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“Once upon a time there was a blind Iraqi child called Rasool”
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“Once upon a time there was a blind Iraqi child called Rasool”

A new charity launching in Australia next month is seeking to provide treatment for children in war-ravaged Iraq so that they may lead happier lives. Aya Najmaldeen, 20, a medical student from Baghdad now living in Sydney, reports.

Once upon a time there was a blind Iraqi child called Rasool.

Wait a minute. This is not how children’s stories begin!

But that’s OK. Because this story comes from a land where kids have lost faith in “happily ever after”.

Where Cinderella had to walk home barefoot, shoeless. These kids don’t believe in fantasy. These kids have heard it all; they know exactly how bitter the truth can sometimes taste.

When you first meet eight-year-old Rasool, you will notice the beautiful tan colour of his skin, his stubborn hair and his long eyelashes. And you will also notice his eyes… eyes that were shut by bullets, fired at his innocence, punishing him for one of the greatest sins a child can commit… playing with a soccer ball.

Rasool suffered from complete blindness in his left eye, and has reduced vision in his right eye. Being the middle child in a family where his father had gone missing four years ago, and his mother is struggling to feed her children, this little boy would laugh at you if you ended your bedtime story with “happily ever after”.

Actually there would be no bedtime story because there is no bed to start with. Rasool spills water on the ground above where he sleeps to escape the heat of Baghdad’s summer nights.

When Rasool was asked if he had ever before been to school, instead of replying with a typical yes or no answer, he smiled and said “I really love schools!”

Even when his dreamy eyes are closed, you can see them sparkling with joy, as if he is daydreaming about his first day at school, his first history and geography lessons, where he will learn about people who have it all: a bed and vision.

And that’s when Assil Russell, a young dentist living in New Zealand, said “I CARE.” Assil started a non-profit medical and dental charity to help kids like Rasool in Iraq. Her first project, ‘Sponsor a smile,’ was the reason why Rasool would be able to see, learn and smile again.

Ahmad Samir (left)

The tremendous achievements of I CARE encouraged a student at the University of Melbourne to expand the charity into Australia. Ahmad Samir, a dentistry student, who has the compassion that only people with flesh can offer.

With Samir’s help, I CARE has been able to recruit many volunteers within the university, as well as volunteers from Sydney and Queensland. In July 2012, the Graduate Centre at the university will be hosting the launch of I CARE Australia.

The organisation is recruiting volunteers from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter what colour your skin is, what land you grew up in or how you roll your tongue when you speak, their only requirements are to be a human…and care!

I CARE Australia is hoping to recruit doctors who want to treat countries, not just individual patients – volunteers who are ready to give children like Rasool back their right to believe in fairy tales.

The right to believe in our fables when we tell them that the world is a happy place, in bedtime stories where Cinderella actually does live happily ever after!

To learn more about I CARE, please visit www.iraqicare.com or email us on iraqicare@yahoo.com

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Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. All articles are published in a spirit of improving dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please click here.

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