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Yousiff's Journey Continues

art.youssif.split.jpgAbout a month ago I wrote a short post on the plight of young Yousiff, the five-year old Iraqi child who was disfigured when masked men grabbed him outside of his home in central Baghdad, doused him with gasoline, and set him on fire.

"They dumped gasoline, burned me, and ran," Youssif told CNN, pointing down the street with his scarred hands where his attackers fled.

As he sucked his thumb, he repeated, "I was burning." He tried to put the flames out himself.

Yousiff's story touched a lot of hearts, and America responded with individual donations of support to help bring Yousiff to the United States for treatment. In addition, surgery was arranged at no charge to Yousiff's family.

The Children's Burn Foundation -- a non-profit organization based out of Sherman Oaks, California, that provides support for burn victims locally, nationally and internationally -- has agreed to pay for the transportation for Youssif and his family to come to the United States and to set up a fund so you can donate.

The foundation says it will cover all medical costs -- from surgeries for Youssif to housing costs to any social rehabilitation that might be needed for him. Surgeries will be performed by Dr. Peter Grossman, a plastic surgeon with the affiliated-Grossman Burn Center who is donating his services for Youssif's cause.

Yesterday Yousiff arrived in the United States.

yousiff2

For a family whose lives were tortured by the random and brutal violence of Iraq, the sheer magnitude of stepping onto American soil was surreal. His parents were rendered speechless. Quite simply they grinned from ear to ear. They didn't need to speak. The joy on their faces was palpable.

They had traveled more than 7,500 miles to get help for their son, from war-torn central Baghdad to coastal Los Angeles. It marked the first time the family had ever left their homeland, let alone flown on a plane.

"Oh my God, it's so green. Am I in heaven?" Youssif's mother, Zainab, said after arriving in Chicago before the family flew on to Los Angeles where Youssif will be treated.

"I feel like I'm in a dream," said his father, whom CNN has agreed not to name. "Someone needs to pinch me."

The family left Amman, Jordan, early Tuesday en route to the United States. The night before they departed, Youssif didn't sleep a wink. He woke the family up extra early, shouting, "Let's go! Let's go!"

The road through surgery and recovery is a long one for young Yousiff, but with that kind of spirit you know it's a journey he'll make successfully. I'll watch for further updates from CNN and post them when available.


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Comments (12)

Steve Crickmore:

In the brutality and suffering of the war, we sometimes overlook there is a indivudual for each victim. When asked on US television if she thought that the death of half a million Iraqi children was a price worth paying, (for UN sanctions on Iraq) Albright replied: "This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it"..There must a better way than war or heavy sanctions for making political points, by our politicians.

Lee Ward:

Albright responds (I'm not defending her statement, just making conversation):

Albright has just published her memoirs, Madam Secretary, in which she clarifies her statement. Here's what she writes:

I must have been crazy; I should have answered the question by reframing it and pointing out the inherent flaws in the premise behind it. Saddam Hussein could have prevented any child from suffering simply by meeting his obligations.... As soon as I had spoken, I wished for the power to freeze time and take back those words. My reply had been a terrible mistake, hasty, clumsy and wrong. Nothing matters more than the lives of innocent people. I had fallen into the trap and said something I simply did not mean. That was no one's fault but my own. (p. 275)

Steve Crickmore:

Anyway it speaks well of her that she has apologized so well. I wasn't aware of her apology...I was anticipating the usual Republican talking point rebuttal about the human costs of the UN zanctions vs the war. When I was England, there was a case of another sisfigured Iraqi child which caught the attention and outpuring of Britain. She was subsequently sent there for a series of operations..I will try and link to the case later when I retrieve my glasses.

Lee Ward:

Albright was Bill Clinton's Sec. of State for the last three years of his term in office. She's a staunch critic of the Bush administration, so hardly a Republican.

Steve Crickmore:

I'm certainly not making their argument, but Republican supporters of the war try to justify the war by saying that the collateral deaths of the war are less than the suffering caused by sanctions, imposed by the UN, or the situation may be chaotic and miserable now but under Saddam it was much worse. It seem be as specious argument and the suffering is incredibly probably much worse now than anything that occurred during Saddam's reign.

Steve Crickmore:

Off topic, BUT While we are ON the subject, Albright's remark about the UN sanctions was unfortunate, but I think the whole policy was pretty disastrous as we have discovered with enormous kickbacks to Saddam and his family personally from everyone from international oil companies to even UN General Secretary Kofi Annan's son, but few kickbacks to the Iraqi people ..I like Obama's change in direction of lifting the sanctions policy for Cuba. Albright as Secretary of State in 1999 was moving in that direction, when she weakened the sanctions policy. Hillary doesn't seem to be following suit, even with Albright advising her..yet.

Lee Ward:

"It seem be as specious argument and the suffering is incredibly probably much worse now than anything that occurred during Saddam's reign."

Saddam ruled with an iron fist. Now we see why. Iraq's unique mix of religious sects created a powder keg situation that required a tight lid.

The Bush administration removed that lid, then stood back and let the Iraq explode.

The administration knew this kind of civil upheaval would follow the toppling of Saddam's government -- Cheney stated exactly that back in 1994 when asked why Saddam was taken out in the Gulf War.

The Republicans may well have believed that the collateral damage that would result would be minimal. They were dead wrong, as usual. We have Vietnam redux instead.

Republicans have proven they are incapable of running this country. We have to change that in 2008.

And I agree re: Obama and Cuba, Steve. Obama shows exactly the kind of forward, new-direction thinking we need in the White House.

Suzan:

Do you know what's going to happen to Yousiff and his family after the treatments are completed? Are they going to be able to stay in the US or will they have to go back? Has anyone thought of the risk they will take by going back?

Lee Ward:

I haven't seen any mention of that in the reports I've read, Suzan. You raise an interesting question.

Suzan:

I think about this little boy everyday and am so scared for what's going to happen once all the charity runs out. I've contacted CNN, but of course received the "automated response." Any suggestions on how we can find out what the plan is after the surgeries and treatments are over? My plan to is email CNN everyday if I don't get a response. Suggestions?

Lee Ward:

I'd suggest contacting the public relations office at the Children's Burn Foundation.

If you find out anything more please come back and give us an update, Suzan.

Debbie Neveux:

I have been following the stories about Yousiff and his family. They all state that the last name of the family members are not being published for fear of their safety. Come on. These terrorists who dumped gasoline on Yousiff know who they are and with this story being published everywhere they obviously know they have sought help from the United States and common sense should tell us that they will be looking for them when they return. I am sure their return will be published too! I believe the help the United States is providing to this family must go beyond the surgeries for Yousiff, but provide life-time safety on American soil.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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