Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Will you help this family?

Our last visit of the day takes us into an impoverished neighborhood. We hurry past one angry young man throwing rocks at a window in an apartment above us and yelling.

Eman and Mohammed have four teenage children. The twin girls are 16. They have two brothers, one 18 years old and the other is 16.

The twins are very bright. They quit school at age 13 when they left Iraq in 2005. Even so, they both were able to speak some English with me - more than most children here who are taking English language at school - and they also taught themselves to speak Urdu because they had a friend who speaks it. Their smiles are bright despite their grim surroundings and circumstances.

The 18 year old son is away at his new job. He has been hired to pull a wagon to haul things for people for 3JD a day. He has been robbed twice; local thugs know who is working and who is vulnerable.

The youngest son, Mohammed, was working in a restaurant until he lost the ends of several of his fingers in a meat grinder a month ago. He shows us the healing fingers and his mother says that he avoids getting infection in them by cleaning them with Detol (a brand of antiseptic household cleaner)

Eman crochetes rough bath mitts from hemp and sells them to local merchants. She receives 1JD for every three mitts. She said that she can, on a good day when her hands aren't hurting, make three mitts. 1JD is equal to $1.40 - an abysmally low daily wage.

Mohammed is in obvious pain as he sits close to a small gasoline stove. He has severe arthritis as well as diabetes. An aid organization pays for the medications he needs - sometimes. Sometimes they just give him enough for a half month so he goes without part of the month. No matter how warm it is, the pain in his joints is unbearable. Even in the oppressive heat of summer, he cannot stand it for a fan to be on.

I asked how their lives are different than they were when they lived in Baghdad. Mohammed told us, "Of course, it was better. I owned my own house" He had a shop where he sold antiques. But the deteriorating security situation in Iraq in 2005 forced them to leave. Mohammed adds, "Even today Baghdad is not secure enough to live in."

Eman tells us that what is hardest about their situation now is, "Life in general"
She adds, "The children do not go to school, we have no house, no place to live. Nothing is easy. The children don't have a father (because of his illnesses) The money from selling our house in Baghdad is completely gone. Nothing is left."

We brought food assistance but the main reason Eman had contacted Maha is that she hopes she can be granted a Micro-Project. She has professional training as a seamstress and, if she can get an industrial sewing machine, she has been assured she can do contract work in her home for a local clothing manufacturer.

Because donations to our projects have dropped dramatically, Collateral Repair Project has had to regretfully suspend our Micro-Project program. But still, every day, Maha receives calls from Iraqis pleading for a Micro-Project. In cases like Eman's, we really see how a Micro-Project could improve this family's situation.

Last week, we met another family who we felt would very much benefit from a Micro-Project and we asked Code Pink NYC if they would dedicate all of the funds they raised at their CRP benefit to go towards helping this woman get her Micro-Project. They agreed and now Um Abdullah (read her story below) will be getting camera equipment to film weddings and parties.

We would love to be able to tell Eman that she will get an industrial sewing machine so she can bring in some much needed money for her family's support.

Wont you and your affinity group, faith group, co-workers, or friends pitch in to help Eman? $450 will buy her an industrial machine, an overlock machine and basic sewing equipment.
Please CONTACT US if you want to help!