Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Orphans in Bagdad

Photo from cbsnews.com

Welcome to an orphanage in Bagdad
, where 24 special-needs orphans were found tied to cribs.

Originally, boys and girls were housed together, but then someone separated the boys and sent them to an orphanage with no governmental oversight.

Witness their condition:
- Naked
- Starving
- On the concrete floor
- Lying in their own waste
- In temperatures up to 120 degrees

Was the orphanage poor?
No, it was well-stocked with food. The central office of the facility was well-kept, in stark contrast to the feces-ridden squalor surrounding the children. Brand-new cribs found in storage still had plastic covering their unused mattresses. Clothing was folded neatly, designated to be sold at the black market, rather than worn by children.

But the caretaker of the facility followed his greed, rather than caring for the children with whom he had been entrusted. Staff members cooked only for themselves.

What will be the future for Iraqi orphans?
As a CBS reporter has commented, "How a nation cares for its most vulnerable is one of the most important benchmarks for health in any society."

Last year, the United Nations estimated that there were about 40,000 orphan children in Iraq. That number is steadily rising... The current war has cost many children one or both parents.

In Iraqi culture, orphans are often scorned. Islamic sharia law forbids foreigners from adopting Iraqi children. It also disallows Iraqis from giving adopted children their family name and inheritance.

I would like to know if there is any way around this. Even in the best of the Iraqi orphanages, the children within are starving for love and attention, desperate for human contact. During an NBC interview, one little girl called the cameraman "Daddy."

Without loving intervention, these children might grow up to be future terrorists. Quammara al-Janni, coordinator of orphan programs through the Red Crescent (the Arab Red Cross), reminded reporters that Saddam Hussein was raised as an orphan.

Breakdown in families, breakdown in communication
In April 2007, while working to reunite family members, social workers discovered that 100 Iraqi street children thought to be orphans (86 boys, 33 girls) actually had family members somewhere in Iraq who were willing to take them in. In most cases, the parents had died, and children didn't know how to contact relatives.

This might be an important first step to take: Trying to reconnect children with extended family members in Iraq...

Engel, Richard. Iraqi orphans face uncertain future. NBC Nightly News, May 26, 2006.
Logan, Lara. Clinging to life in a Bagdad orphanage. CBS News, June 18, 2007.
Potter, Beth. Social workers launch effort to find homes for orphans, others. USA Today, May 31, 2005.
Street orphans of Bagdad: Thousands of homeless kids live on the street in the war zone, without shelter or aid. CBS News, May 8, 2007.
Tarabay, Jamie. Help for Iraqi orphans falls on charities. NPR, April 8, 2007.
Troops discover Iraqi orphanage nightmare. CBS News, June 19, 2007.

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that is so sad. I just do not understand this world.
That picture makes me sick. What the hell is wrong with people?

The picture haunts me, too.

The lead journalist in this story was pondering about how on earth someone could treat children that way.

Her conclusion was that they deceived themselves into thinking of these young children as not-human.

In my opinion, this is the stuff that Nazis were made of...
Lisa, I found your blog from Jae Ran's. This story and the photo are most definitely haunting.

With your permission, I'd like to send the link to this article to a an organization I recently found called Give2Asia. This organization obtains and administers funding for a wide range of programs throughout Asia. I can't think of anything more worthy than solving this situation.

Thanks for this information.
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