Stories about Iraq’s children hurt or born unhealthy as a result of the war have surfaced in the last few years. American doctors have tried to help, but it’s a challenge to bring the little boys and girls to the United States and raise money for those much-needed surgeries. The Assyrian Aid Society of Los Angeles worked hard to bring little Kirillos Shamuel to L.A. (Daily News, 2007). He had been born with congenital heart disease, a defect which has increased among Iraqi newborns in the last several years, according to this recent BBC report. The Assyrian Aid Society raises funds to help Assyrians in need, especially in Iraq, where sectarian violence has decimated the population residing in the ancestral homeland in the Nineveh Plains. The violence has led to killings, kidnappings, and forced migration. The society also raises funds to provide Assyrian children there with books and transportation to schools. From my story:
Kirillos Shamuel was born with a broken heart.
He came into a world that was – that still is – falling to pieces around him: the sounds of car bombs detonating at random on busy streets, the cries of men, women and children pelted by shards of glass and twisted metal, buildings that once housed stores and hospitals flattened to rubble and dust.
Had he been born here – where 30,000 children are born each year with congenital heart disease – Kirillos would have undergone surgery immediately to mend the hole in his tiny heart.
But he was born in Baghdad, Iraq, where bombing victims demand urgent care and a sick baby is simply deemed unlucky.
“I took him everywhere and asked for help, but everyone told me no, that there was no one who could do this surgery,” Vivian Shamuel said.
It was best, the doctors told her and her husband, Binyameen, just to take Kirillos home to die.