Review: American Baghdad

About three months ago, I was visiting a friend in New York City and he told me that he recently watched a short documentary entitled American Baghdad. (I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this short film to gain a better understanding of people who may come from a different place than you.) Time passed and I completely forgot to look into watching it, until today.

From my experiences and interactions with others, I found this documentary to be an accurate depiction of Iraq and its people. Highlighted in this short video are primarily two generations – the older, and the younger. The older generation appreciates their opportunity to safely live in America, while they lovingly long to be back in their motherland. They know it is unsafe to move back home, but yet they still miss the pieces of their lives that were there. Often when we speak of refugees (or also, people who were granted asylum somewhere), I do not think we recognize that they can value being in a safer geographic location, while still having a heart that desires to be home. These individuals leave their country because they are forced to leave. It is unsafe for them to remain living there. That does not have to equate to where they want to be. Those can honestly be two different things and that is okay. Who would want to be uprooted from your home…your family…your professional career…your friends…your memories? American Baghdad displays the genuine sense of security and gratefulness for a new country, while still having a heart that longs for home.

At the same time, the younger generation is having a slightly different experience. Like their elders, they value living in a new country. This younger generation also sees their life as being firmly established here. They more quickly adjust to life in a new culture, with a new language, new types of food, new people and everything else that comes with this huge life transition. The youth then begin to build memories in their new country and they have not yet begun their professional careers, so the future is wide and completely new for them as they go throughout childhood. I believe that makes things easier for this generation as they begin to build their new lives in their new country.

Those differences being identified, there was much in this film that I have repeatedly heard from the individuals whom I have met over the years. The fact that many subgroups were part of the Iraqi culture. The fact that religions lived alongside one another peacefully. The fact that life may have been hard over the years in that specific region, but they fully loved their country (This touches me personally because I feel like in my lifetime, I have only seen that deep love for one’s country right after 9/11 and after a few months, it seemed to disappear again. I long to see that passion in today’s youth within my country.). The fact that people were thriving, even with hardships. The fact that people were friendly, warm and inviting. The fact that humanity could bloom, even when under the rule of a harsh dictator.

And then, it was all taken away.

Ahmeli… that we would lovingly have honest and open dialogue with those who are different from “us” as we strive to become a more united and humbled country.

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via Daily Prompt: Lovingly

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Failure.

via Daily Prompt: Gone

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Failure.
Such a scary word
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Failure.
Unable to gain peace with a tragic day
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Failure.
Constantly hearing the negative when you try so hard
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Failure.
Not achieving the goal you set
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Failure.
The weight adds up
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Failure.
The anger boils and boils
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Failure.
Not measuring up to images seen on TV
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Failure.
Making the same mistake, again and again and again
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Failure.
Seeing your reflection in them
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Failure.
Leaving behind the dreams you once had
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Failure.
Scared to take that next step
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Failure.
Never feeling good enough
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Failure.
When happiness is gone

You Carry the Future

*Recently, I have been observing the trends I see between the youth from the various cultures I interact with compared to the youth of my community. As is true everywhere, there are exceptions and outliers. I understand that. This piece is reflective of what I have personally experienced, or witnessed, with youth whom I have interacted with over the years within the same city and same economic level, but from different cultures as based by country of origin. The purpose of this reflection is to provide a platform for us to evaluate what is happening and to improve mentoring among the youth. *

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You Carry the Future

Offering to carry a young woman’s infant as she walks beside you.

Walking through a door without holding it open for the woman carrying a baby.

A brother braiding his little sister’s hair.

Siblings sitting in the same room; communication only by text.

No power needed to play a game of soccer.

Emotions run wild when a power outage eliminates playing video games.

Cooking a variety of dishes as taught by Hooyo.

Bag of chips and soda from the corner store.

20, living at home, working fulltime, supporting the family.

20, living at home, chillin’ on social media, “figuring out” life.

Silence in the classroom. Homework completed. Education valued.

Timeout #27 today. Homework? Education ignored.

Walking down a street. Greeting all those you pass.

Music pumping in ears. The “what you looking at?!?” glance given.

Guest enters the room and bodies raise, all giving greetings.

While being fixated on a cell phone, the guest enters, unnoticed.

Advice is sought as stories are shared.

Stories are silenced, for advice is unwanted.

We can share lessons learned,

if you are open to guidance.

We will help in ways we can,

for you carry the future.

 

Ahmeli… that generations across the spectrum unite for the common goal of improving society.

If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!

Carry

Drive…Drive Far Away

Looking around the world

wondering what’ll happen next.

Reading the news, watching the clips, seeing the images…

wondering, “When will it end?”

I just want to drive … drive far away.

 

Attacks during 2016 in

France,

America,

Turkey,

Mali,

Tunisia,

Indonesia,

Iraq,

Burkina Faso,

Yemen,

Kurdistan,

Bangladesh,

Kazakhstan….

the list goes on and on.

I want to drive… drive far away.

 

Societies are crashing.

Governments are failing.

Money is controlling.

Education is depleting.

I want to drive… drive far away.

 

Hatred is flourishing.

Love is missing.

Honor is deceiving.

Kinship is dividing.

I want to drive… drive far away.

 

Is it the rise of a terror group?

The capabilities of social media?

A path away from God?

Or nothing new at all?

I want to drive… drive far away.

 

The pain, agony, hardship, murders, anger, hatred, frustration, shouting, blasting, greed.

I want to drive… drive far away.

 

But then I stand here…because driving away will not change the mindset of a country, a nation, a culture, a religion, an ethnic group, a disturbed mind, a government, a neighbor, a family.

 

No; driving away will only separate the temporary from the reality. I know this. I see this. I feel this. I acknowledge this.

 

Yet still… I want to drive… drive far away.

 

Ahmeli… that instead of driving away, we come together as a society and work towards bettering our world.

If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!

Drive

I Married “Mr. Right.” She Married “Mr. Who?”

Several years ago, I would’ve gone on a rant about my view on arranged marriages.

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Part of a traditional American wedding.

They are “very old-fashioned,” “controlling” and “force the women to be submissive and without a voice.” I was grateful to be living in America where that “doesn’t happen.” Here women “are valued and have a choice in who they marry.” For the life of me, I could not imagine why families would do this to their daughters. I saw news reports about teenaged daughters being married off to older companion with tears in their eyes and stern expressions on their parents’ faces. Clearly, I determined, that is not the way marriage is supposed to be. We are not supposed to be forced into marrying someone whom we do not know. Adults should choose who they marry, not their family members. We marry people because we love them, not to collect a dowry. Women date men to find their “Mr. Right.” Their divorce rates are so low because women have no say and they are forced to remain in the marriage or they will be beaten, or worse, killed. My list could go on and on. I knew, without a doubt, that arranged marriages were wrong and downright mean.

 

And then I met my husband.  Continue reading

The Devoted Doctor

Have you ever experienced seeing someone – perhaps on the sidewalk, at a restaurant, or in a grocery store – and your mind began to develop a story about that person. Where did he come from? What makes her happy? When did they move into this neighborhood? What career is she in? How did he get that scar? So many questions race through my mind as I try to imagine the history behind the face. This was the reaction that was evoked inside of me when a met a gentleman whom I’ll refer to as the Devoted Doctor. It was through a friend that I was introduced to this older gentleman in his 70s. Due to the introduction, my attention was naturally placed on this guest, and yet there was an additional curiosity that was sparked from the moment I shook his hand.

In front of me was this older, fragile man. He struggled to move, as he was physically assisted by a family member. It looked as if life had taken a toll on his body. His hair had begun to turn shades of gray and the wrinkles across his hands reminded me of a person who exhibits good work ethic. His body trembled which made me think of a busy worker who was eventually slowed down by life. And then I looked into his eyes. There I saw devotion, warmth and intelligence. We shared a cup of chai, dates and nuts as the conversation took a common road. By the end of the meeting, I was full of questions and wonder.

Throughout the years, I began to piece together this man’s story – though I am sure it is only a fraction of what could be discovered. This gentleman had spent his entire career as a doctor – a deeply devoted doctor. Here are some excerpts from his life that created this Lasting Legacy: The Devoted Doctor.

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The Devoted Doctor was born in Iraq and graduated from a small rural area called Al Nassirya. In the 1950’s, he was selected as part of a prestigious group to participate in his medical studies in Germany. After moving to this new country, the Devoted Doctor managed to learn both the German and Latin languages in only a few months and then completed his medical schooling and surgery residency. (Clearly this man possesses strong intellectual abilities to be able to master another language at such a quick pace.) After 15 years, the Devoted Doctor made the decision to move back to his native country and continue to serve others through providing medical services.

Upon arriving back in Iraq, the Devoted Doctor lived in the Basrah area where he was a surgical doctor and was soon appointed Head of the Health District in southern Iraq. Professionals in the medical field sensed the doctor’s talents and he was selected to perform more and more delicate surgeries. By this time, the Iran-Iraq War had begun and mass causalities were becoming far too common. Soldiers from both Iraq and Iran were being brought into the hospitals with life threatening injuries. (His ability to work during such a highly stressful time in history proves his strong work ethic and dedication to helping patients.) Although it was quite taboo, the Devoted Doctor put his commitment to treating patients before political affiliations as he cared for soldiers from both sides of the war. It was during this war that the Devoted Doctor faced a significant medical challenge. A soldier was brought to the hospital with a rocket propelled grenade in his abdomen. The rocket had not exploded, which created great fear among the hospital staff. They restricted the patient to a far side of the hospital as staff members fled the location out of fear that he would soon blow up. The Devoted Doctor examined the man, and discussed the possibilities with someone in the military who stated that the rocket would probably not ignite at this point. After hearing that, the doctor decided to take the risk and lead a surgical team to remove the rocket from the man’s abdomen. Years later, while walking through a local market, a gentleman saluted the doctor. Upon questioning why the man was doing this unnecessary gesture, the Devoted Doctor learned that it was the soldier whose life he saved that day when he removed the rocket. (He was so passionate about helping others that he was willing to risk his life to save the life of a patient.)

The war continued until 1988. During that time, the Devoted Doctor began to lead medical advancements in the area of bone lengthening. His success in this area lead to requests from other countries for him to travel and mentor other doctors in successfully completing this surgery. Instead, he chose to remain in Iraq, where he led teams through completing thousands of successful surgeries. It was also during this time that this mountain-mover decided to open his own clinic. It was here that he was the only doctor, treating many patients and often providing his services for free. (Unlike the US, Iraq did not have insurance companies who collected medical payments. This permitted doctors to have the flexibility and ability to provide services at different rates, or even for free.) The Devoted Doctor was known for treating friends, relatives, and the poor, at low cost, if anything at all. He chose serving others over financial advancements. (The kindness of his soul echoes from these loving acts to best serve his patients both medically and financially.) In addition to the obstacles brought about from war causalities, the Devoted Doctor experienced his own personal challenge during these years. One day he was struck by a vehicle as he crossed the road. This lead to multiple injuries, including many broken bones. Nevertheless, he was determined to get past being a patient in the hospital – where he recovered for several weeks – and return to being a doctor from the hospital. With a strong mindset, this soon became his reality. Though the mass casualties decreased after the end of the war, the hospitals were still dealing with the catastrophic events that occurred during the war. There were still patients to treat and surgeries to perform.

The Gulf War began only two years after the Iran-Iraq War. Though it lasted fewer years than the one prior, there were still, unfortunately, mass causalities. A newspaper once reported about the doctor’s ability to lead his team as they completed 52 surgeries by candlelight due to the harsh conditions of the warzone. This was a doctor who would not allow electrical outages to control his willingness to treat patients. The wars were highly challenging times that presented new barriers every day, and yet this gentleman refused to let these circumstances dictate the quality of care that he provided to others.

As the years continued, the Devoted Doctor found himself working 9-10 hour days for six days a week. He did not count the hours of work in the clinic, instead he viewed it as opportunities to help others. Yet during this same time, he was building memories with his family as he served as a strong role model for his children. You could find this father running with his son near Tuesday Market and explaining to his boy that we should accept our share in life and enjoy the life we are blessed with. He was a father that taught another son how to swim, while also modeling that one should be understanding (Understanding) of others, even when they make mistakes. While spending time with his daughter in the old cultural market, he told her stories from his past, such as the time when he saw the King of Iraq and the value of doing charitable acts because life should not be all about money. He was a Baba who would take the time to read bedtime stories, as his son rested his head upon his father’s arm. This gentleman encouraged his wife to continue her dream of becoming a school teacher as she modeled for her children the value of reaching one’s goals.

However, in 2004, things took a turn. Continue reading