One of my all-time favorite quotes is by the sweater-changing, puppet-serenading Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
As the war with ISIS enters a new stage here in Iraq, there’s an invisible group of helpers that I want you to meet...
It was his nightly routine for years. After supper was eaten and the dishes washed, after the evening visitors had come to enjoy tea and conversation, after the children were tucked into bed and his wife began yawning, Sami moved through his home to make sure it was secure for the night. He checked the front gate to make sure it was bolted closed. He did the same at the front door, and then made sure the windows were secure.
Kids are kids no matter where they live. They want to have fun, be silly, laugh and imagine. But, tragically, when violence strikes— whether in the form of bullets and bombs, or natural disasters—the joy of childhood is often one of its first victims.
A staggering 3.3 million Iraqis have been displaced by war, according to the latest UN figures. To put that in perspective, that’s almost 10 percent of the entire country. It’s more than the entire population of Chicago or Paris. And that’s not counting the quarter million Syrian refugees who have fled to the Kurdish region of Iraq.
But here’s the thing you really need to know: 2.5 million of these people do NOT live in the sprawling tent cities you see on the news, with UN logos emblazoned everywhere.
You can feel it in the air in this part of Mosul, the desperation.
While we were here distributing food the other day, two conflicting realities played out before our eyes: Iraqi forces declaring victory in Mosul on the one hand, while on the other hand bombs continued to fall and ISIS continued continued to attack.
Yesterday we entered the Old City, one street away from the last pockets of ISIS resistance in Mosul. The destruction here is beyond anything I’ve seen.
Update: On July 19th, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by a lower court to expand the State Department’s definition of which “bona fide relationships” exempt people from the travel ban. As a result, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and grandchildren will be exempt, as well as sisters- and brothers-in-law. However, the court overturned another part of the ruling to that would have allowed refugees to enter the country if they already had a contract with a resettlement agency. This could impact as many as 24,000 refugees.
On June 29, a partial version of President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban went into effect, after a Supreme Court ruling Monday cleared the way.
You may have questions. Here’s what we know.