Monday, May 09, 2005

Suffer the little children

I went with the medics to one of the local villages the other day. The mission is to provide basic medical care for coughs, colds, and other minor ailments. Again, this is something we take for granted in the U.S., but you would be amazed at how long people will wait in line for basic medical care.

Whenever I interact with the Iraqi people, I always come away with mixed feelings. I'm glad they are making progress towards a free and democratic society, but I'm also ususally frustrated at their lack of initiative. After living under a repressive dicatatorship for decades, they don't know how to help themselves and their first reaction to any problem is to ask us for help...usually in the form of a handout.

But then there are the kids. Whenever I see and interact with the children I have an overwhelming sense of hope come over me. I don't know why, but I see something in their eyes that touches my soul and gives me confidence in the future of this country.

During the few hours we were there, they were all I focused on. I interacted with a few and took dozens of pictures of many. They are all overwhelmingly...kids. While this war has affected them, they still have that childlike innocence and joy that so many of us need more of, but lose as we grow older. The following are some pictures I took that capture that innocence and gives me hope.

Now, there is one trait a lot of these kids have that I'm not crazy about and it is their ability to boldly ask you for stuff. They ask for candy, food, water, pens, or anything else they see you have. This little guy pictured below is Hasim. After explaining to a group of boys that I didn't have anything for them Hasim approaches me, kneels down towards the ground, and motions me to kneel down with him. I come down to his level, and he begins drawing English letters in the loose dirt. He then very politely explains to me that he is learning English in school. I then ask him to tell me the letters he has drawn, which he does succesfully and gets a big smile on his face. I immediately took a liking to this smart little whip. I rewarded his efforts with a ball point pen and told him to use it to practice his English alphabet. You would think I gave him $100 as excited as he was. It's amazing how little these kids have. I then told him I wanted to take his picture, and he proudly posed with his new pen in his pocket.


He then motioned for me to give him the camera, and he took a picture of me. Like I said...he is a smart little whip.



The rest of these are just photos of kids I took throughout the day. I'm posting the ones that impressed me the most.







You can't go wrong with Elmo. Every kid loves Elmo.






I love this one. Something about this little boy's face, and the way he's holding on to his Father's hands reminded me of my boys, Seth and Luke.



This kid was all smiles all the time. Hopefully he'll grow into his ears someday. :-)






I call this one Rebel. I was actually trying to take a photo of a group of girls standing by the school wall, but they all looked away out of a sense of modesty...except for her.





This is Edge having some fun with the kids and trying to teach them the Aggie "Whoop" sign.



Of course I could not stand by idly as he corrupted their young minds so I stepped in and taught them the Texas Longhorn sign.


This was a good day.

In fact, I think this was my best day in Iraq yet.

Until next time.

John

27 Comments:

Blogger membrain said...

Great pictures. Thanks for sharing and thanks for serving. Stay as safe as you can.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again John, you are doing your best to make a positive influence over there. The pictures seem to tell a lot more of the story of what life is like in Iraq. It's incouraging to see the positive interaction between you and the children. Hopefully, they will carry that with them throughout their lives. It's good for them to know that some people can be trusted and are sincerely concerned with their lives.
Keep up the good work, I brag about you daily. Keep your focus and stay safe.
Love,
Jeff 'n Marcy

11:19 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I LOVE IT !!!!!!

These children are the new generation. They have been given a new chance. We all need to pray for them that they learn to love and not to hate. They will make a difference in this world.

Love to you my darling,
Amy

11:21 AM  
Anonymous sue said...

you've got me in tears here! i stumbled over here after reading a link on another blog... LOVE your title!!!

from one military family to another... ((hugs)) and prayers!!!

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi John...I'm a first time visitor to your site, and enjoyed it very much. Your latest entry of pictures reaffirmed my belief that peace in the world will begin with the children!

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Theresa said...

You ARE my Baghdaddy!!!

5:00 PM  
Blogger Micah said...

It's nice to hear about the good instead of the bad all the time. Thanks Baghdaddy. Your blog was the ball point pen of my day. Stay safe.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

If taught good,in the love of Jesus Christ, children will become the prosperous great generation of Irak.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Lexie said...

Nothing like a few tears to start the day. Thanks for taking the time to post the pictures and the words. Be blessed.

5:40 AM  
Anonymous The Connector said...

Outstanding pictures. Thank You for r serving. Stay as safe Bro..

6:55 PM  
Blogger Leslie G said...

John,
Monte and I both agree you are an excellent writer! You should write a book when you get home - or have this blog published. I like getting on here and catching up with what you are doing over there. This blog was amazing. The children's pictures were incredible. I can tell they really touched your heart. What wisdom will you be able to impart to your own children after this experience....

You are always in our prayers....

With love,

Leslie & Monte

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The kids are much cuter than you :)

2:31 PM  
Blogger jaibone said...

Once again, you've touched strangers, like you touched me when I stumbled onto this page when you started your journal...

It's funny, during the height of Viet Nam, it was all pictures of soldiers dying. With the internet we all get to see this conflict in a very different way, from the gun toting dogface that lives it.

I know I say this maybe too often, duck and cover Captain Dogface.... the news says car bombs are blowing everywhere...

Jai
US Army 1974-1981

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just shared these pictures with my students and heard lots of oohs and aahs :) They noticed how happy they looked and how beautiful they are. Jenee says "inspite of everything that is going on they really looked happy and proud. If we could only look deep into their hearts I imagine we would see heartache surpressed because of what they have experienced no older than they are" These pictures provoke these highschool students to stop and think outside of their own self-indulged world. That is a good thing for sure. Thanks, for reaching so many in a way only this blog could possibly do. Remember we luv u. Ps91

10:34 AM  
Blogger flythemig29 said...

I'm in Iraq and I also live in Round Rock. My nephew works at Dell but I am a KBR lifer. Keep your chin up dude. You only have a few months to go, I have been here since October 2003 and have about another 18 months to go. That's my choice but it is also my commitment. It's what we do to make sure our kids can grow up ina free and safe society.

Come see my page.

http://thosewackyiraqis.blogspot.com/

6:13 AM  
Anonymous Kdlu said...

Hello - Another stranger here. I'm here by way of another Milblog. Have spent an enjoyable evening exploring your site. You're bookmarked now, so will be checking in daily. You have such wonderful support from friends & family that I hesitate to intrude, but wanted to add some Alabama thoughts and prayers for you and your troops. I appreciate your efforts at this blog and your service & sacrifices. Keep up the good work & stay safe! Kdlu

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Shelly and Jessic said...

Hey John! All week I've come to this post I get a lump in my throat and I don't know what to say...except thanks! You know how much I enjoy the stories involving the kids and this one especially got to me. You're making such a difference. I'm looking forward to your next post!
Love,
Shelly...6 days of school left! :)
PS~ I think I was one of the fortunate ones to catch the awesome poem you wrote and posted. Why did you pull it?

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, you just continue to amaze me with your wisdom, writing ability, feelings, and pictures. I know it's not just because I'm your Mom. I hear comments all the time from people who have read your posts and they are equally amazed. The beautiful smiling children who have been touched by an American soldier who showed them kindness gives me hope. So proud son! Please be safe.

Lots of love and prayers.
Momma

2:20 PM  
Blogger Subsunk said...

Great pictures. Glad to see Texas A&M in Qatar will have some more students in the near future. All you kids, wildcat!?!?!?

(That Aggie "whoop sign" is called wildcatting and the sign they are making is normally made by upperclassmen. fish raise their hands in the air over their heads and say "A" to wildcat.)

Can't resist correcting t-sips. It is a bad habit of mine.

You are doing a great job. Keep up the great work, son. We are all proud of you. I'm glad that Texas is properly represented there and you are part of the good things going on in Iraq and for our country. And you will always be welcome in College Station, TX. Even if you are a t-sip.

Subsunk
Texas A&M Univ. '80

5:57 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Hey,

Great post as usual. One thing (well, several) but one that I thought I would mention.

I make at least one trip a year to Mexico and the kids in the cities are just as bad or worse about wanting anything and everything from the "tourists".

But there is no innocence in their eyes.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Neal said...

It is within God's will though we don't always understand it. Jesus loves the little children; all the little children. Good job, John.

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Dave Foulk said...

What great photos ! You can see so many stories in those eyes. As a father of three grown children, I know how your heart must ache for your wife and family. Thanks for your service.
I am safe because of you and your brother and sister soldiers.
Greetings from the Smoky Mountains.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Maggie45 said...

Wow, awesome photos! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do. G-d bless you.

11:35 AM  
Blogger The Morris Family said...

My brother in law's deployed to Iraq too. His blog is chaplainracer.blogspot.com

Anyway, my husband brought back very similar pictures (but without the "aggie whoop") from his deployment and it just makes our hearts ache when we pull them out from time to time and look at them. You will never ever forget.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Duggan said...

Greetings from Austin - where we are enjoying the mildest and loveliest spring in my short memory here (since 1999). We had over 4,000 at the global day of prayer event and got to see the flags of 160 nations paraded and to pray for each and every nation and its children. We here believe that the testimony of each of our soldiers and workers in Iraq and elsewhere tells our story for all of us. We are so glad that you are telling a friendly, caring story. Keep up the good work, and we will see you when you get back home.

6:45 AM  
Blogger The American Warmonger said...

I'd like your permission to crosspost these images. I run an occasional series called "Images of Hope" and have been want for some good material. This is great material. I'll be posting the first one in a few minutes with a link to the original article. I just wanted your permission before I steal the whole lot of em'.

11:26 AM  
Blogger AtlasShrugs.com said...

So wonderful you are.............amazing shots.
We are here thinking of you, praying for you, thanking you for keeping the free world safe
G-d bless you
Pamela

11:34 AM  

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