Ayat Syleiman Ali

portrait

In 2003, when I was eight years old, Samarra in Iraq was attacked by American bombers. Bombs fell all around our house. Many exploded, but not all of them. One of my brothers, Jakob, 11 years old, found an unexploded component of a bomb and brought it with him into the house, where my mother was working in the kitchen. My brothers Ishak, 15 years old, and Jassin, three years old, were sleeping in the room next to the kitchen. Jakob thought he had found a really cool toy, but then it exploded. I lost four siblings and a cousin, and I now have burns covering 65% of my body. I was brought to a US field hospital together with Jakob, who was dying. I drifted in and out of consciousness. Jakob’s body disappeared in the American hospital. Why?

An American general visited my father and promised that Jakob’s body would be brought back. Eight days later, the promise had still not been fulfilled. My father then drove to the US military base, 180 kilometres away, in an attempt to get his son back, with no result. During all this, I was in bed in tremendous pain and my whole body was swollen beyond recognition. The Americans promised us free medical care in three different places, but nothing came of it. The person who finally helped me was Sheikh Zihad of the United Arab Emirates.

I want to be like other girls, to be able to play and be with my friends without feeling pain in my face, to be able to write and to walk like everyone else. I also wish we could have my brother Jakob’s body back, so we can bury him along with my other brothers.

It has been a terrible time for me and my family and I really hope that we can receive the help that is necessary. Since the accident, I can’t even open a door. I simply can’t manage without my parents’ help.

I am now studying in Hässleholm, in Sweden. My favourite subjects are Swedish and English. Unfortunately, I have no friends due to my injuries.

I am hoping that the international ban becomes reality because nobody should have to experience what I experience. This is the reason why I am engaged in the process and willing to take part in this campaigning work despite all the difficulties I have encountered. Regarding what kind of support I think cluster munition victims ought to have, I think that one can never get enough support or compensation. First of all, the ban has to become reality, that is the best kind of support that can be given. Because that makes sure the victims will be assured that nobody else will have to live through the same effects as they have.

After the ban, the necessary rehabilitation and support for the victims should be given to them in order to make their life as normal as possible. Moreover, during rehabilitation there should be some form of economic compensation so one can concentrate fully on one’s rehabilitation.

For the future, I wish to look like all other girls my age and to be able to live as normally as possible, otherwise there is no reason to make wishes and plans for the future. My main inspiration is the hope of getting well some day.

As for my own rehabilitation, burns cover 65% of my body. It is worse for girls to have large scars on their bodies comparing to boys, as girls are expected to look good.

I hope I will get the kind of medical help that will make it possible for me to live a normal life like all others my own age.

My dream is to get well again and I hope that specialists in my kind of problems will help me. It is really important that any country that can help me does so, so that my dreams can be fulfilled.

I do not have Swedish citizenship, and that worries me. Because if I must have any help in other countries, I will have to apply for a visa and with an Iraqi passport it is not so easy. I also desire economic help for myself and for my family, since they do not have the financial resources to help me fully. If somebody helps me economically, with the help of my family I would be able to go somewhere to get the medical help needed.
 

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