H S and B in Iraq

I am pictured here with H—-, S—- and B—–.  H, S and B are best friends—fourteen years old—living with their mothers because their dads were killed in different conflicts since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. I met them while leading a Foundation 4 Orphans event at a community center in Halabja in 2013. At the time I was serving as a visiting professor at the University of Human Development in Sulaymaniyah, about 60 miles from Halabja.

Halabja is the location where Saddam Hussein’s forces unleashed a devastating chemical attack against the civilian population on March 25, 1989. H, S and B are Kurds—the largest ethnic group in the world without their own nation. Currently they are citizens of Iraq but in their minds they are citizens of a “yet to come into existence” Kurdistan.

H and S’s fathers were killed while serving in the Iraqi Army under Saddam Hussein, fighting against the US-led forces while simultaneously seeking a way to desert and get back to their families. Like many other Kurdish men, H and S’s fathers were draftees, forced to serve in the army while hating Saddam and the policies he represented. B’s father was killed fighting “insurgents,” the precursors of ISIS, in 2012, fighting under the flag of the Kurdish Regional Government. 

There are multiple causes that create orphans. Extreme poverty is the leading cause. Warfare is number two. Human beings have enough resources to end extreme poverty. Human beings can also bring an end to war.

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