Help Sick and Disabled Iraqi Children Rebuild Their Lives

MADRE has discovered hundreds of children in the Iraqi town of Haweeja born with profound disabilities, and more who are developing cancer. Evidence points to a US military base one mile from town, where for years, soldiers detonated chemical weapons in an open field.

After nine years of war and occupation and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the US is anxious to abandon its responsibility to this country. But we won’t abandon our sisters and their struggle to overcome the terrible legacy the US war has left behind.

Yanar Mohammed, our partner in Iraq, wrote this letter to you and to all MADRE supporters. We're committed to answer her call to action. Join us.


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Dear Friend,

Haweeja 1 (c) OWFI.JPGIn the town of Haweeja, in Iraq, an alarming number of children are being born with underdeveloped and paralyzed arms and legs. Or they’re born blind, or with cerebral palsy, or brain atrophy.

Sometimes, there are as many as four disabled children in one family. And now, cancers, including childhood leukemia, are appearing more and more.

The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq – MADRE’s partner here – discovered this crisis when we went to Haweeja to work with women there. That’s when we learned that at least 600 children in this small town are disabled, living in pain, or dying without medical care, with untold numbers more in neighboring villages.

This was also when we discovered that Haweeja is the backyard dumping site of a US military base.

Haweeja 2 (c) OWFI.JPGFor years, US soldiers practiced detonating ammunition and explosives in an open field just one mile from the center of town. The field is right next to a playground, with no barriers to stop children from wandering through.

I am turning to you today to ask for your help. Sick children in Iraq are in dire need of health care and basic medical supplies if they are to have a chance to thrive – to survive. I will personally make sure your generosity is delivered to the families who are most in need.

Your gift will buy:

  • medicines to help stop pain and seizures
  • wheelchairs and physical therapy equipment
  • safe drinking water and basic food supplies for families whose land has been contaminated

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Let me tell you about Yusuf.

Born without fingers and toes, little Yusuf asked his mother when his toes would grow so that he could have shoes like the other children. With special shoes, he could stand. With crutches, he could learn to walk. With physical therapy, he could learn to hold a pencil and go to school. How little it takes to change a child’s life.

There are so many stories like Yusef’s in Haweeja. And as children continue to be born into this environment, there will be more.

Your friendship has never failed us. Here in Iraq, you have shown us what is possible when we make deep, human connections that transcend boundaries.

The mothers of Haweeja need you now, when all others refuse to hear their cries. Please show them that although you’re an ocean away, you hear them.

Thanking you with all my heart,

Yanar Mohammed
Director of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq


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