Monday, March 9, 2009

"This is my life now - I am either on this pillow sleeping or lifting my head to take medicine'" - March 7 09

Mohammed lives with his son and daughter-in-law. He told us that he had been living in a small, rundown 1 room place under a building until they invited him to live with them. Now he spends all of his time on his sleeping mat in front of the television. He tells us, "This is my life now - I am either on this pillow sleeping or lifting my head to take medicine'"

This is very different than his life before the US invasion. Then he was a manager in the Transportation Ministry. He had a Masters degree and two undergraduate degrees. His son was well educated and became an engineer. Mohammed lived comfortably with his wife and their children in Baghdad.

But academics and those who worked in government institutions became targets for assassination after the invasion. Mohammed found his name on a hit-list on the front page of a newspaper. Then, when he was at the UN, giving a presentation, he heard that one of his colleagues that was supposed to also present had been killed. Mohammed left the country immediately. He told us that most of those whose names were on the hit-list have been murdered.

Mohammed's wife and their three unmarried daughters are still in Iraq. They live in a tent refugee camp in Baghdad and rely on charity to live. He has nothing to offer them. He said, "In my profession, I could make 3 million dinar a month in Iraq. But if my life is threatened there, what good is any of that?"

His son is not in but his wife, Evan, is. She sits pensively on a mat across from me while her father-in-law tells us that her husband had also been threatened, probably because he was a professional - an engineer. Militia burned their house and stole their car. Mohammed adds that Evan was also threatened because her mother was a Christian married to a Muslim. Her brother was shot while attending university. Evan sold all of her gold jewelry in order to finance their exodus to Jordan. Now all of the money is gone. The stress has taken it's toll on her husband; he now has diabetes.

And, as many couples who endured such upheaval and trauma, the couple have not been able to conceive. Evan tells us that they checked to see what it would cost to get infertility treatment. It would cost $2000 - an impossible sum for them in their current circumstances.

Mohammed hopes for immigration. He complains that many who came to Jordan after they did have already been resettled. There is no sense to it, in his mind. He wants his son to be able to work, for him and Evan to have children. He wants help for them, at least, to be resettled so that they can have a chance at a life.

Mohammed has diabetes and other ailments. He shows us the bag of prescription medications he must take. Their total monthly cost is around 150JD. His UNHCR monthly grant is 115JD.

"We lost all that we had in Iraq - our home, our cars, our money, all of it. Here everything is so expensive. We can't buy anything here. I need treatment but I cannot afford it"