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In Her Shoes by guest author Lindsay White

Thursday, 20. October 2011 2:47

Rusul Jalal, left, enjoying her visit with guest author Lindsay White, right

There are some moments in life that change a person, like getting asked to prom, or passing the license test, or…meeting an Iraqi girl with one leg. Her name is Rusul and she is the bravest girl I know. At five years old, she lost one of her legs when an American bomb landed in her backyard. She had been playing outside with her brother and sister, just playing, when the bomb appeared out of nowhere and caught them by surprise. Rusul was the lucky one; her sister Salee lost both legs and her brother Akram did not make it out alive. Not long after the injury, Rusul and her father came to the United States so that she could get the prosthetics she needed. Salee had come the year before for double prostheses as both her legs were blown off above the knee.  Since my mother’s friend was working with the group No More Victims to help arrange for Rusul’s medical treatment, my family and I went all the way to South Carolina so that we could meet her.

We were at a children’s hospital. Her dark brown eyes focused on my face as I
stepped into the dimly lit room. I smiled at her, knowing she must be worried
about the surgery that was soon to come, and she smiled back shyly. She stood
close to her father, half-hidden behind him, using her crutches to support
herself. She seemed frightened, unsure of what to expect. It was a strange
feeling; no one had ever been scared of me before. I remember wondering what it
would be like to be in her shoes, going for help to the very country that hurt
her in the first place. It was the kind of thing I had read about in history
books or seen on television, not something that happened in real life. Or at
least, not something that should happen in real life.

When a woman who worked at the hospital suggested that Rusul show me to her toy
room, Rusul’s face lit up almost instantly and a sudden spark of confidence
emerged. Before I knew it, we were heading down a long, narrow hallway. As we
entered the room, Rusul immediately began showing me her toys, which I later
learned had been gifts from Americans around the country. She was proud of them
all, holding each one up for me to see.

Rusul seemed especially fond of a game that showed pictures of animals and read off
the English version of the name with the press of a button. She pointed eagerly
to a picture of a chubby, pink pig and looked at me. “Cow?” she asked. “No, no
that’s a pig,” I said, smiling. “Cow,” she said certainly, laughing, knowing it
was really a pig but trying to convince me otherwise. I laughed with her. It
amazed me that she was able to laugh so easily after all she had been through,
losing not only her leg, but her brother as well. It didn’t seem fair, that
this innocent girl had been hurt for no reason.

Meeting Rusul made me realize that we truly can change lives. No More Victims had been able to give Salee new legs, allowing her to be able to walk again, and now Rusul had a new foot. These miracles made me recognize that I could make a difference in other people’s lives, too.

From that point on, I realized that the things I’d cared about most had been so
trivial, like going to prom or getting my driver’s license. I knew that, like
my mom’s friend, I wanted to be able to help other people. For that reason, I joined
Key Club my junior year of high school and have done a great deal of community
service since then.

One of the most memorable community service events I took part in was a unified
sports game at my school. During this event, I taught elementary school
children, both with and without disabilities, how to bowl. It made me happy to
know that the kids really seemed to enjoy learning and that I had made a difference
in their lives by teaching them how to work together and help each other.

Some other community service experiences I’ve had include watching children on hay
rides while their parents were away, making masks and costumes for kids for
Halloween, working concession stands, and cleaning up after events. Ever since
I met Rusul, I realized how important it is to reach out to others and hope to
continue to do that in the future. There were so many things in my life that I had been taking for granted; meeting Rusul proved that. Maybe I had been wrong; maybe it truly was a cow in the picture.

Guest author, Lindsay White, is a senior at Glastonbury High School in Connecticut.  Lindsay met Rusul in 2008 when Rusul came from Iraq to the United States for amputation and prosthetic care.  Rusul is back home in a town outside of Fallujah, living with her parents and siblings, including sister Salee, who lost both legs in the airstrike that injured Rusul. 

I’m grateful to Lindsay for this beautiful addition to my blog.  To learn more about Rusul, please click here.

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Nonviolent Insistence!

Friday, 18. March 2011 0:04

Many, many thanks to my friend, inspiration, and guest author Beth DeLap for this important post.  Please read, watch the attached video, and join us on March 19th!  Below is Salee Allawe (read “Salee’s Got New Legs” for more info) and author Beth DeLap enjoying some time together in Greenville, South Carolina – March, 2011.

Salee and Author, Beth DeLap

Cooler weather means more time in the house, and that means more time on Facebook with its myriad links and videos and soundbites.  You can “Facebook” for hours, and that’s exactly what I did this evening.  Now I should be going to bed, but not until I get this down. 

Somewhere on someone’s Facebook commentary, I found the link below and felt inspired.  The young man is so real, with his soft face and the uncertain movements of the camera, the din in the background, together with his credentials as a military person.  He’s suggesting that we, like the people of Egypt, really CAN make a difference by demonstrating with our whole heart, and he invites us to join him March 19th to insist on the end to what he calls “endless war.”  To insist upon it.  Nonviolently, like the Egyptians. 

He suggests that maybe that is really not such a fantastic fantasy… that we might bring about the end, or the virtual end, of the collective mental illness we call war. 

Reading and watching the video journals of ordinary Iraqis you see how disenfranchised they feel from their new “democratic” government.  The “democracy” that was violently forced on the country continues to be government-by-force… which is not a democracy, no matter how loudly you proclaim it to be so.  The Iraqi people still live (and countless die) not under democracy but under the “law” of brutality and injustice, the law of “might makes right” upon which W. based his illegal and brutal invasion.  The fact that Obama’s presentation is less hateful and pugnacious than W.’s does nothing to take away a parent’s grief at the loss of his child in uniform, or a Pakistani child’s grief at the loss of her mother to a drone attack.

When our strong nation’s example to the rest of the world is  “might makes right,” why wouldn’t others aspire to the same?  Is it not a miracle when they don’t… for example, in Egypt, where a peaceful revolution was accomplished by the collective effort of ordinary citizens.  It’s for us to stand up and notice their good example.

I don’t think of myself as a left-wing nut.    But because I thought this youtube was useful and worth sharing, there are some who will think I am.  I have something to say about that.  Over my years I have been privileged to engage in hundreds of conversations with many different people, good people who have polar opposite ideas about God, politics, how people should act.  But no matter how opposite, we always have one thing in common–our amazement, horror, and indignation that other people don’t see it our way.   In our country, more and more, we Republicans and Democrats are like that.  We call each other right wing, left wing, nut, fanatic, etc.  Bottom line is that we want to live, and that means we don’t want our identity/culture taken away by someone stronger, some bully who insists that they, not we, are right.  If I want to read the New Yorker, let me.  If I thump my Bible, let me.  And let me raise my kids to do the same.  That’s not so difficult, and it’s actually the story of humankind, getting along in spite of differences, sometimes huge differences. That’s the foundation for a healthy democracy, that’s what makes for a vibrant community–our differences.   America will continue to be a wonderful, hot, bubbling melting pot.  At the moment we’re giving birth to Reform Islam, among so many other things.  People come here to change, whether they know it or not.  It’s the story of our country.  We learn and change together. 

The threat isn’t that others will come here and change us!  The threat is that we will do to ourselves what we fear–we will close up our minds and become rigid fundamentalist violent scaredy-cats, whether on the left or the right.

I really have to scratch my head, wondering what is it that gets us so fired up–so feared up–that we forget how easy it is to get along, and begin wringing our hands and pointing our fingers and grabbing our guns and hopping around like a band of wild monkeys?  I suppose at the end of the day (the year, the century, the millennium)  it’s the same old culprit.  The escalation to war is about money, the greed of a few people who are super good at manipulating the rest of us.  It’s an old scam.  “Let’s you and him fight.”  Politicians are salespeople.  The W. Bush “commercial” about weapons of mass destruction ran continuously on our tv screens until we were sold the war that enriched all of W.’s good friends, but left our country as broke as it’s ever been financially and otherwise.  We ordinary citizens, here and in Iraq, will be paying for their bounty for generations to come.

But we are decent beings and more and more of us are doing away with the television, the soundbites, the commercials, the STUFF.  We are curious, smart, and by nature designed to grow and learn.  War is becoming old-fashioned in the age of information.  We  can’t help but insist that together we will create superior methods for solving our problems and bridging our conflicts.   The life-saving strategy of our world family’s future will be one of “endless diplomacy” and patience and reaching out to each other.  Soon war will look like cave man days.  “How can I explain it Susie?  It was totally self-destructive, but people used to do that.”  What a peculiar thing to do to each other when there are plenty of other options, endless options.

I am sorry that you will have to suffer, Halliburton and the oil industry (war is oil’s biggest customer), but you won’t wither and die when war becomes a thing of the past.  You’ll survive in some less malignant form even as the rest of us refuse to blow each other up.  Don’t dismay, owners of service stations, and Republicans, and Democrats for the war, and war Christians, and peace protesters, and self-righteous writers of letters to the editor, and you career military folks on the brink of retirement, all of you with your strong views and your need to be needed.  We love you.  We’ve bought gas from you, and grown up with you, and marched with you, and voted for/against you.  We have read your editorials and we have written back.  We ARE you.  No need for anybody to be left behind. 

We’ll figure it out together.  That’s what people do — when they don’t have bombs falling on them.

It really is my bedtime so I’ll just say this about March 19th.  Let’s show up, bright and energetic, our best, most beautiful selves, and be counted in just that way on that day.  Let’s be wholeheartedly nonviolent as we insist on nonviolence.  And let’s call it a celebration rather than a demonstration.  We are celebrating our collective intelligence, power, decency and hope on March 19th.  Across the globe, ordinary people have these things in common.  (Even when we appear to be polar opposites, calling God by some weird name for example, or driving on the wrong side of the road.) 

I love my brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters, civilians and soldiers alike.  I love them too much to stay home on March 19th.  I happen to be invited to a birthday party on that day, and I’ll tell you, that’s going to fit right in.

G’night, y’all.  — Beth DeLap, The Whole Salamander

(Here’s the YOUTUBE)             www.youtube.com/watch

(AND HERE’S OUR STOREFRONT)              stores.lulu.com/store.php

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Salee’s Got New Legs!

Wednesday, 23. February 2011 18:20

Probably most of you reading this will know about Salee Allawe.  Salee lost both of her legs to a US air strike in Iraq in 2006, while outside playing hopscotch with her siblings and friends.  Her brother and best friend were killed and her little sister was also injured.  In 2007, No More Victims brought Salee to Greenville, South Carolina’s Shriners Hospital for new legs and she comes back every year to 18 months for new prosthetics as she grows. 

Now, thanks to so many of you who donated to help, her treatment is in process and she’s beginning to walk comfortably as she receives care once again at Shriners.  Ronald McDonald House of Greenville, truly their “home away from home”, has welcomed Salee and her father Hussein, (affectionately known as Abu Ali), once again, with open arms. 

Community organizers, friends and NMV volunteers in the Greenville area say that Salee’s English has vastly improved (it’s her favorite subject at school) and that her sense of humor and ready laugh hasn’t changed a bit.  She still wants to be a doctor when she grows up, an occupation that I feel sure was inspired by her wonderful doctors in Iraq who saved her life after the air strike, working with very few supplies and within a medical infrastructure devastated by the invasion of their country, and her kind and caring doctors at Shriners Hospital in Greenville (especially her favorite and much-loved prosthetist, “Dr. Ed” who’s currently recovering from surgery, himself) who donate their services to children in need, everywhere.  

Thank you again to each of you for all you do for Salee and the war-injured children of Iraq, and for a message of Peace!  No More Victims can still use your help; if you are able and have a chance, please donate .  If you’re not able to donate monetarily but are in the Greenville area, we encourage you to meet Salee and her father – they are beautiful Ambassadors of Peace and reminders that we are all one human family.

Photo Courtesy of Ted Christian

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MLK, the DoD and the Good Samaritan

Saturday, 22. January 2011 4:36

I’d seen the headlines but simply didn’t want to read the articles. You know the ones I mean?  Where the Defense Department’s general counsel claims that Martin Luther King would have “understood” our need to invade and occupy other people’s countries, terrorize their citizens, and kill their children?  What a way to commemorate this man of peace and love, but to say that if he were alive today, he’d realize he was all wrong, that he’d turn his back on his moral and religious values and decide that violence and hate were the solutions after all.

This morning a friend sent me the link to the article  on the Defense Department’s website and I succumbed and actually read it. I was more disheartened than I could have imagined. As if the “If he were alive today” blasphemy weren’t bad enough, Jeh Johnson, the general counsel who made the remarks in a keynote address on MLK for which he received a certificate of appreciation from the DoD, compared today’s troops to the Good Samaritan of the Bible.

Volunteers in today’s military, he said, “have made the conscious decision to travel a dangerous road and personally stop and administer aid to those who want peace, freedom and a better place in Iraq, in Afghanistan…”

Anyone who believes that the Iraqis and Afghanis consider our troops akin to the “Good Samaritan” deserves the Sarah Palin Award for Gullibility, and that special gold (from Glenn Beck’s personal stash) medal with “Don’t Retreat, Reload” skillfully engraved just below that aptly placed surveyor’s symbol.

As many of you reading my blog know, my husband Cole started No More Victims, a small non-profit in 2002,  just prior to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.   NMV pairs war-injured Iraqi children with communities across the country for medical care, in an effort to spread an awareness that will help to educate and advocate for Peace.  We’re currently in the process of bringing 13 year old Salee Allawe back to South Carolina for her third pair of prosthetic legs.  Salee lost her legs to a US air strike while playing hopscotch in her backyard in 2006.  She not only lost her legs, but her best friend and brother, as well.  Somehow, as kind and forgiving as Salee’s family is, I don’t think that by any stretch of the imagination they’d consider the dropping of that bomb on a group of children at play to be a shining example of that touching Biblical parable of compassion.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I simply don’t believe Mr. Johnson’s comparison works, either for Martin Luther King or for our nation’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. If our government thinks that we are so easily misled that we can believe that destroying other people’s countries and killing their children is an act of kindness, isn’t it about time that we stood up and told them we’re not that dumb!?

Sorry, but we’re not dumb enough to believe that it’s healthy

  •  to have 50 million people without health care,
  • to have a government that cares more about tax cuts for the super-rich than the increasing numbers of homeless lying in our streets,
  • that thinks the solution to a madman’s killing spree is not better mental health care but to arm more madmen with ever more lethal weapons,
  • and that Sarah was really looking for land to buy and those weren’t crosshairs on that map.

We’re not dumb enough to believe that Martin Luther King would approve of our invasions of other people’s countries, our destruction of their homes, our maiming and murder of their children, the torture of their men,  and the suspension of habeas corpus.  We don’t buy it and we don’t believe it. Let’s truly honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr this year and work to make this a more just and peaceful nation.

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“Just pick up a paper!” – Another Reason to Thank Wikileaks

Thursday, 6. January 2011 19:35

OK, at this point, anyone who really wants to read the news online knows not to rely entirely on any of our own nation’s network’s sites (though to give credit where it’s due– if you’re still interested in the debate over President Obama’s place of birth and have some doubt whether Hawaii is actually a state or not, or need an update on the emotional impact to Britney Spears when she stubbed her big toe tripping delightedly down Rodeo Drive laden with shopping bags, we’re the best.)  We know that FoxNews doesn’t even remotely resemble real “news” and studies have shown that we don’t get any smarter or more informed if we watch its constant stream of manic misinformation, but truth be told, viewers of the rest of our country’s major networks didn’t fare too well themselves when polled on current issues.

There is real news online from other parts of the world. Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and Al-Jazeera  host just a few of the wonderful sites that offer real world news.  I remember working in a German company in South Carolina for many years where young German engineering interns would come to work for months at a time.  There was always a shocked adjustment period when, after reading our newspapers and watching our nightly news, they realized that Americans weren’t actually getting the news.  Shortly after the initial invasion of Iraq, I remember one new German friend looking at me and saying, “People here really have no idea what you’re doing in Iraq or the rest of the world, do they?” 

It’s embarrassing, but true.  We are propagandized but refuse to yank the wool off of our eyes.  Unknowingly being lied to is one thing, but to see an entire nation being fed propaganda from a Styrofoam plate on a plastic McDonald’s tray, and have them respond to the life-threatening fare by licking their lips and lining up for seconds is truly disheartening.

It reminds me of our war criminal bestselling author ex-President who, prior to the invasion of Iraq, would repeatedly play the role of magician.  I so well remember those days when, standing before us in his top hat and black suit, he’d effortlessly slide a white-gloved hand into a lint-less pocket to pull out a dozen brightly colored ribbons.  He’d clasp his hands together, swatches of cloth inside, spin on his heels three times quickly while saying the words “Iraq” and “9/11” over and over and – VOILA! – he’d open his hands and out would come one long beautiful cloth!  (Seriously, no matter how many times Bush said the words “Iraq” and “9/11” in the same sentence, there was no connection – yet, our news fed it to us and we swallowed it with a satisfied burp.)

We joyfully fill out Medicare applications then take to the streets carrying signs saying “Keep government hands off our health insurance”.  We have more people in this country without health care than the entire population of Spain and we fight AGAINST a plan to insure us all!  We scream about taxes and gladly hand over tax cuts to the wealthiest among us….. as they go smiling all the way to the banks (which, of course, they own).  We proudly send our sons and daughters off to kill and be killed in lands that we couldn’t find on a map, and whose people did absolutely nothing to warrant our attacks (see paragraph 4 which also applies to Afghanistan and Pakistan…)

If we had real news, we’d be informed.  We’d have health care for everyone; we wouldn’t give tax cuts to the top 2% wealthiest Americans when we have homeless and hungry in our streets and record numbers of foreclosures every day.  We wouldn’t be spending billions of dollars killing people, people just like us, in faraway lands.  We wouldn’t be using the torture that is solitary confinement on Bradley Manning, a young man who has yet to be convicted of a crime, or the thousands of other inmates in solitary confinement in Supermax prisons across this country.

If we had real news, we’d know that we’re not always the good guy.

And why did I start this rant?  Because, in the process of preparing to bring Salee (a young Iraqi girl whose legs were blown off in a US air strike) here for her third pair of legs, a friend was on the phone with an Iraqi woman from an international mail office in Baghdad regarding Salee and her father’s passports.  This incredibly helpful woman mentioned that it’d take Salee’s father, Abu Ali, about two hours to get to her office by car.  Our friend asked why, since Salee’s town and the office aren’t far away from each other.  The woman replied simply, “Just pick up a paper!” 

She told him that there were so many checkpoints now that even a short distance could take hours in travel time.  She assumed we’d know that, but then again, most of the world probably does.  (We, of course, have thoroughly digested the story that we’ve left Iraq and moved on to other things, important things like the results of FoxNews’ online poll as to whether we’d continue shopping at a store that wished people “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”….)

Thank you to Wikileaks for exposing the real news.  Wikileaks has set the bar to “truth”.  It would be nice if someday, in the not too distant future, we could “Just pick up a paper” and in doing so, actually learn something.

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War Criminals, the Kardashians, and Little Girls without Legs

Wednesday, 1. December 2010 13:27

I just thought I’d give an update on some of my pastblog entries for anyone who’s been following.   To put it in a nutshell:

  • Salee is still without her own legs.
  • The war criminal responsible for the loss of Salee’s legs is #1 on the NY Times Bestseller List.
  • The Kardashians have a new book coming out (and I was wrong – there apparently isn’t a “Koko”, though I really think there should be.)
  • The elections didn’t result in a kinder, more loving nation.
  • And no, surprising as this may seem, that famous designer whose dresses cost more than a new pair of legs for Salee, never got back to me.

If any of this makes sense to anybody, could you please explain it to me?  I just don’t get it.  I mean, I don’t understand the people in this country who don’t think healthcare should be a human right, who are seriously considering cutting back on Social Security for our senior citizens, who think it’s OK for Wall Street to rule and for millionaires to get tax breaks while the middle class becomes homeless, and who will actually go out and buy books by a man who should be behind bars, who committed (and this is fact, not opinion, people) WAR CRIMES!!!  Invading and destroying other people’s nations, bombing their hospitals, blocking ambulances, shooting at, and killing, their children, and torture really are still considered criminal acts in civilized countries.

It’s enough to boggle the mind.

And, of course, those who aren’t politically minded, who aren’t rushing out to buy GW’s or Sarah’s or Glenn’s words of “wisdom”, can look forward to lighter holiday fare!  Yep – this is one for your Christmas Wish List, folks!  Those Kooky Kardashians have come out with yet another fascinating tome – “Kardashian Konfidential”!    If you just can’t wait, you can sign up on Amazon’s “pre-order” list today and be one of the first to own this important piece of literary excellence (and great boob job photos, to boot!)

OK, sorry for sounding cynical.  We’ll get Salee here and, if you can help us bring her back for new legs, please donate at http://nomorevictims.org/donate.php and let us know it’s for Salee with a notation in the comment box.  The tough part is that Salee is just one of so many who’ve been maimed by our bombs and to think people are supporting the man who ordered the invasion, while children like Salee can’t walk to school as a result, is a little disheartening.

It’ll give me some hope that there is still a modicum of sanity left in our nation if the Kardashian book doesn’t make the Bestseller List….

But then again, I just read that Kim Kardashian’s website (where you can read her fascinating blog to find out what she’s wearing today, AND, buy these precious teeny-weeny shorts with “A** Like Damn”on the back) gets 6 million hits a month.

Makes you think all hope is lost.

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“They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love”

Wednesday, 1. December 2010 2:10

Oh, how I wish that were true!

The words of my favorite childhood hymn seem sadly out of place today. The very word “Christianity” has been hijacked by so-called “Christians” who wouldn’t know Christ if they saw Him. They make me ashamed to call myself a “Christian” with their blasphemy. They’ve forgotten that as Christians we’re supposed to see Christ in EVERYONE we see. We can hardly blame our atheist friends when, with an ironic yet justifiable “holier than thou” attitude, they paint all Christians with a tainted and biased brush.

Christ told us simply to “love one another”; he didn’t make clarifications. How have we wandered so far from His message?

Christ always stood with the poor and downtrodden. He was the physical and spiritual embodiment of Peace and Love. If we were to vote as Christians, we’d vote for the poor, we’d vote for the immigrant, and we’d vote for Peace.

If we don’t see Christ in the gay teen being bullied by his peers, in the Muslim man crying as his Holy book is defiled, in the civilians of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan living in fear of our brutality and weapons, in the immigrant who’s fled to our country as a “safe haven” from his own, in the man whose wife is dying of breast cancer because they have no health insurance, in the homeless old woman living under the bridge that we drive by every day pretending not to see, we will not vote as Christians.

If we don’t see Christ in the faces of our most needy, we have no right to call ourselves Christian.

When I vote on Tuesday, I’ll keep Salee’s little sister Rusul in mind.  Rusul, though only a child, has one of the purest and most loving souls of anyone I’ve ever met. One day the two of us were together, driving up into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Rusul was overcome with joy at being away from the hospital, relaxing in the beauty of nature that surrounded her. She’d just had her foot amputated for she, too, had been a victim of the US air strike that took Salee’s legs and killed their brother.

Rusul’s beautiful smile made me feel so ashamed. I couldn’t hide the guilt I felt looking at the mangled and scarred stump where her foot should have been. I fought back tears, hid behind my sunglasses, and tried to keep my eyes on the road as she looked at me and said in her limited English,

“Oh Ann, I love the mountains! And, I love cats. And, I love you. But Ann”, and here she paused and sighed,

“I love God BIG!”

I learned so much from her, that beautiful little Muslim girl from Iraq.

Yes, on Tuesday, I’ll vote with her (and Christ) in mind.

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A New Dress or a Pair of Legs – Decisions, Decisions

Wednesday, 1. December 2010 1:53

OK, I’ll admit it.  I subscribed to “Los Angeles” magazine.  It was actually a $5 deal on Amazon and, being relatively new to the area, I thought it might be fun to see what’s around and help me a bit in navigating my new hometown.  (Though, if you know me, you know that the navigational device has yet to be invented that can prevent me from getting lost!  We do have a GPS – I find it works best to turn off the sound and just aim the car toward the little house icon – at least it gets me home!)

Anyway, nothing against the magazine but I was flipping through the November issue last night and ran across a fashion pictorial/article entitled “House Calls” showing photos of women who I read were “appropriately dressed for receiving guests at any time of day”.  OK, I’m really not going to go there – again, if you know me, you know my idea of “fashion” is dollar day at Goodwill or my new LA favorite, “Out of the Closet”, and $10 is pricey and only to be expended on rare occasions for fine holiday attire, weddings or proms.  The women in the magazine were shown casually lounging around in thousand dollar leggings (that SERIOUSLY don’t look THAT much better than my $5 ones – at least not if you’re squinting and it’s a fairly dark room), and$10,000 watches and bracelets as their male model gardeners, and water delivery men, and plumbers attended to their various needs (not going there, either.)

Anyway, I’m digressing.

The reason I’m even mentioning this, prior to committing the act of submitting the aforementioned reading material to the recycle bin, is because it occurred to me that the incredibly-coiffed, artfully made-up, appropriately accessorized, and surgically-enhanced coffee-drinking woman relaxing in the long grasses of her exotic backyard garden while gazing lovingly at the handsome young man delivering her bottled water, is wearing a dress that could buy both Abu Ali and Salee’s round-trip plane tickets!

It occurs to me that something is wrong with this picture.  OK, well there’s more than one thing wrong with that picture, but what I’m referring to is the fact that we’re struggling to raise the funds to get a little girl whose REAL legs were blown off by OUR bombs, whose brother and best friend were blown to pieces before her eyes, and who could care less about EVER wearing a $6,000 dress, a new pair of legs and this woman is covering herself (and actually could use a little MORE covering, I should add) with 3 or 4 yards of silk and wool that could PAY for Salee to get her new legs!   Something really bothers me about this picture (both literally and figuratively).

And, to quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that”.  Except that I’m going to write the designer right NOW and tell him about our Salee…


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Salee Needs New Legs

Tuesday, 30. November 2010 17:51

Salee needs new legs.  Wouldn’t it be nice, you might be thinking, to have new legs – faster ones, stronger ones, more shapely or muscular ones?

Salees 10th Birthday Party

Salees 10th Birthday Party

Of course, for those of you who know Salee’s story, you know that she doesn’t just “want” new legs.  She needs them.

Salee lost her legs to a US air strike in Hasswa, Iraq in 2006.  In 2007 No More Victims brought Salee to Greenville, South Carolina’s Shriners Hospital for new prosthetic legs.  She came back in August of 2009 for a second pair.  Shriners has committed to Salee’s care as she grows until she reaches the age of 18.

And now, Salee needs new legs.

Now that we’ve started fundraising to bring Salee back for her third pair of legs, I can’t help thinking of the first time Salee was here.  She was only 9 when she first came, a victim of war, or more accurately, a victim of the US invasion and occupation of her country.  The only experience Salee and her father, Abu Ali, had had with Americans prior to meeting my husband, Cole, and their arrival in the US, was of American soldiers.  They feared Americans.  Salee’d lost both of her legs to our bombs, her sister Rusul’s leg was twisted and mangled, and her brother Akram and best friend Tabaruk were blown to pieces before her eyes.

Salee and her friends were outside playing hopscotch at the time.

* * *

Salee has taught me so much about forgiveness and compassion.  When she and her father would thank my friend Selena and I for helping to bring them here for her new legs, we could never help but cry.  Thank US?  If it weren’t for us, she’d have her own legs instead of legs made of rubber and plastic and metal.  If it weren’t for us, she’d have her brother.  If it weren’t for us, she wouldn’t live in terror.

I remember Salee pointing to the sky one day when we were driving to the hospital.  She had only a few words in English but she wanted to show me the plane flying overhead.  She tapped me excitedly and with a questioning fear in her eyes, looked up, motioned to the plane and said, “ANN, plane!  ANN!” and made motions with her hands like raindrops falling.  But it wasn’t raindrops she was remembering falling from the planes.  It was bombs.  Fighting back tears threatening to spill from my own eyes, I said, “No Salee.  No bombs in America.  Planes OK.  No bombs in America”!

No Salee, our bombs are in YOUR country, falling from planes.  I felt so ashamed.

* * *

Salee overflows with charisma and joy and love and fun!  She became a household name in the Carolinas and I don’t think that anyone who met her will ever forget her.  She never complained; she was here to learn to walk again – to be able to go to school.  She worked hard toward her goal and, when she wasn’t working on her walking, Salee spread joy and laughter wherever she went.

Salee loved singing and dancing and laughing, most of all.   She joked and poked and tickled and giggled.  She smiled and smiled and smiled.  Salee had to have a revision (partial amputation) on one of her legs prior to her first pair of prosthetics being built.   She went into surgery laughing and joking and came out of anesthesia the same way.  She never could tolerate pity or tears.

The only times that Salee would talk seriously to me back then was when I’d be in a public restroom with her, helping her with her clothes and legs.  One day, she sat, staring at the scars on her stumps and sadly said to me, “Mama and Baba say, ‘What is this Salee!?  No legs???  What is THIS?”  Her sorrow wasn’t for herself but for her parents, finding their beautiful daughter lying bleeding and limbless.

Another time, before she left to go home to Iraq, I was again helping her with her clothes and she said to me, “Ann have two babies.”  I have just one beautiful son so I said, “No Salee, Ann have one baby” and Salee replied, “Salee have two mamas.  Ann have two babies.”

I couldn’t do anything but hug her.

And, both times that she’s left, she’s reminded all of her friends in the States who love her that she does not like tears!  She leaves demanding “No cry!!! No cry!  Salee come back.  Salee loves you BIG!”

We love Salee big, too.

***  For more information on Salee and her story, please visit www.nomorevictims.org .

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