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- 'I think about the families, and a life torn apart'
- Brother against brother
- War and Conflict
This wasn't because our area was full of terrorists. This was because people didn't like to see foreign troops trying to control their country. How would Americans or Canadians feel if there were Iraqi troops on your streets, and these Iraqi troops broke down doors and tried to tell you what to do? But because there was resistance, the American soldiers felt they had to fight back, and their fighting made more resistance. It was a very bad time. There was a lot of killing. My little sister still has nervous fits because of all the dead bodies she saw.
Brother against brother - Wikipedia
When Canadian kids — the ones who have always been here and have had a good life — start complaining to me about the little things that bother them, I just think, "You have no idea. If I had the power to make the world better, I would say that we need peace, and to have everyone knowing the culture of everyone else, and having lots of people meet each other and get to know each other, so there will be no fear. An award-winning children's author as well as a political activist for peace, human rights, and social justice, Deborah Ellis has written several books that deal with the impact of war, poverty, and other sociopolitical issues upon peoples' daily lives.
Her fiction and nonfiction candidly portray the lives of children who live in difficult circumstances and, in doing so, Ellis gives children a voice that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to express so readily in the mainstream media. Much of her recent work has focused on documenting the perspectives of children as well as adults who have been casualties of violent conflict and illness.
For example, her nonfiction book, Three Wishes: Similarly, Women of the Afghan War deals with another military conflict, the Afghan War, and includes oral histories from Afghan women who have been caught within it, several of whom who had become refugees and were unable to return home. Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk about AIDS contains courageous, but sobering, stories about children whose lives and families have been affected by AIDS, with some of the children having become orphans as a result.
Ellis's latest work, Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees , echoes the issues of her previous work and deals with Iraqi children who have become refugees as a result of war, a topic that has not been covered significantly by the mainstream media. Even though it has already been five years since the Iraq invasion of , the available literature for children and teens on this topic is still fairly minimal.
The book consists of short autobiographical pieces that are narrated by children who have been victims of the war in Iraq and who range in age from 8 to The children's stories serve to humanize the war by exposing the everyday lives of citizens who must cope with the immediate and long-term effects of that war. These are stories that we do not often hear behind the reported statistics of military and civilian casualties or the mainstream news stories that document the progress of the war from a North American perspective without the inclusion of those who are most affected by it.
Through these children's stories, Ellis's book exposes the complexity of the issues surrounding the war and discourages any simplistic understandings that her readers may have held about the war's origins, its effects upon individuals and communities, and the possible solutions that can be implemented to assist the people affected by it. In a CM interview from , Deborah Ellis comments on how oral history can be an accessible and empowering medium of expression.
As she states, oral history is "an incredibly powerful medium because it gives a voice to ordinary people talking about their experiences in a way that shows that they are not ordinary or unimportant. I don't think there has been a lot of oral history of kids talking about their experiences, and I think that's something I'd like to do a lot of in my life ahead. Each child's narrative begins with the child's name, age, and a photograph of the child.
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The photographs enhance the book's impact as they humanize the stories and visually affirm these children's survival and resilience in the face of extreme adversity. Children of War provides a varied representation of experiences, attitudes, and emotions of children whose lives have been irrevocably changed as a result of the war. Although each child's story is prefaced by some background information about Iraq or the child, the children's narratives remain the central focus. Their narratives depict the short-term and long-term traumatic effects of violence and terror, physically, psychologically, socially, and economically.
The children face many debilitating problems as refugees. Besides fear for their physical safety and well-being, they are affected psychologically. Permanently scarred by the war, many of the children in the book feel that their lives have been changed and cannot be healed, although they acknowledge that they are trying to cope as best as they can. A recurring theme in this collection is the lack of control that the children feel over their circumstances.
The poor health, sanitary, and economic conditions that exist are revealed to be a direct result of the military action and the aftermath of ethnic and sectarian violence that persist in Iraq today.
'I think about the families, and a life torn apart'
Those children whose families are financially better off have managed to cope better than others, although they still talk about the effects of feeling displaced and being unable to travel freely because of the war and their nationality. Some of the children's families have moved to countries close to Iraq, such as Jordan, while others have gone abroad to North America.
Any optimism that these children express, however, is almost always tinged by a sense of pessimism or sobered reflection. Twelve-year-old Abbadar discusses how the war has affected his parents, particularly his father who has become depressed due to the loss of his job. Sara, who is years-old, mentions that things are better for her and her family now that they are living in Jordan, but she still wishes that they were living back home and that her family did not have to be afraid.
In the section about year-old Eman, there is no story. Instead, the only information that we get about Eman is from the introductory material to this section that Ellis has included.
Readers learn that her father has died after a long illness and that her mother suffers from depression and possibly other mental illnesses. Eman does not speak, and her mother thinks her problems have arisen because of the chemicals used in the bombs that have been dropped on Iraq.
The photograph of Eman and her mother, both of whom stare silently outwards, will unsettle readers and will prompt some to question what is being left unheard about the war. The children in this book also talk about their aspirations. Several mention a desire to return to Iraq because they miss their home, life, and friends there, but they recognize that they cannot because of the ongoing violence and instability in Iraq.
Americans are burned out on the war not just politically but aesthetically.
Brother against brother
After a wave of books, articles, news reports, documentaries and blogs, Iraq has become a tired, repetitive story with no happy ending in sight. Because, as it turns out, Martha Raddatz's The Long Road Home is a masterpiece of literary nonfiction that rivals any war-related classic that has preceded it.
The chief White House correspondent for ABC News, Raddatz was in Baghdad when she learned about a platoon of 1st Cavalry Division soldiers who had embarked in April on what they thought would be a routine community-outreach mission they were assisting with sewage disposal, to put it delicately in the massive Shiite slum of Sadr City. Without warning, the once pro-U. The 1st Cav platoon was pinned down by members of the firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Shiite militia, the Mahdi Army -- hundreds of them.
The Long Road Home details the increasingly desperate and unquestionably heroic attempts to save the troops and reclaim order in an impoverished district that's home to some 2. There isn't a hint of political bias in the book, but by focusing on this pivotal firefight, Raddatz illuminates a key moment when Iraq's sectarian strife mutated into the ferocious, unrelenting insurgency it is now. Fraught with life-and-death drama as combat intrinsically is, writing a compelling war story is actually quite difficult.
War and Conflict
The challenge is to capture the kaleidoscopic chaos of battle, keep the reader oriented and humanize the soldiers caught in the maelstrom. Raddatz does all of this impeccably well. The Long Road Home moves at a breathless pace, vividly conveying the suffocating terror of being surrounded in a maze of city streets by an enemy that is seemingly everywhere and nowhere at once. Raddatz doesn't flinch at depicting the carnage of war; the book contains descriptions of violence so graphic they are literally gasp-inducing, but the bloodshed is not gratuitous.
At one harrowing point, Raddatz relates how a young soldier was shot in the head with such force that the round slammed through his Kevlar helmet and ricocheted several times through his skull.