Omar - No More Victims
Seeing the effects of war with my own eyes this week has been a very powerful experience. I saw Omar, a five-year old Iraqi boy at a concert I went to. I hadn't paid a lot of attention to information about the concert. I knew it was partly a benefit for my local United for Peace and Justice group and that I could easily get there by bus.
When I got there I learned it was also a benefit for an organization called No More Victims. That sounded good, but I still didn't know just what that was. Some literature and the opening speaker informed me that "No More Victims works to obtain medical sponsorships for war-injured Iraqi children and to forge ties between the children, their families and communities in the United States."
And in the middle of this introduction, in bounds this little boy, Omar. I could see him coming in and the great smile he had on his face. The he turned around and I was horrified. The right side of his head had no hair, several very large bumps and generally looked deformed. I'm not proud of this, but I was quite uncomfortable looking at him. But then the emcee started to talk to him. He had been involved with Omar's care in Boston. Omar started talking to the presenter and also to the audience. He was smiling and generally hamming it up. He had what turned out to be a 6 foot long rubber snake that seemed to be an extension of himself. It got easier to look at him.
I learned that Omar was traveling from Mosul to Baghdad with his mother, father, and brother to celebrate Eid and came under fire from US forces. Now I was really horrified and there was no turning away, nothing to ease the feelings, the anger, the remorse, the total disgust and wonder that human beings can do such things to each other, to children, to their families, to their countries. It was only later that I learned that Omar's mother was killed in the attack as were three other people.
The No More Victims site tells us that "Omar's medical treatment continues at Children's Hospital in Boston. The explosive injury Omar sustained after US forces opened fire on a passenger vehicle near Samarra caused severe burn injuries of the scalp, the right side of his face and his right ear. He lost the thumb and index finger on his right hand, which is also severely burned. The other burned areas include the right forearm and a severe palmar burn on the left hand that essentially fixed his left thumb to his palm. These injuries left Omar severely disfigured and with minimal, crude use of his hands and arms."
Looking back on seeing Omar at this concert, I am amazed at how much treatment he had to get him to that point. He was running around, and it didn't seem that he had any pain or physical limitations in his movement. He clearly enjoys music, playing a pretty mean air guitar for much of the show. At the end of the concert Omar said he wanted to go up on stage. His dad held him up to the microphone and the crowd hushed and then gasped at his simple two words "thank you."
You can see some videos of Omar and other children being helped by No More Victims. They are hard to watch, but also hopeful.
I urge you to go to the No More Victims website. There are children or projects in several cities and locations where we have ESWoW members. Asheville, NC and Pittsburgh, PA are among them.
I'm not sure how exactly I will incorporate this experience into my life. From what I can tell, they have enough people volunteering to help Omar and his father at this point. But I do know that just as seeing the Winter Soldier testimonies deepened my commitment to working for peace, so does seeing Omar running around in the town next to mine, so far from his home, and wondering about all the children who might not be able to get the treatment they need, but not live.