blood our families shed only to be identified, i got pissed and i sweared to my mom that one day we gonna carry kurdish passport and am going to go there and search for that soilder to show him where am from

  8. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for writing this beautiful post. As a half-Kurdish girl, I sincerely pray that my homeland finally becomes independent from all our oppressors.
    Azadî bo Kurdistan! ❤💛💚
    Best wishes to you and your family

  9. Bless you Sazan and you beliefs. Pray for people in Palestine and I can relate to when you were asked where you were from.
    I said “palestine” as a child and i felt so ashamed like I said something wrong. Praying for Gods will for the people in Kurdistan.

  10. So proud of you sazan barzani finally we do it, freedom was our dream for the long time good bless kurdistan 🙏 your post touched my heart ❤💛💚 har bzhi sazan

  11. Hi!
    Can someone please tell me where I can vote for the referendum in Los Angeles?

    God bless ❤️

  12. My grandfather fought along Mala Mustafa Barzani too, I’m all for an independent Kurdistan as a Kurd. This is every Kurd’s dream, but I don’t support Masoud Barzani to be our president, not at all. We’ve suffered enough.That’s why I might not vote or even vote no because somehow it makes more sense to be oppressed by a non-Kurdish leader than a Kurdish leader.
    I know I should have kept my political views to myself, but enough is enough, calling for independence with no stragetical plan with the area being in such a critical situation when your people are living in poverty not being paid their salaries for years. Nonesense. You might not allow this commented to posted, but I wish you’ve read it till the ene, because I cringe when you always show your support to Masoud Barzani.

    1. I love the blog but your comment! 🙌🏽🙌🏽 Kurdistan is not united and stable enough at the moment, votes should be postponed!

      1. It will never be stable enough and there will never be a ‘perfect moment’. We are surrounded by countries that don’t support or even like us. It is now or never. Once we have our independence and our own country, we can build/create the Kurdistan we want. No body is being oppressed by President Barzani, he’s sacrificed his whole life for his country ✌🏻

    2. Just like the other reply, I love Sazan’s post! It’s beautifully written and a great introduction of Kurdistan for outsiders.
      But then when it comes to the truth, only the rich and the ones living abroad support this referendum!!! I personally wouldn’t want Barzani as my president. He’s the kind of president that closes parliament doors whenever he wants and opens them when he needs a law made for him! What kind of an independent state can we expect from such a president? Not to mention that he’s not really the president anymore but he refuses to have another president elected!!

  13. Also..Such a beautiful post! I’m proud to have such an great person like you Representing my culture.
    Your are truly beautiful inside out ❤️

    God bless you Sazan gyan ❤️

  14. Girl, I am so proud that I can finally relate to a blogger like you! I was like literally close to happy tears while reading this (not sure why, maybe because everything you mentioned is absolutely true!) Such a lovely thing to come across before heading to bed, culture is so important and being part of a nation that’s so close knit and loves it’s people is even more important too. Take care hun and hope you have a lovely weekend. Xx

  15. Dear sazan
    I loved your text and i totally understand you. My parents are kurdish, they both grew up in Turkey. They had to flee from the turkish government, because they weren’t allowed to speak kurdish. I’ve been born in Germany, speak german and kurdish and every time when someone asks me where my roots are and i tell them i’m Kurdish… They are like “wtf, what’s that? Where is your county? Isn’t kurdish and turkish the same?” And this really frustrates me!
    My parents and grandparents would love to see a united Kurdistan. They’ve seen so many Bad Things that happened to kurds… And although my Home is in Germany i would be delighted to see a Kurdistan. Because that’s what every Kurd is wishing for. These are my roots.

    Many Kisses
    Dilcan

  16. Thank you for sharing Satan! I definitely can understand/related to your experiences as a child and explaining your heritage to others- being that I am half Palestinian and we continue to struggle for our independence!
    Such a blessing you get to witness this historic moment for your country and people ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  17. As a Kurd girl from southern Kurdistan (iraqi Kurdistan) I’m proud of you we really need people like you to announce Kurdistan to the world keep going girl you’re the best 💗

  18. Thank you so much Sazan! This is by far the most beautiful post I have read.can’t wait for monday and now I’m even more excited❤️

  19. Beautiful post Sazan! Your family history is a beautiful one and I’m so happy to hear that you guys have come to this breakthrough after so much struggle. Thank you for sharing your rich culture with us! Beautiful post.

  20. Hey sazan , it’s elham . And i’m from iran so i understand the kurdish words you wrote so we use it in persian language also , and i love kurdish ppl , a also heard about kurdish ppl and they are so beautyful , even if kurdistan is not in the map , we know you ❤️

  21. Sazan, I feel like were probably related! My family is from Amedi and Duhok!

    I also hated having to explain to everyone where Kurdistan is on the map. I’ve always felt like an outsider. I have never met many Kurdish people until I went to Kurdistan. Of course I was obsessed with your blog once I found out you were Kurdish! Keep it up!

    #bijiKurdistan

    Please let Stevie teach me Kurdish once he learns.

  22. So beautiful to read and I’m proud of you our stunning girls! I’m so happy that i just turned 18 and my first time of voting will be thd independence of my country ❤️💛💚 keep up your great influence and i love you guys alot🌸💞

  23. Hi Beautiful Satan,
    This post moved me to tears. You expressed your Thoughts beutifully.I remembered my own childhood with all the quastions about my heritage and Culture from everybody else in Class. Yesterday i drove my parents to the airport. We are kurds from qers (Turkish part,but originally armenia) They want to be a part of this historic time in kurdish history and are now in hewlêr. my father works since 40 Years politically for the freedom of kurdistan. They are so exited,happy and proud. I Hope they return happy. I say ERÊ to the Referendum.

    All the best for you and your Family.

  24. Beautifully written, Sazan. I’m a 21 year old Kurdish-Iranian and I’m extremely proud of my heritage and what we Kurds will be witnessing in only 2 days. Thank you for being such a great influence to others. I really appreciate people like you and your husband Stevie, an American, who’s not afraid to learn about our rich history and culture and be a part of it. Keep up all the good work. Love you guys.
    Har bezhi Kurd u Kurdistan. Peace
    Much love,
    Naz

  25. Bijî Kurd û Kurdistan, I love this piece and the pictures along with it. Amazing work, amazing jewellery and amazing artwork by your grandfather. Indepdence will soon will be ours. ❤️💛💚✌🏼

  26. I admire your passion for your people. I would also like to say thanks to your people, bc my people in Iraq ( the Chaldean people ) have been helped and saved by the Kurds. We are totally neighbors up there in northern Iraq. And omgosh ur food is the same food as ours. Your moms spreads looks like mine moms, lol ( dolma is life). I’m very happy this day has come for you guys. Of course it’s well overdue.
    Visiting Iraq to me is must, someday, insallah.
    I will always be proud of where I came from too, it’s just who we are.
    Much Love ❤️
    Natalie

  27. Har beji kurd u Kurdistan qurbani sazan Gyan so proud of you babe 💪🏼🇹🇯✌🏼❤️❤️

  28. I’m a 16 year old kurdish erbil only 1 day For sar baxoy Kurdistan finally so excited 😭❤️ Instagram: makeuppgooaals ❤️ Xoxo

  29. I’m so glad you shared this Sazan! Even though your blog is mostly fashion and beauty, there are so many fashion blogs and I LOVED learning about you as an individual and your heritage! Being proud and talking about that kind of stuff sets you apart. I am half-Iranian and totally related to the “where are you from” conversations we all dealt with as children (and continue to as adults). Sending all the good thoughts to Kurdistan at this super important time; and looking forward to more posts from you about your family!! 🙂

  30. Balê bo Kurdistanê Azad! balê bo sarbaxoy♥️☀️💚 so proud to be Kurdish. Thank you for your story specialy those people who read your blog and don’t know Kurdish history. Her bijî Sazan gyan xoxo.

  31. This is my first time reading your blog and I am
    So glad I did! What a beautiful post. I am
    So happy for you and your family. What an amazing feeling it must be to know that this is the culmination of so much sacrifice. God bless
    You and your fam!

  32. Wow Sazan! A beautiful post, honestly and sadly I didn’t know a lot about Kurdistan and the fight your people are going through.
    Thanks so much for sharing, and for being so real and unique, you are truly an inspiration.
    I’m from Mexico and things are a little rough here with everything thats going on, but It’s amazing to see people getting over their differences and sticking together for a cause.
    I hope that you guys get what you deserve and have been aiming and fighting for so long!
    XO from Mexico!
    Mariana

  33. Sazan, this is well written. Thank you. I too am so proud to be Kurdish. May this vote lead to negotions for a new nation: Kurdistan.

  34. I love you so much Sazan. Thank you for taking the time and giving attention to te Referendum. I had to the deal with the same isues when I grew up, many would make fun out of me and told me you have no country where is it? Show us? That had a really big impact of me because I was young and I didnt understand. Then I was afraid to tell people I am from Kurdistan because I still thought they will make fun out of me. But as the years went by and I grew older I realized there isn’t anything more beautiful,to not be ashamed where you come from and embrace your roots. And that is what I have been doing since then. I love how you express yourself despite of how many negative comment you get on Instagram, always when your posting something about Kurds. Negative people will always be there but we should only focus on the positive ones. Thank you Sazan

    BALE BALE BALE 💚❤💛

  35. You state that your maternal grandfather’s last name is Bekhtyar but where did that name come from? Is it not a root word from Farsi? Is it not taken from the Bakhtiar tribes of Iran? You say you vote “Bale” but, is “Bale” not Farsi/Persian? You say “shahid namrin” but is not taken from Farsi? You talked about the tragedy Saddam brought on to Kurds in Iraq but what about Iran that opened its borders and let Kurds come in? The only reason there is a “Kurdistan” in Iran is because of that. Do you not think a referendum could have dire consequences for those countries who have shown kindness? I find the Kurds are courageous and hard working, truly. But, the world isn’t as black and white as you have written in your post.

  36. I proud of you the great kurdish woman – i am a neighbor here in red meadow i hope to see you and your husband visits to your land

    The opportunities are warm we believe we will get succeeded with the referendum so then we can share the independent state publicly ASAP

    Best
    Karwan mino
    At mergasor

  37. These bought tears to my eyes. I belong to a country (Baluchistan) that brings the same story as of Kurds. We were decided to three countries (Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan) by the British in the World War II and since then we are struggling to regain our freedom and point to our own country on the world map and say this is where I belong to. Thank you Sazan and Sayran for the wounderful blog. Biji Kurdistan, Bale bo referendum

  38. Thank you for the amazing post. I truly hope Kurdistan will find its place on the map. May all the Kurds who live there experience Peace and Freedom.

  39. French kurdish here.
    Thx for that post. It’s good to see a proud kurdish influencer.
    Her biji Kurdistan 💚❤💛

  40. this is so beautifully written. i can feel your love for your country. i really appreciate you for being so proud of your culture and helping other people understand what cultural and country love is. i have always seen people who feel so ashamed and never talk openly about their culture. cultural values should never be forgotten.❤️
    and yesssss praying for your safest delivery and i cant wait to see our little sazieve 💋😻

  41. I love your blog and your post, it’s so important that Kurdish people with a large following talk about this and bring recognition to our history and culture. Kurdish people have been oppressed for what feels like forever. My dad also had to flee sadams regime and ended up in the UK and meeting my Irish mother. Although I am only half Kurdish I have always been taught about my culture and was able to visit Iraqi Kurdistan a few years ago for the first time- my dad didn’t see his family for 26 years. I hope your daughter feels strongly about your culture and will be able to visit Kurdistan, an independent country in the future. I don’t support Barzani and I don’t think Kurdistan is united enough for this step, I believe they will be left in critical condition and our people will face more persecution. The time is coming & the world is learning more about Kurds, their courage & everlasting hope that one day their land will be free. I hope that votes are postponed so Kurdistan can prepare for this. Whatever the political beliefs are, Kurds is Kurds and I support you because you are a positive Kurdish role model. We all want and pray for the same thing in the end ❤️

    1. Also want to add that your family fled Kurdistan so that their children would have the freedom and safety to be whatever they want & talk openly and freely about their beliefs. You are living the dream they would have had for you, and with your platform sharing the culture and history that was once life threatening for them, it’s amazing ❤️ I hope we hear and see more about your culture in your future posts.

  42. When I was young, I could not say that I am kurdish at school. The reason: there were turkish girls who made very bad comments about kurdish people. So I had hidden this till I was 16 years old. My parents didn’t teach us kurdish because it was forbidden to speak in turkish society. I am 31 years old now and speak very well turkish. This can’t be!!! I had to hide my identity for much years. This is the reason why I hate turkish people now and as a lawyer I can’t understand this unfairnesse. So we have all our history and deserved it more than anyone else to have our own country ❤️

    1. Dear Yasemin,
      That’s a very sad story, to be honest. My family had to go through similar opression: being (half) kurdish and Alevi in Turkey they feared to speak their language and live their religion in public. Always had to hide their beliefs and heritage, although everyone would know who they are. Here in Germany, my parents taught us to stand up for our heritage, our roots and our religion!I’m so happy that I don’t have to hide who I am, altough that we face parts of a turkish community who have problems with kurds, too. I don’t care if they hate me for who I am, because I know they can’t harm me here in Germany 🙂

  43. So heart touching and you wrote this so beautifully. I have so much respect for you ❤❤❤. Aaiza from England.

  44. Hi Sazan, here’s Yeliz (born i Germany but kurdish from the turkish part)…. i loved your post, very well written and i’m sure, it expresses the feelings and the dilemma of many kurds…. it makes me happy to see, that our young people do not forget their heritage. No matter where they live or what they do. 😘✌🏽

  45. I wish you freedom and independence. In the end, we are all just humans and should focus on supporting each other instead of hating each other. All children deserve to speak their own language, exercise their culture and feel that they have a home and therefore I wish you happiness and freedom tomorrow. No matter what happens, just want to say never give up.

    Best wishes/

  46. Her biji sazan! Her biji kurdistan! I hope that all parts of kurdistan get Independent, and will be strong together. BASUR DESPE DIKE, bakur, rojava u rojhelat em heviya we nin.
    I am from bakur (turkish part)/ Germany , and I respect your passion for kurdistan and that you Are share this with the entire world. Barzani BALE!!
    But never forget the other leader, who gave his life for our rights and dreams. ABDULLAH ÖCALAN. Life in prison.. Dont forget his acts, he saved our language, our Identity and our rights!!!
    BERXWEDAN JIYANE !

  47. Thank you for sharing this with us! I didn’t know anything about Kurdistan before I read this post. Thank you for taking the time to share and educate us ❤️

  48. Beautiful post! I am deeply appreciative and proud of my Portuguese culture and heritage and feel it is something to embrace as it is who you are. I hope the referendum comes out in your favor for your culture and people. Culture is truly a beautiful thing and that which makes us unique. Best wishes xox

  49. I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you Sazan, for these beautiful words about our Kurdistan. I am from Duhok and I cannot express how incredibly excited I am about this next step towards our independence. Her biji Kurdistan ✌🏼

  50. Hi sazan, beautiful post. I was wondering, how were you able to vote while having an american place of birth? I am a kurd born in baghdad with now a Canadian passport and i couldnt vote based on the fact that i was born in Baghdad and not in a kurdish region.

  51. Hey sazan.

    Love your posts!
    I am also kurdish Iranian.

    I have a white boyfriend too. Will you teach your daughter kurdish? How will you Get her to not forget and accept the kurdish heritage. Hope you can do a video about this with Steve!!!

    All love❤️ Keep posting videoes on YouTube.

  52. This is beautiful, Sazan! You have such an interesting family background. I’ll be thinking of you today as the vote happens.

    Briana | youngsophisticate.com

  53. Hey love ur blog.
    I am also kurdish.

    This is not a mean comment.
    but.. Kurdistan is not iraq? We have to do this another way. Like u said we kurds are for all over. Even Georgia and Armenia. It’s not that i dont want Kurdistan to be a country. But we all are not iraqi.

  54. Well done, Sazan! It’s so important to remember about your identity…Nobody deserves to be oppressed and live without homeland and state. Unfortunately, I can’t vote, as I don’t belong to Iraqi Kurdistan. But I hope very much that all of us will be able to say: “I’m from Kurdistan!” and show it on the map with a lot of pride.
    P.S. “Kes nebê Kurd dimirin, Kurd jîn dibin!”

  55. Hi Sazan,

    Powerful read indeed. Thank you for sharing your heritage with the world.. I pray that Kurdistan gets the turnout they are hoping for and here to a great Independence… you are right every ethnic group deserves to be recognized and made to feel valued for who they are… God bless you.
    Xxx Lovena from the U.K.

  56. Good Morning Sazan,

    I wasn’t sure which tab to leave my remarks on so here goes: A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! Many thanks for sharing with us your beautiful heritage, giving us insight into Kurdistan and the beautiful, diverse Kurdish people. You and your sister do look alike :)! This past summer, I did some research on the Kurdish people, interceding for them in prayer. This scenario is similar to Isra’el when she did not have her own homeland. My dad’s ancestors emigrated from Liverpool, England to Kingston, Jamaica, then onward-settling in the Panhandle of Florida. There, they intermarried with the Cherokee and Choctaw Native Americans. Now I know where I get my love of turquoise from! My mom’s ancestors were kicked out of Spain (the Spanish Inquisition), arriving in Ireland. Not feeling safe, they set sail for Staten Island, NY settling in Pennsylvania. Praying for you, Stevie, Sweetie and the blessed arrival of Baby Hendrix. All the best.

  57. I forgot to add: While living in South Florida, one morning God woke me early saying He wanted me to start interceding for other people. That was early 2005. Now, He has me interceding in prayer for countries, one of which is Kurdistan. In doing some research this past summer, I discovered about 200,000 Kurdish people are Jewish and live in Jerusalem (my ancestry). Many thanks for sharing your beautiful Kurdish heritage with us and, the lush, green landscape of Northern Iraq. My prayers are for a united Kurdistan, full independence and their own homeland. Be blessed my sister!

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