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Diverse Audience Attends First Healing Children of Conflict Event

November 6, 2009

Last night, 7:25 p.m. Afghanistan time, a NATO air strike killed six adults and three children working in their cornfields.  Last night, 7:25 Eastern Standard Time, a diverse group of Grand Rapids area residents were gathered for a fund raising dinner and silent auction sponsored by Healing Children of Conflict (HCC). This new local organization hopes to bring 30 children to Grand Rapids over the next ten years for medical treatment—children from the Middle East injured by the United States’ actions and munitions.

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More than 150 guests filled the 29th Street Hall: Muslims and Christians, college students and grandparents, Midwestern accents, middle Eastern accents—and a splash of Arabic in between. “We’re here to have a good time and raise some money, but also to share information about Healing Children of Conflict,” says HCC member, Bert DeVries. “It’s wonderful to see such a diverse group of people gather for a common cause, cutting across traditional boundaries around a common vision.”

HCC member Dr. Aly Mageed sees the HCC’s work from a medical perspective. He is familiar with the limitations of medical care available to the war-wounded in occupied territories like Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan. “They cannot afford the needed medical care there,” he says.  “And if they could, it is not available.”

After dinner, the group watched a short video presentation about an Iraqi child brought to the U.S. for medical treatment by the organization No More Victims. Salee, her brother and their best friend were playing hopscotch in their yard when a U.S. bomb exploded in the middle of them. Yards away, Salee’s parents were splattered with the flesh of their son. They ran to find Salle alive—but the blast had sheared off both of her legs. In addition, Salee’s sister, Rusul, had to have her mangled foot and ankle amputated. Funds raised from last night’s event are being used to help purchase new prosthetic legs for Salee.

A guest at the event, Bahia Shanaa, grew up in Lebanon as a Palestinian refugee. She came to the United States more than twenty years ago, at age 18. Her past as a child living in the midst of war still impacts her today. “There is never a day goes by that I am not reminded of the war. I cannot go to the movies. The theatres remind me of the bomb shelters,” she says. “During an attack, when you are a child and you know there is a bomb coming, you’re just waiting to die.”

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Shanaa has lost family members, friends and neighbors to Israeli terrorism in Palestine. “There is no excuse for violence. We don’t have the right to take anybody’s life,” she says. “I would hope for all children to have the same basics. To be able to go to sleep feeling safe, go to school and play at the playground. To be able to live.”

While the thousands of dead children killed by US involvement in Iraq, Gaza, and Afghanistan cannot be brought back to life, 30 of the thousands more who have lost arms, legs, eyes or survived other debilitating injuries will have a chance to improve their outcomes if this West Michigan group has its way. “We have a moral responsibility to do what we can to help kids whose lives have been changed because of our actions,” says HCC member Christine Yared. “We hope it helps the cause of peace when people hear these human stories.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. karen permalink
    November 7, 2009 8:57 pm

    A wonderful story about a wonderful event.

  2. stelle slootmaker permalink
    November 7, 2009 10:55 pm

    Thank you, Karen. Any word on how much was raised for Salee?

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