June 9, 2006

San Diego residents come together to help child victims of war

By Luis Alonso Pérez

On the night of April 9, 2004, coalition forces dropped bombs over the city of Fallujah, Iraq; one of them fell near Ismaeel Khalaf’s home while everyone was sleeping, injuring his pregnant wife in the stomach and killing their unborn child. His seven year-old son Abdul-Hakeem Khalaf’s face was severely wounded.

He received attention in a local hospital, but returned home with half of his face disfigured and a blind left eye.

A few months ago, Abdul-Hakeem was brought to the United States by the No More Victims organization, a Los Angeles based non-profit that works to find sponsorships so war-injured Iraqi children can get the medical treatment they need to help them continue with their normal lives.

Now Abdul-Hakeem’s face has gone plastic and reconstructive surgery. His left eye couldn’t be saved, but was replaced with a prosthetic eye. He is now undergoing treatment before he can go back to Iraq.

On Wednesday, May 30, San Diego residents came together at Carlsbad’s Pilgrim United Church of Christ so they can work out a way to support this noble cause and hopefully sponsor another Iraqi child’s medical treatment. The event was organized by the North County Coalition for Peace and Justice, and from now on will take on the important mission of making this project possible by coordinating the local community.

A poster for No More Victims organization.

Cole Miller, the founder and director of No More Victims (NMV) spoke to the San Diego community about the young victims of the Iraqi war and what they can do to make a change in a kid’s life. By screening a short video and a power point presentation, he explained the basic medical and logistical needs of the whole operation. The community listened closely, particularly when Chad Hetman –a former Army officer and now member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War– spoke about his moving experience when he volunteer with NMV to bring Abdul-Hakeem to Pittsburg.

After viewing Cole Miller’s presentation, Imam Taha Hassane of the Islamic Center of San Diego, came up to the front of the room and thanked Miller and Hetman for their work and pledged his support in bringing a child to San Diego to receive medical treatment. Other members of the community offered to help out with the necessary plans, fundraising and logistical needs, and made a donation to No More Victims.

The activists were very thankful with the San Diego community and said that in this, our little corner of the world, a miracle can happen.

The most important aspect in bringing a child to the United States is to assure Pro-bono medical attention. So the organizers called on the community to ask friends in the medical field to collaborate with the project.

If you would like to get involved with San Diego residents to sponsor an Iraqi child contact the North County Coalition for Peace and Justice: (760) 798 1987 or visit their website www.nccpj.org

If you are interested in learning more about the No More Victims organization go to www.nomorevictims.org

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