So, I was reading Newsweek story about a study done on children who lost parents on 9/11. Unsurprisingly, there's a higher instance of psychiatric illness among this group. My first thought was to the students I met while in New York City three months after the event. They weren't exactly 'children'- they were high schoolers - and one of them had lost an uncle, but no one I talked to lost a parent. The second place my thoughts went was to other children who have lost parents recently, tragically, and violently- not in New York, but in Iraq. What, I wondered, is happening to them? They are surely struggling with the same (or worse) fears that the American children are, the same illnesses and mental tortures. The difference is, they don't all have schools to go back to, or counselors and psychiatrists to talk to.
While still thinking about this, an article popped into my Google Reader, this time from CNN. It discusses just what I was thinking - the 'silent victims' of the war. It answered some of my questions- just as the American children suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, so are the Iraqi children- but the Iraqi children aren't getting professional help. Fifty percent of Iraq's psychiatrists have fled the country, so places to find help are few and far between. According to the two articles, children in Mosul, Iraq are suffering from PTSD at exactly the same rate as the children who lost parents in the Trade Center attack.
In the book I'm reading, Irresistible Revolution (still... I know... I should sit down and read more, seriously.), Shane Claiborne talks about his trip to Iraq after the war began (check out his Iraq journals), to visit with Iraqi Christians, and worship with them. On his trip, while traveling between cities, his car was in an accident and people were injured.
The doctors (one of whom spoke fluent English!) began immediately began taking care of them, apologizing for the severe limitations and scarce medical supplies due to the sanctions. And he explained that in the past week their town had been riddled with bombings – the communications center, the Customs building… and then with tears in his eyes he said: “Three days ago, they bombed the children’s hospital.” One of them men pointed to the bombed ruins only a hundred meters away. When they learned that several of us were from the US, the head doctor asked: “WHY this? WHY? Why is your government bombing us? Why?” In the same breath he added with a dignified smile: “You are our brothers. We take care of everyone – Christian, Muslim, Iraqi, American… it doesn’t matter. We are all human beings, sisters and brothers.”
Shane later reminds us that these Christians in Iraq are our brothers and sisters. These children are our children. If a member of my church was hurting like this, I'd care more. I need to remember that those that are hurting are part of my Church, and part of the human family, and we cannot forget the children of Iraq any more than we can the children on 9/11.
Check out the I Have Family In Iraq campaign.
Another note: I do have family in Iraq- Josh's cousin, one of the groomsmen in my wedding, is there right now. I hope and pray all the time that this gets over quickly and he can come home safely to his wife and two children.