On April 9, 2004 at 11:00 pm, during the First Siege of Fallujah, Abdul Hakeem and his family were asleep at home when mortar rounds fired by US forces rained down on their home. Abdul Hakeem's mother suffered abdominal and chest injuries. Eight months pregnant, she lost Abdul Hakeem's unborn sister. His older brother and sister were also injured. Abdul Hakeem received severe injuries to his face and eye from shrapnel.
At that time, US forces did not permit ambulances to transport civilian casualties to the hospital. In fact, they fired on ambulances in violation of international law. A neighbor volunteered to take the family to the hospital, where doctors assessed Hakeem's chances of survival at five percent. The doctors told Ismaeel, his father, that Abdul Hakeem must go to the hospital in Baghdad for treatment.
Ismaeel had to stay with his wife and other injured children, but he sent Abdul Hakeem to Baghdad with his uncle. During the attack, the US forces were only allowing women to leave the city. When they reached the city's border, the uncle waved a white shirt in the air for the American soldiers. When they saw he had an injured child, they put both of them on a plane to Baghdad. After twelve days, Ismaeel was able to go to Baghdad to see his son, but was devasted when, despite several surgeries, he found him in the same state as before. There was little they could do.
No More Victims learned about Abdul Hakeem in March of 2005. In early 2006, Chad Hetman, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, spent six weeks in Amman guiding Hakeem and his father through the difficult and time-consuming visa process. He accompanied them to Pittsburgh, where they arrived in February 2006.
During that first visit, Hakeem received medical treatment from Pittsburgh Children's Hospital. He was fitted for a prosthetic eye, which dramatically improved his appearance. His TMJ was restored on the left side, and skin grafting and stretching removed 50% of the scar tissue. After several months of surgeries, he and his father returned to Iraq.
No More Victims is a non-profit, non-sectarian, humanitarian organization which brings war-injured Iraqi children to the United States for medical treatment. Maybe it's a little too late to save your dad from the dreaded tie this Father's Day, but it's never too late to save a child-victim of war. You can honor your dad and help a father who was unable to protect his own child from war by making a donation here and by learning more here.
TAGS: Iraq War, peace, children, children of war