Presentation gives new perspective

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 30, 2015

How many times a day do you find yourself thinking a negative thought?

How many times a week do you contemplate big life changes, like quitting your job, moving out or ending friendships?

How many breaths do you waste complaining? How many tears do you waste on worthless causes? How many minutes do you spend worrying about the things you can’t control?

I found myself considering many of these questions earlier this week as some young Middle Eastern women explained their own fears, causes of worry and complaints.

And then I realized how trivial my own concerns were by comparison.

As small groups of young women took turns proclaiming the pride they have for their home countries despite the tremendous struggles they face every day to the Niles-Buchanan Rotary Club Monday, I couldn’t help but wonder if my worries are too small to be worries at all.

These truly remarkable women, who were attending the club’s weekly meeting as part of the Study of the U.S. Institute, have dedicated their lives to paving paths for women all over the world.

Though the women participating in the program had plenty of great things to boast about their countries — favorite foods, popular tourist destinations, political growth — the ladies noted that they face struggles, all of which is much bigger than any I’ve faced in my own life.

The final group to present, the Iraqi women, took turns reading lines of a poem.

The poem, “The Children of Iraq,” by David Krieger, brought tears to the eyes of the presenters, as well as many in the audience:

“The children of Iraq have names. They are not the nameless ones.

The children of Iraq have faces. They are not the faceless ones.

The children of Iraq do not wear Saddam’s face. They each have their own face.

The children of Iraq have names. They are not all called Saddam Hussein.

The children of Iraq have hearts. They are not the heartless ones.

The children of Iraq have dreams. They are not the dreamless ones.

The children of Iraq have hearts that pound. They are not meant to be statistics of war.

The children of Iraq have smiles. They are not the sullen ones.

The children of Iraq have twinkling eyes. They are quick and lively with their laughter.

The children of Iraq have hopes. They are not the hopeless ones.

The children of Iraq have fears. They are not the fearless ones.

The children of Iraq have names. Their names are not collateral damage.

What do you call the children of Iraq? Call them Omar, Mohamed, Fahad.

Call them Marwa and Tiba. Call them by their names.

But never call them statistics of war. Never call them collateral damage.”

This certainly helped illustrate the true cost of war, although the women were thankful for the freedoms America gave them.

One presenter referenced an uncle who died during a genocide led by Saddam Hussein, and showed pictures of a lake dried up when the dictator put oil in the water and set fire to the islands amidst the lake in order to kill Iraqis who were in hiding.

I realized through the group’s heartfelt presentation that no matter how trying some challenges may seem, life could be much worse. The optimism showed by these young ladies despite their own seemingly impossible to overcome hardships was truly inspiring.

It seems to me that we have a lot to learn from the children of Iraq.


Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7713, or by email at