Initiative Bringing Injured Iraqi Children, US Communities Together

AMMAN (Jordan Times) - Within the coming week, Mustafa Abed and Mustafa Ghazwan, two Iraqi children severely injured during separate incidents in the Iraq war, are scheduled cross the Atlantic to receive free medical treatment with the help of US-based human rights organisation No More Victims (NMV).

Since 2004, the organisation has been working in Amman to facilitate medical treatment in Jordan, Syria and the US for Iraqi children directly injured by US-led coalition military operations. The medical care is completely paid for by American community groups, employing Iraqi doctors displaced by the conflict to perform surgeries and rehabilitative services for affected children.

The organisation came about from the need to “empower American communities to help injured children and their families” and establish “bonds of friendship between individual Iraqi families and people in the United States,” NMV cofounder Cole Miller told The Jordan Times.

For Iraqi children travelling to the US for treatment and American host communities sponsoring their stay and medical care, the harsh realities of the Iraq war are undeniable.

“Iraqi children function as unofficial ambassadors for the whole situation and people of Iraq,” said an Iraqi coordinator of the project.

The series of grassroots NMV projects “have changed the opinions of many Iraqis about who Americans are… showing Iraqis that the American people are not the same as the current administration,” he noted.

As for the two boys, who both arrived in Amman two weeks ago, US medical treatment is only a week away.

Five-year-old Abed is scheduled to undergo surgery and fitting for a prosthetic limb in the US city of Portland, Oregon. During a November 2004 military operation in Falluja, shrapnel from an errant missile tore his left leg and most of his hip from his body.

Ghazwan, on the other hand, has not been able to speak after a missile struck the building next to his Baqouba home in January 2007, destroying the two-year-old’s ability to hear.

A San Francisco, California community group has agreed to sponsor

Mustafa Abed and Mustafa Ghaswan in Amman.

Ghazwan’s surgery to implant a cochlear device in his ear, as well as several months of rehabilitative treatment from speech therapists. It is hoped that after surgery, Ghazwan will regain his ability to hear and begin the long process of learning how to speak again.

The boys’ fathers, Hussein Ghazwan and Ahmad Abed, will accompany their sons to the US, but both men were initially hesitant to believe NMV’s offer of assistance was genuine.

“They suffer from anxiety and mistrust of NGOs because of previous false and broken promises,” according to the coordinator.

Yet when asked to comment on his impressions of NMV’s help thus far, Ghazwan was unequivocal in saying, “NMV is giving my family and my child hope for a better life.”

Previously, NMV has helped connect a blind girl with a retinal surgeon who restored her eyesight, another young girl had her ability to walk restored after a missile took both her legs, and a young boy underwent plastic surgery to improve his appearance after his face was disfigured by a bomb.

NMV is quick to make it known that these projects are not a form of charity, but rather “expressions of responsibility” on behalf of individual American citizens and communities.

The coordinator said NMV’s work does not necessarily represent a larger trend of reconciliation and improved relations between individual Iraqis and Americans, but that “reconciliation is a long story, and this is step one”.

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