The captions to the photo essay that accompanies the recent Los Angeles Times piece on childhood in Sadr City are snapshots enough. View Raheem Salman's photos here. Read the story the captions tell here:
• Karrar Raad, 12, works in a muffler shop in Sadr City. His brother
Allawi, who is only 10, works in the adjacent garage. The owner offered
them work, paying about $3 a day, after he saw them scavenging for cans
— a dangerous living in bomb-prone Baghdad. Their father is ill and has
no job, so the two are the breadwinners for a family of 10.
• Ali Kadhim Baidani, right, tries to fix his tractor with the help of an
unidentified friend. With his father unable to work, Ali uses the
tractor to collect garbage for a local contractor, starting at 5 a.m.
each morning until 2 in the afternoon. "The happiest moment for me,” he
said, “is when I receive money from the contractor and give it to my
father to spend on my family."
• Sajjad Hassan Saadi, 12, quit school in the 4th grade to earn a living
selling government rationed flour diverted to the black market. It's
illegal but unremarked upon in Iraq. He can earn $8 to $12 a day, but
on a recent afternoon, he had no money in his pockets. He fears he has
no future unlike other children who go to school.
• An Iraqi boy drinks from a broken pipe in Sadr City. A United Nations
report found that 94% of boys in Iraq attend elementary school, but
that number drops to 44% by high school. For girls, 81% start
elementary school; 31% go on to attend high school.
• An teacher leads a class on the first day of school at Al Rasafi
elementary in Sadr City after the end of the Islamic holy month of
Ramadan and the Eid al Fitr holidays.
• A young boy watches worshipers during Friday prayers in Sadr City.
Children in the poor walled-in Shiite Muslim neighborhood have been
shaped by war and poverty. They are witnesses to sectarian violence,
Shiite militias, angry sermons and troops patrolling.
Recent articles on Electronic Iraq: