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The symbolic toppling of a dictator turned to stone, by US forces, in front of cheering crowds of Iraqi men and women was swiftly followed by the not-so-symbolic and humiliatingly real end to the man himself. A nation’s liberty has since been defined and redefined over the course of 12 years of war and invasion. ‘Freedom is not free’, brayed the liberators, as they funnelled taxpayers’ dollars into a shrinking society. Engendering generations of victims of grief, depression, insanity and physical diseases in exchange for a free market and the removal of one dictator for bands of terrorists and ‘vigilantes’.

Iraqis have been forced to face human depravity of the worst kind and the robbery and destruction of their history. The foundations have been ripped from beneath the weary feet of older generations, and the young struggle for a place not so precarious to rebuild their future. The sound of bombs and gun fire are as normal as the sounds of the souk, smoke and rubble replace Baghdad’s homes and gardens. The Iraqi people gaze ahead, powerless to put an end to the devastation, but in strength they continue their day to day lives refusing to shut down entirely. Over a decade of war has broken families and resulted in millions of orphans who, due damaged infrastructure, are forced to fend for themselves.

It is understood that there are over 3 million orphans in Iraq. A staggering figure of children trying to survive in an already suffocated, struggling society. As the news-anchor reads out the number of dead Iraqis each day, he adds to the estimated number of orphans. Such children are at risk of homelessness and abuse. They may be reduced to begging and are vulnerable to trafficking and gang violence. Diseases, malnutrition and a host of mental issues caused by war, grief and homelessness, contribute to child deaths as a consequence of a devastated healthcare system and social state.

The Iraqi Orphan Foundation was set up in 2003 in order provide support for parentless and displaced children who, if it weren’t for bombs, would otherwise be with their families. The charity has since helped over 8000 orphans with shelter, food, medical treatment and education. Visit the sites below to discover more about their work or if you wish to sponsor an individual who recently ran 21k to raise money for the charity.

Iraqi Orphan Foundation

Yasmin Ahmed’s 21k run

If you are currently raising money for this charity, feel free to add your link to the comments section and I shall endeavour to add it to the list.

Cover image: Baghdad, 2009 by “James”, Flickr

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