Fading away...


Hala, 65 years old, left Baghdad nearly two years ago.

The Jaysh al Mahdi threatened to burn her and her house down. Hala lived in what is considered a middle class neighborhood. Hala is single, has no kids and both of her parents have passed away.

Hala studied Business Administration and Economics and worked for a government ministry until the age of 55 when she took early retirement to look after her parents who were both sick. Hala lived off her pension and that of her father's.

Meanwhile, she too developed serious health problems one of which is rheumatoid athritis with bouts that debilitate her to the point of near paralysis. At times, she is unable to walk and is chair or bed ridden for weeks on end.

At age 63, after the threats received by the Mahdi Militia, Hala had no choice but to pack a suitcase and head to Amman with all her savings.

There she was granted a yearly residence permit and she lived off her savings until " God relieves this curse "...

A few months ago, the Jordanian authorities refused to renew her residency and she was told she was no longer welcomed to stay in Amman. Her options were either to apply for refugee status with the UNHCR or return back "home" to Baghdad. Of course Hala had lost the family house which was her only refuge.

Needless to say, Hala dutifully filled th UNHCR application forms and queued for days on end to finally be received for an "interview".

They asked her a lot of questions, some of them going back to her grandparents, her parents, their political affiliation, their jobs, their education...
Then, her personal history, her education, her work experience, her diplomas, her political leanings...and they also asked her what her hobbies were.

After several months of waiting and 4 interviews, they finally gave her "clearance" and agreed to grant her a refugee status that will enable her to be "placed" in another "host" country.

At first, they wanted to ship her to Sweden. She begged them not to, in view of her medical condition and cold weather means a slow painful death for her.
Then, they proposed Australia. Again, she begged them not to send her there. She knows absolutely no one in Australia. And she will be too far away from some of her distant relatives who also took refuge in Amman.

About a week ago, they informed her that she is to leave Amman in a fortnight to some place in the north west of the U.S. Again she pleaded with them, telling them that she knew absolutely no one in the U.S.

This time around, they told her categorically that she had run out of options and she had no choice but to accept or be forcibly deported back to the Iraqi border.

Not only that, but they also made her sign a paper by which she promised to find a job in the U.S within 3 months of her arrival. The reason for that clause was to ensure that Hala pays back to the UNCHR the costs of her transportation, air ticket and temporary lodging in America.

She cried out: " Who will employ me at age 65 and with my medical condition ?!"
To which they matter of factly replied : " In your application form you mentioned that one of your hobbies was hairdressing and the second is flower arrangement."
" But I have deformed joints, I can't stand up in a hairdressing salon all day ", she said.
" Then become a florist since you like flowers " was their reply.

The other conditional clause stipulates that she does not return to Jordan within 3 years. To which she replied : " I will probably be dead by then and will not find anyone to bury my corpse in Baghdad."

Hala will be leaving in a few weeks. She has 2'500 dollars to live on for 3 months until she finds a job as a florist in Northwest America. Then she is to PAY BACK to the UNHCR the price for being "saved".

They asked her to look at it positively. They said : "Look at this way, at 65, you will be starting a brand new life."

Hala had no choice but to agree. So she will be leaving Amman soon heading towards the unknown, not knowing anyone, and with deformed joints, seeking a job at age 65 as a florist.

Hala tries to console herself and says : " At least am better off than the rest. At least am not going to be sent back to hell."

Americans believed that they will be welcomed with flowers at the gates of Baghdad.
Iraqis are now forced to go and sell flowers to Americans.
There is a big lesson there for those who care to ponder...

Painting : Iraqi female artist, Hayat Jamil Hafidh.

Comments

Anonymous said…
The question she ought to ask is, "who is dragging this corpse of mine around"?
Anonymous said…
Oh my god. How low can we stoop.

That poor woman, who has been through hell and now has to face more hell in the body of the beast.

The cruelty shown by "the invaders" just goes on and on and gets worse all the time.

Sometimes we who care are so very ashamed. Yet we must maintain our rage against what these bastards are doing in our name, or fade away into the nothingness that is all around us.

A few blogs back you mentioned you'd love to go to Cuba. Layla, I have wanted to for a long time, and almost got the chance. My son bought me one of those guides to Cuba or any other country you wanted to go to.

Like you, I have "serious doubts" about Castro being a madman and a dictator. I'm sick of hearing about people we're supposed to hate, especially when Americans can't even go there, heavy sanctions are in place, and goodness me! They're doing okay!

I want to go there and be able to say that to people. I've been told by another "carer" who has travelled the world that it is safe, and a happy place to be.

I think your friend would be better off being sent there!

However, I think she will be proved right. She will die in America of a broken heart. There will be no meaning to her life anymore.

The bastards!
Anonymous said…
Good morning laila..
I am an Iraqi who tries to extend help to all.. Through my contacts..

The worst i could say, is sorry i cannot help, try so & so...

So... How can I help the 65 yr old lady who is about to go to the US.. I have about 200 people their on my mailing list.. One of them may be able to help..

Besides...
I love Art & Flowers...

So does the woman have an e-mail address to contact?

I will ask people to send you messages to pass on to her..

Contact me on ayad.abbas@gmail.com...

Keep up the good work..
The word is stronger than the sword...

Regards

Ayad
Anonymous said…
Dearest Layla, thank you for this blog and for information which has not reached/been avoided by other sources. In the earlier section of your blog, I wondered why they wanted to know about Hala's hobbies...

This is truly awful, particularly for a woman of this age and suffering from a debilitating disease. The filthy US is the last place she should be sent to.

Yes, if they couldn't get the flowers thrown at them voluntarily by Iraqis, this is another option they have found - I'm so tempted to swear, but don't wish to desecrate your blog.

In solidarity
Anonymous said…
Is "Hala" the same Saddamist slut who was posting comments on here some time ago ?
Anonymous said…
Why did she not choose Australia? At least the weather there is not as brutal as in the American North West. It would have been much better for her arthritis - not to mention Australia has free health care...
Layla Anwar said…
Iraqi jew,

I suppose because she felt Australia would be too far away from some of her relatives.
Angel said…
Hi Layla,

Another sad story, in amongst the others. Hala must be quite frightened, at the "adventure" proposed for her. If it was me, I would be terrified.

I am pondering, and it is painful.

Iraqi Jew, healthcare in Aus is not free. Everything is paid for, in one way or the other.
Anonymous said…
She chose the worst possible place to go. The north-west is cold and perpetually rainy and there is no free health care.

As for work, you'll find old _white_ women mopping the floors at McDonalds in USA and Canada. They're not being cruel, working past 65 is commonplace here.

If I were her, I'd kill myself right away.
Anonymous said…
*satire*
extreme terrorism warning

http://investigate911.se/hide_the_salami.html
Anonymous said…
rap by an iraqi-american

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRiy4yfh-IM
Anonymous said…
The Iraqi Resistance ought to get a move on or there will be no more Iraqis left to enjoy the restored liberty.
Anonymous said…
Why did she not choose Australia?
The West will NEVER understand what "family" and "culture," means to her. Certainly not on the level that traditional societies do. Day-care centers and Nursing Homes are essential fixtures in the West's psyche. Nursing Homes are "the dying place." If you are not dying when you enter, you will be upon entry.

To Ayad:
"The word is stronger than the sword..."
Or, "The pen is mightier than the sword."
Recall Archimedes. The sword knows not Geometry.
Mao DeDong: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."
The "word" (or pen) is meaningless when reading has been devastated by a "controlled demolition."
Students are in morbid fear of word -problems in Math BECAUSE they cannot read.

To Daphne:
Japan is a "success" story. They learnt the motor industry from the US and are currently outselling GM.
US jobs moved, first to Japan and then elsewhere.
South Korea is "our" ally and another "success."
They had "our" electronics manufacturing capacity (now in China.)
All of "our" allies have stuck it to "us", or have they? Recall Bush's expression, "outsourcing jobs is good for the economy."
Cuba, North Korea, Russia, The axis of Evil etc., made our military-waste "meaningful," and fabulously enriched the military-industrial complex. Useful enemies? Americans are being SCREWED by their Govt. and they are totally oblivious to this fact.
The classic case of "a drowning person will cling to a straw."
AlurduniAlurr said…
No words or adjectives i could use that can alleviate the suffering of my Iraqi brothers and sister,if it's up to me ,I would allow all Iraqis to live and work in Jordan.
Iam really ashamed what the Jordan is doing to Iraqis.
I'm pretty sure Australia is closer to Iraq than Oregon. Can she change her mind? Seriously. America is a pretty place, but it sucks to live here. I feel really bad if she is stuck coming here. I suffer from a form severe arthritis as well, and without insurance my medication would cost me $1500 a month. Thats just for 2 shots a week. In Australia, it would be free. Make her change her mind. Please.
Anonymous said…
What if "Layla Anwar" was none else but As'ad Abu Khalil in drag ?
Layla Anwar said…
food for thought,

What are you trying to do? Give me a heart attack ? How can you possibly liken me to this narcissistic, sectarian, fake, idiot Abu Khalil?
Layla Anwar said…
Compulsive Reader,

I'm afraid its too late. She can do nothing at this stage. It's the U.N agency that decides. Damn it, so many sad cases around...
Anonymous said…
Actually, Layla, I was trying to make you SMILE :-)

But one thing is true: Abu Khalil IS a drag-queen who likes to cross-dress as a rich blonde bejewelled WASP lady and intellectually masturbate before his own reflection in a mirror.

Speaking of sectarians, don't you think that Ahmadinejad looks so much like Norman Bates of Hitchcock's "Psycho" but with a beard ?
Layla Anwar said…
food for thought,

Now that really made me laugh- LOOOL
Anonymous said…
I love it when you "LOL", Layla. Really, you ought to be doing it all the time. In the teeth of everything and everyone.

After all the Grim Reaper is only a poor delusional sad ass to be laughed at and somehow pitied, not feared, by those whose spirits have been forged by Iraq's eternal flame ...

Keep fighting.
Anonymous said…
Couple questions:

You mentioned she had a pension, besides her savings. That should help her at least somewhat.

In America, you are not forced to work, especially if you are crippled with arthritis and 65 or older.

Upon arriving in America, the first thing she should do is seek out the nearest mosque or church - in America, churches not only can help with peoples needs, but also with finding other help.

Your friend can get help with food and heating because of her age and her medical condition.

She can rent a room, as opposed to an entire apartment or house, which would be less expensive and keep her from having to do lots of housework.

There ARE ways for people with disabilities to make it in the US, and having a pension will help also.

I'm not saying it won't be difficult, but there's help out there - from the churches, from the local and fed gov't, and I would think from the Muslim community in her area.

I understand that she doesn't have family, but she obviously has friends. If she can come back to Iraq, is there a reason she couldn't rent a room from one of her friends?

I would think that would be the ultimate solution - she'll be near people she knows, and her savings will go much farther renting a room from someone she knows than an apartment in Washington state.
Layla Anwar said…
anonymous,

Thanks for the tips. Hala is gone. We said our final goodbyes. it was very painful. I just pray that she will be ok. I will pass on the info.
Anonymous said…
Big mistake not to go to Sweden. They'd cure her for free, wouldn't allow her to work and help her thanks to the best welfare in the world.

In US you're a slave, forced to work or die, and must pay for every single medecine you get. It's a slave society and you're left alone without any pity.

Hope for the better, but she made a mistake.
Tarek CHAMKHI said…
Good on you sister Layla. Keep up good contribution.
Tarek, Western Australia

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