In My Mother's Arms
Of all the consequences from the Iraq War, the tenuous existence of thousands of young orphans is one of the most heartbreaking. Between the dangers of life on the streets and the brutal conditions of state-run orphanages, this high-risk population has few options for survival and a decidedly uncertain future. But in the violence-ridden Ali Sadr neighborhood of Baghdad, one determined man named Husham is trying to offer an alternative: an independent orphanage with no government support, housed in a small two-bedroom residence, where thirty-two Iraqi boys live, eat, play, sleep, and go to school together. It is a fragile ecosystem, to be sure. The majority of the boys have emotional problems of varying degrees of severity, yet Husham lacks the resources to hire a psychologist or even a female caretaker (all six caretakers are volunteers and male), who might better help them with their unique challenges and provide the maternal love they desperately crave. Husham spends much of his time soliciting donations from local shopkeepers, foundations, and state agencies in a desperate effort to keep his charges off the streets, but despite his tireless work and palpable anguish over the boys' fate, there is little certainty that this safe haven will ultimately save any of them from a life of suffering and violence.