Mission to Iraq

A group of 7 Golden Kids had been given an opportunity to go to Iraq on a special mission. We were part of the delegation of the Malaysian Ministry of Health comprising the Minister of Health, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, media, businessmen and medical officers.

Our mission is to interact and to bring some joy to the Iraqi children who are suffering as a result of the United Nation' s economic sanctions imposed 10 years ago. This visit is also to highlight the plight to all Malaysians and to witness the situation in the country that was once the richest country in the region but now left in destruction.

We left Kuala Lumpur on a midnight flight to Jordan on 12th of March. We didn' t fly straight into Iraq because it is a ' no-fly-zone' . We had to spend a night in Jordan before leaving for Baghdad the next day by car. It took us ten to eleven hours to reach Baghdad. Although it was quite tiring, but it was worth it.

On the first day in Iraq, we visited the Karradat Maryam Orphanagae. The kids were around the age of one to five. We were told that most of their parents died at a young age. The mothers died during child birth and accidents or as indirect result of the war.

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The orphans do not have many toys, books or entertainment like television or radio. We brought them boxes of chocolates, toilettries and even ballons and it' s as if we had brought rainbow of joy to them. We also visited the Saddam City Hospital and Baghdad Children Hospital.

The patients there were all under five. They were lacking in medicine, even basic medication like antibiotics to cure the common cold and fever. We noticed that there are no nurses in the hospitals. The patients are lacking attention and care that they need, most of them are taken care by their mothers and relatives. Statistics shows that 7,000 children die in Iraq monthly. When we were at one of the hospitals, a baby died of leukemia and this baby is one of the 7000 children that die every month. This poor baby suffered from leukemia.

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We also had the opportunity to visit their schools. The buildings are intact but they do not have enough books and stationeries. They are also short of classrooms, 40 to 50 students are cramped into one classroom and they even have to share tables and chairs. There are a lot of dropouts in Baghdad, because they think they are any use of studying. Clearly, there isn' t any future ahead of them.

We also had the chance to visit Emiriyiah Bomb Shelter. On 13th February 1991, at 4 o' clock in the morning, 2 laser guided missiles were launched at this shelter where there were hundreds of children sleeping soundly inside. The first bomb ' drilled' a hole on the

ceiling of five to six layers of steel and concrete, and it caused the doors to automatically sealed. Now, there is absolutely no escape for the innocent children. The second missile exploded a few minutes later and the hot water pipes burst. Boiling water cascaded onto the occupants and causing the temperature to rise up to 400 centigrate.

Due to the massive pressure and impact, the children who were sleeping on the top bunk of the triple decker bed were pushed up against the ceiling and till today leaving some of their foot and palm prints on the ceiling. 408 innocent victims died, around 100 of them were children and only 14 miraculously survived. Till this day, there are still skin and hair of the victims stuck onto the walls. The pictures of those who were sacrified that were hung onto the walls looked as if they are still calling out for help and their hope for peace and justice.

Besides all those unfortunate sufferings, the children of Iraq are also having breakdown in psychological development. They will grow up to be very edgy and violent due to the harsh environment they are living in. They also have very minimal exposure and are unaware of the happenings around the world.

How much longer do they have to suffer? They do not deserve to be punished by the crime they did not commit. I feel that it' s time that someone to do something to stop this! I hope that we can educate our audience, the young generation of Malaysia about the suffering in Iraq and how we have to be grateful to be living in a country with such stability and peace.

 by Nadia Nasharuddin