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.