HER dark brown hair is dyed a flattering lighter shade.
She wears a thin gold bracelet around one wrist.
And she’s holding her hand near her face, her fingers twisted in a ‘V’ for victory, the same cheeky hand signal favoured by tourists the world over.
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In any other circumstances, you could be forgiven for thinking she was a tourist herself, taking a happy snap while exploring new lands.
But the photo is of a soldier in the Middle East: she is a fighter, known only as ‘Rehana’, who is reportedly responsible for taking down more than 100 ISIS terrorists in Kobane, Syria.
There are thousands upon thousands of brave young females just like Rehana who are part of a growing movement that has become the 10,000 strong, fully-female militia unit YPJ, dedicated to defending Kurdish territory.
From the comfort of my couch, I’ve watched the news stories unfold about the growing ISIS ‘conflict’ – it seems like such an ineffective word to describe such a devastating war, but I’ve failed to come up with anything more appropriate – and I’ve felt sadness and compassion towards the everyday people who are needlessly suffering in the Middle East.
But I’ve never truly been able to fully relate, or to put myself in their position, until I saw that image.
This week we’ve endured unexpectedly scorching hot temperatures on the Gold Coast, and my mind has been preoccupied with such trivial things – fretting over the cost of running the air-conditioner, or worrying that my kids are eating too much sugar via the lemonade iceblocks they inhale in every 30 seconds.
Meanwhile, women just like me are currently in Kobane, preparing to lay their life on the line to literally defend their freedom.
I read that new soldiers in training in the YPJ get around six hours of sleep a night and wake up at 4am.
I, too, average six hours of sleep and my day often starts at 4 or 5am – but it’s usually my teething baby or tired preschooler, not a gruelling day of physical training, that awaits me.
Australia really is the lucky country and we have so much to be grateful for. As the weather grows warmer over the coming weeks and you find yourself tempted to complain about the heat, I have one suggestion: just imagine how much hotter it would be under the weight of a full military uniform.
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