Sunday, November 2, 2008

Childhood in Iraq

I don't usually do this but I'm going to use a newspaper article as the basis for my post today. It touched me and I wanted to share it. I will paraphrase from the Los Angeles Times article by Jeffrey Fleishman and Raheem Salman.
They describe two brothers Karrar 12, and Allawi, 10. The school year has started but these boys have never been to school because they must work to support their parents and eight children in the family. Their father is ill and has no job. Karrar says,
" I'd like to go to school. I've never been to one. Not a single day. My friends tell me school is very beautiful."
A man named Ali Rashed owns a muffler shop and gave the boys a job after seeing them collecting tin cans.
He says, "It is better for the boys here than in the streets where they face bombs and explosives. I don't think they will have a good future. They are not educated and their family can't help them. They sometimes don't have anything to eat. How can you have a future if you have nothing to eat?
These boys and hundreds of others have been "shaped by war, honed by poverty. They are witness to sectarian violence, Shiite militias, angry sermons echoing through mosques.....These children might not know grammar and punctuation, but they know what to do when the bullets come, how to take cover, to hide from the kidnappers, the militants and the soldiers."
A United Nations report found that 94 percent of boys in Iraq attend elementary school, but that drops to 44 % by high school. For girls, 81% start elementary school; 31% go on to high school.
Karrar says, "I would love to join the National Guard. When I see them , I love them. They are brave, and I love how they stand with their guns."
Children passed beyond the garage; a few had book bags and new clothes, or at least well-scrubbed clothes. Karrar's father, Abdul Bidan, who has stopped in to say hi to his sons, whispered, "He gets jealous when he sees kids with book bags."


Billy said...

This is something that we don't focus enough on--the horror of war for civilians and children, the collateral damage, the poverty, fear ... and on and on. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This is very moving. Thank you for sharing it.

Julie said...

This is indeed moving. My heart is breaking in two. Thank you for sharing it.