There is a generation of children growing up in Iraq who have known nothing but war. And in Haweeja, one small town, their bodies bear the signs of conflict. But together, we can help create health and healing.
For years, US soldiers detonated explosives and ammunition in an open field just one mile upstream from the center of town. Now, children are suffering unprecedented rates of birth defects and cancers. Haweeja is just one of many communities in Iraq contaminated by radioactive waste from US weapons.
But I'm writing with good news.
We are working with an organization in Iraq that provides victims of wars with medical care, rehabilitation and relief. They run a health center and have agreed to receive a group of children from Haweeja. Doctors there will examine the children – a vital first step to getting these kids the care and rehabilitation services they need.
Haweeja is about a three-hour drive from the health center, so we're also working with our local partners to coordinate transportation, food and accommodation for the children and their mothers. We could not have made this possible without the support of MADRE members – thank you.
This week, 10 years since the US invasion of Iraq, I've been talking a lot to our Iraqi sisters about what this anniversary means to them. We've mourned together, but through the sadness, I've been amazed at their resolve to create peace for their children, for their country.
The women of our sister organization there say that they draw strength from knowing that they have friends in the United States who stood with them throughout this war, demanding an end to the violence and delivering the support they need through MADRE.
And we're still mobilizing. We're bringing care to mothers and children in Haweeja. We're running an underground network of shelters for women escaping violence. And we're demanding accountability from the US government for causing this suffering.
Together, we can make the next 10 years in Iraq about building peace and justice.
MADRE Executive Director
P.S. - I wrote an op-ed with Yanar Mohammed, our partner, about what the past 10 years have meant for Iraqi women. Click here to read it.