Wednesday, January 10, 2007

People Who Mattered In 2006, Amina Sabah Shaab

When a reader introduced Amina to me in an e-mail, I didn't know much about her. Tonight, I was amazed to see her featured in Time magazine's "People who Mattered 2006." The list includes Steven Colbert, Pope Benedict XVI, Pluto among other famous names.

Time's reporter Aparisim Ghosh writes from Baghdad:

Amina Sabah Shaab is only 6, but she has already been orphaned three times this year. When her father Husam was killed in January— he had been kidnapped, tortured for five days, shot, then strangled— one of his brothers took charge of her upbringing. But the unrelenting violence of Iraq's civil war eventually forced him to flee the country, passing Amina on to another brother. In a matter of months, he too had emigrated. Her mother, who had divorced Husam and rarely sees Amina, is planning to leave Iraq with her second husband and their children. Stuck in Baghdad with her last paternal uncle and a sick grandmother, little Amina is running out of options.

The trauma of repeated abandonment has left the child with sad, grownup eyes and only the haziest memories of her father. "He was a nice man," Amina says, deadpan and listless. "He used to bring me sweets."


A reader wants to help Amina. She contacted Time magazine twice and hasn't received a reply back yet. I'd appreciate your suggestions and ideas. I'll forward them to the reader.

It's hard to believe her mother may leave the country without Amina. The mother is most likely pressured by her husband who isn't emotionally connected to his step-daughter. Maybe the mother herself doesn't feel connected to Amina. Either way, Amina is caught in the middle of a difficult situation without an alternative solution. The Democrats and Republicans continue to agree to disagree over the war in Iraq. Instead, they need to look into Amina's eyes before either side decides what's best for its party's 2008 elections.

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