Sophia's Peace Work

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Sinking Ship

I was able to offer a friend of mine a job. The caveat? The job is in Baghdad with the strong possibility that it could move to the much safer area of Northern Iraq after a few months. My friend told me, "Best you not think of me for this job."

"Why?!?" I asked, "This job has a lot of potential and will lead to more and better work for you."
"I can not stay in Baghdad."

After a long and exhaustive discussion I realized that my friend is between a rock and a hard place. He is the only caregiver for his aged and ill mother who doesn't want to leave her comfortable home in Sadr City, even though she and her son can't risk going out the door for fear of being killed. She resists moving to the north where they apparently have relatives already and if he is offered a job in Baghdad, she would tell him just to stay at home where it is safe.

Only completely abandoning Iraq and starting over somewhere else seems to be a viable option (this, apparently, his mother would accept, if only so that her son could have a chance to start over again. If he did this, she would be willing to move to the safety of the north where her relatives are).

"I am thinking of going to Syria, like my cousin." He said, "From there I can buy a forged visa to Sweden. My cousin made it to Sweden and says there is work there."

After I tried to reason with my friend that this was a very dangerous thing to do and could probably mean that he loses all his money and ends up back on a plane, deported to Iraq, I realized that for him, it was the only thing he was really willing to consider. Anything less than leaving Iraq altogether was just not worth considering.

He had, until recently, been doing work inside the Green Zone ... (one of the most hazardous things in Baghdad is going in and out of the Green Zone) but having a co-worker kidnapped, tortured and killed put a stop to that.

Now he sits a home, taking care of his mother, lonely and depressed, brooding on the impossibility of his life in his own homeland.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Some recent messages from friends in Iraq ...

From a friend who was, until recently, working inside the Green Zone:

"I will be interested in a job if it is at the north because I am planning to move to the north and have applied for some jobs over there and might travel to Arbile soon for that sake. I will still be interested to have a job at the north only because I have already left my job where Baghdad is completely unsafe. I have a gun in my belt as long as I am out side my home. I got sick and tired from this environment and cant continue anymore."

From a friend who is the director of an Iraqi environmental NGO:

"Did you hear about the kidnap of our group organization when we finshed the conference in tikrit government? At the midde way between baghdad & tikrit some of ganmen stoped our car; take us to unknown direction; they tied our arms , eyes , legs. They release us after 15 days. They kill one of our organiztion by knife. Also they toke our camera , labtop , car , cell phone , money, etc."

From another friend who runs an Iraqi environmental group:

"I'm very sorry ,today I could read my email, it was stopped because of very bad things happened where I live ,the terrorists threatened my sister and her husband and they send them a threatening letter to leave thier house or else they will kill her and her husband,so she left for another place also my older sister left, my brother with his family left, and I left temporirly for two weeks,before two days I return back to my house with fear on my son, my daughters, all my sisters and brothers and thier family lived near my house and they help me in many things, so I feel miserable those days."

From a friend who is a translator for American forces in Iraq:

"h r u doin? actually my job too dangerous and outside it is many IED we just responsible about the street and we do not make any raids and im inside the hamvee when my boss need me i ganna be outside the hamvee and some soldiers from US and another from Spanish or different countries. yes they respect me so much."

Note: I suspect my translator friend gets paid about $1000 per month for this work.