Twelve-year-old Wihad was standing on a hill in Lalish, her people’s holiest site, delivering a poem to honor a famous Yezidi commander. Sheikh Khairy Khedr was mortally wounded by shrapnel while defending Shingal (or Sinjar) from ISIS in October 2014.

Wihad didn’t always recite poems. In early 2014, she was just a student in Shiba Sheikh, a village in Shingal. But life changed after ISIS attacked and enslaved thousands of Yezidis in August. After that, she moved to a refugee camp and turned to poetry.

Her favorite poem is “God Will Grant Our Right,” but today she has a different refrain:

Who are these people?
What creatures are they?
Where have they come from?
Are they human? Or ogres?
They seems to be the same tribes
Who came a thousand years ago…
Those who sought our destruction
What did they have against us?
They killed our brothers.
They enslaved our mothers.
They forcefully abducted our sisters.
What did they have against us?
They did that to us.
We didn’t do anything to them.

She often performs poems written by her father, accompanied by her brother on the flute. She says her favorite subject in school is English, and she shows off her knowledge by saying the word “book.” None of her four sisters share her interest in poetry.

Though she has only been performing for a few years, her voice draws crowds and her father says she has released 2 CDs.