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Snips from Marla's Journal... Paradox of Beauty and Tragedy

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Ellipsis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-30-05 09:05 PM
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Snips from Marla's Journal... Paradox of Beauty and Tragedy
Warning: Sad.

Rest in peace Marla, may you not be forgotten.

OCTOBER 28, 2003

Thursday was a day of splendor and bliss.

The magic of Hussein's smile and the dazzle in Bador's eyes

... her burns are so severe that she has developed a skin cancer and is now incapable of moving her fingers

she could only be treated out of country, (Marla With an Italian doctor in Bagdad Marla fanagled) ....the doctor she met with and recommended that she be transported to the special treatment center where he works in Italy


I will be spending Thanksgiving in Iraq, observing the end of Eid in Baghdad with children like Ayat. Ayat's parents, Mohammad Kadhum Manssor and Hamdia Radhi Kadhum, were both killed in an accident involving a U.S. tank. While Ayat and her two sisters survived the incident, Ayat was severely injured: The five year old has a broken back and is still recovering in the hospital.


Gulizar Bamberat Agmerat's husband, Abdulla Amin Ali (44), was killed in the attack when a U.S. tank bombed the mosque he and his two sons were entering for prayer. While their two sons, Ali (8) and Mohammed (6) survived the incident, both children were severely injured: Ali's legs were critically injured and both his back and abdomen were punctured by shrapnel. Mohammed sustained acute injuries to both head and nec

April 9th

l be home soon. Many of you may be concerned about my safety. I got a warning that I need to get out for a little while. So back to home- I will be coming to try to make a home in Washington DC, sort of. Fellow travelers chuckle at my large black suitcase. I tell them it is not my bag it is my apartment.

The last two years from Kabul to Baghdad, my time has been made up of rich experiences and intimate experiences with families harmed as a result of US military actions. Their tragedies are my responsibilities. I am young, and new at this and developing ways to cope, but in honesty I have tried red wine a little too much for medicine, deprived myself of sleep and felt extremely inadequate. My life has been brightened with mentors who have covered wars from Vietnam and Central America with humanity and care. They still cry.

One of my biggest gifts this time has been a friendship I have made with someone in the military. The other day he told me that I was the one to show the compassion because I have the relationship with the families. I will miss my jogs along the Tigris with him, as one crisp February morning with him, for the first time in a year I saw how beautiful Baghdad has the potential to be when the sun rises.

....I can tell you stories of what it is like to shake the gentle plastic hand of Said. His prosthetic is a scar and reminder of the Iran Iraq war, his service there. Sadly in this war he lost more than an arm. In total 43 members of his family, including his wife and all his children were taken from him. ..... I will remember my wife burning. I trying with all I could to put the fire out.

April 28th 2004

I was out of the country during the intense fighting in Fallujah that trapped the country, and foreign kidnapping scare. Friends and colleagues were trapped in their homes. In only a couple of weeks everything changed -- I felt as a new comer to the city in which I have lived for the past year.

My parents and friends inside Iraq told me not to come back. The night before I boarded my plane from vacation to Amman, I was in a panic. What should I do? I don't want to be a liability. If I can't move then there is no point." Depressed, I did not like hearing that my home, where I have a social life and work was a place that I was forbidden to return. I did not want the hard work we put in motion to stall. It was just this time last year that we started our survey to find those hurt in Operation Enduring Freedom. We are still pushing for them, and now with Fallujah, the work will again be demanding. My decision was only to come in for a three days, but I have now been here for two weeks.

June 25

Back in Baghdad and happy. A good friend of mine, advised me to keep my movements minimal in the coming days, saying "Just think of all the work you will be able to do in three months when the situation is better because you were not killed by a bomb."

I saw his little nephew Laith who was shot during a firefight in early May. Faiz pointed to the spot in the garage where he was playing and explained how he ran for cover- only to be shot. Faiz's house is battered, broken widows and bullet holes a result of the fighting between the "resistance" and the US. Laith's mom quit smoking but since her son got shot she is now up to two packs a day. In the hospital, Laith said to Faiz "tell god I am sorry for all my mistakes." He was speaking so dramatically he was loosing a lot of blood. They are such a beautiful family.

A Message From Faiz After the Handover

This is Faiz, I run CIVIC in Iraq. Thank you for your support and concern especially with my nephew Laith. Marla is very lazy, just kidding more busy and knows she needs to write more for the webpage but this week I wanted to tell you about what I did on the day of transition. It is hard when Marla is here in Iraq because I don't have time to think but I will try extra hard for you now.

The day of the handover Marla and I were annoyed because they would not let us over the July 14th Bridge that connects Baghdad with the Green Zone. So I dropped Marla off in her Abaya and watched her jump over the concrete blocks to cross the bridge on foot. I knew she would find a ride. So two minutes later I called her and she was in a car. I was off to Falluja to check on our survey there. It was not a fun trip.

Sept 28th

I share with you some of Faiz's reflections from Baghdad.

Baghdad is now a mysterious city. Everybody is struggling to survive with the horrible situation and the terrifying times that accompany the daily tragidies where innocent civilians are killed. Life is getting more difficult in Iraq and especially in Baghdad, because of bad security. All kinds of public service projects are at a halt.

Residents of Baghdad try to stay inside their homes as much as possible. When people leave to run errands or go to work, they are not sure if they will come back home safe. When they do return, their family says, "Thanks be to God. You are back safe. " They say this because in the time the family member had left a massive explosion most likely took place. These incidents are everywhere. When you drive or walk anywhere in Baghdad, you face the possibility that there will be a suicide attack. Regardless of what the target is, the attacks hurt innocent people. We really don't know what is going on.

Trekking in Nepal
January 10 2005

Marla Ruzika

The story of Nepal is the same as many failed states. The situation reminds me of Iraq- when the US disbanded the army after the fall of Saddam and failed to create jobs- what they have now is an ugly insurgency.

Everyone lives in fear of both the Security Forces and the Maoists. Some say the Maoists control 70%. Although "control" is probably an overstatement. They operate freely on much of the countryside because the government is absent. I have heard stories from those who have been forced to flee their villages because of intimidation. Maoists enter people's homes demanding food and shelter. Then, the government forces trouble the homeowners. The Security Forces have even taken food from poor villagers, claiming it was for the Maoists.

I do not claim to be an expert on Nepal, but in my first week here I have had over 20 meetings with NGOs and survivors in Katmandu and have many ideas on how we can support human rights advocates. Tomorrow I am going to the countryside where the Maoists and Security Forces have been in conflict. The zone is secure and I will be meeting with survivors from both of the brutal forces.

Jit Man's Story

This afternoon I met Jit Man Basnet. At twenty-nine, Jit Man is a magazine publisher, and motorcycle riding journalist. He greeted me with a cheerful Hi Ms. Marla and then told me this story.

..... Jit Man was enjoying tea at a friend's shop near the airport, when three men in civilian clothes grabbed him, tied his wrists together and blindfolded him. He was then taken to an army base. He was told to sit on the cold floor and then they beat and interrogated him.

For 251 days Jit Man's wrists were tied and his eyes covered. He forgot what color the sun was and the sound of the human voice. With the intervention of Amnesty International and other human rights groups he was finally released. Almost a year later his back is still marked from the whippings. Jit Man has trouble walking and suffers memory loss. Every month he has to go back to the base to be questioned by the military. A couple of days ago another journalist disappeared. Jit Man does not want to be taken away again.

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bloom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-30-05 09:12 PM
Response to Original message
1. I was struck by how happy the Iraqis looked
in the photos with Marla.
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Ellipsis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-30-05 09:33 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Theres is no denying there is something about her.
I knew nothing about her before her passing.

...gotta get away from the computer for a while.
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