A Diary of Two Iraqi
The following diary passages were given to the
Foundation by Ramzi Kysia, a member of the Iraq Peace Team (IPT)
an initiative of Voices in the Wilderness. According to Kysia,
the passages are from the diary of Amira, a 14-year-old Iraqi
girl, and her 9-year-old sister, Layla. The girls wrote these
entries during the last 2 months of 2002, and gave them to IPT
to be translated and published in the US. For more information
on the Iraqi Peace Team click
My name is Amira and I didn't go to school because of the financial
circumstances. I left school at the age of 8 years old. I was
in the third grade. No one in our family completed school. Not
my father, mother or brothers. I have 2 brothers, 2 sisters and
my parents. Father is an old, sick man and he and my mother don't
work. I, Amira, is the only one who works.
I wake up at 7am and go to the bathroom, wash my
face with soap and water, then eat bread and tea for breakfast,
and go to work. I say, "with God's blessing," and go
to the market and buy 30 packs of chewing gum and go to work in
Karrada Street, and work until 3 or 4pm. Then I go home, enter
the bathroom for a bath, wash my clothes, and read with my younger
A man told me to go to school and study. I get
ashamed a lot, and said, "please, Allah, remove the sanctions
from the Iraqi people." And I am in pain because I didn't
attend school. I see girls go to school and regret that I cannot,
because it is a treasure, and man's future.
My name is Layla. I am nine years old. I am a student in the third
grade elementary school. I wake up at 7am, wash my face with water,
then go to the market to get breakfast which is egg and bread.
After breakfast, I wear the school uniform and go to school by
8am. My school is far away. It's 15 minutes. I go to home by 12pm,
then enter my home and my mother would be preparing lunch which
is a potato sandwich. Then I go to sleep and wake up in the afternoon
to write my homework, and stay awake until 9pm. I don't watch
TV because ours is broken and we can't buy one. Every day I go
to the neighbors to watch TV, and then stay with my sister at
home. My mother says that she'll work to buy us a TV and so my
sister Amira doesn't have to work. I will work to save money and
buy a TV.
My name is Amira and on Tuesday I wake up at 7am. My mother said
that she'll go and buy breakfast, then I would wash my face with
water and soap and change my clothes and wear work clothes. Then
my mother came with eggs, bread and tea, and I said to myself
that I would like to sit at home, but our finances would not help.
Then my mother said, "take care, Amira." I said, "don't
worry, I know," and she said, "go, Amira, Allah be with
you my dear daughter." Then I left home at 8am and went to
the market to get chewing gum to sell in the street. I made 3000
dinar [$1.50 US] and gave it to my mother.
By 12 noon I eat a cheese sandwich, and at 3pm
I went to the market to buy bread and paid 500 dinar [25 cents]
for some dates, grapes and cheese. I went home and all my family
was awaiting me. My younger brothers were waiting at the door.
When they saw me they ran towards me and took the bag and ate.
After eating we stayed until 9pm and then went to sleep. I went
to bed, but my mother said, "let me heat the water for you
to wash." I bathed and went to bed by 10pm. I was very tired
and sleep until 3am to open the water and help my mother until
4am, then go to sleep again.
Sometimes I don't go to work because I am sick. It's a nasal disease,
and I have a headache. Once I went to work and a man said to me,
"Why are you like that -you are a little girl. Go to school."
I was very sick. I went to the park, sat there and had a gloomy
mood. I said if there were no sanctions I would have attended
Sanctions has affected us like that, effected the
Iraqi people. Sometimes there children, women and men sleeping
in the street. They are poor and feel bad and say, "Allah,
remove these sanctions."
I wake up at 6am, and my mother would say, "are
you going to work?," and I say, "yes." My sister,
Layla, said, "will you be back at 4pm?," and I said,
"I don't know. God knows." When I would leave the house,
mother would look at me with a tear in her eyes and say, "until
when my Amira will be like this?" And I would smile and say,
"Don't be sad, God is merciful." Then she would say,
"God be with you my daughter," and I would leave the
I am 14 years old and work in the streets. I love
to go to school and sometimes I am ashamed of myself. My friends
say, "Amira, where do you go?" I say, "to work."
Yasmeen, my friend, says, "why do you go to work?" I
say, "Who'll support my family?" Deep in my heart I
wish I didn't have to go to work in the street. I go home in the
evening very tired. I have rice and soup for dinner, and go to
bed. I send this letter to the dearest people in America, who
are against the sanctions and the Zionists. I hope from Allah
to give you good health and all that you hope for.
I wake up at 7 in the morning and go to the bathroom to wash my
face with water and soap. Then my mother prepares breakfast which
is yogurt, bread and tea. I go to school at 8am. I study at school
then I go home. My mother prepares lunch, so I would eat and change
my clothes and go to the bath. Then I sleep in the afternoon.
Then I write my homework with my mother's help.
I don't go out with my friends because I have no
money. I said to my mother if we have some money? And mother said
we have just 10,000 dinars [$5 US], and I want you to go to the
market and buy tomatoes, potatoes, and bread so I can prepare
food for you because Amira is going to come tired from work. Amira
comes from work and goes to the bathroom and came out of the bathroom.
We ate dinner. I said why don't we save money so we can buy a
TV?, and Amira said "Allah is a great giver." Then we
went to bed at 9pm.
Once upon a time I was at work around 3pm on Sunday. I was playing
with my friend Selma. I told Selma that we should go home, but
she said that we'll go at 6pm. A boy named Mahmoud came from a
distance holding a big, iron bar in his hand. Mahmoud threw the
iron bar in the street, but it hit my food and I had a big wound.
My foot started bleeding a lot. I went to the hospital
in a taxi while my foot is bleeding. We had only 2000 dinar [$1
US] on us, and went to a nurse who said that she would clean the
wound and took 1500 dinar, and I had only 2000. So I said, "how
much do you want after dressing my wound?" Then I went home
and my mother was sad to see what happened to my foot.
Day after day I went to the hospital and they would
clean it and dress it, and I would pray to Allah to heal my foot.
After 9 days an old man came and said, "what's wrong with
your foot?," and I told him the story. The man said, "would
you go to a doctor?" I said that I have no money. He said,
"come with me to the hospital." We went to the hospital
and they sew my foot with stitches. Then the doctor prescribed
me medicines. After all of this the man paid 15,000 dinar [$7.50
US]. After paying 15,000 at the hospital for the stitching and
medicine, the man said to me go and stay at home and I'll pay
you the money. Stay for 7 days. I said, "you can't do that,"
and the man said, "no problem." I will give you $20
US so you can stay at home. I went home and stayed for 7 days
taking medicine. Then my wound healed and I thanked Allah and
said to the man, "bless you and thank Allah for my good condition."
Oh God, remove the sanctions on the Iraqi people and Mohammad's
God protect our people.
When I go to work, I won't sit, but keep running
and walking, and stopping a little bit and then get back to work.
All of this to get money to buy food for my family. All of this
because of the sanctions. This life has destroyed my life and
my family's life. I work so my family will have food. I pay rent
for the house which is 30,000 dinar [$15 US] a month. I didn't
study because of the bad circumstances for 5 years now. I left
school and I regret that. I see the children study and I feel
Today, I wake up at 6am and go to the bathroom.
I wash my face with water and soap. My mother makes my breakfast
wish is tea, bread and yogurt. I get full, thank God. I am change
to my work clothes. Before going to work my mother would say,
"take care, Amira," and I would say, "yes, don't
I go to work, go to the market and buy chewing
gums to sell in the street, and work until 11am, then buy an egg
sandwich and tea, then go back to work. A man said to me, "why
don't you go to school?" I said, "I don't go to school."
The man said, "school is best, daughter." I said, "our
circumstances is not helping."
The man said, "how many are you at home?"
I said, "Six, and no one works but me." The man said,
"are they old?" And I said, "No, they are young.
One is 2 years old, one is 11 years old, one is 9 years old, I
am 14 years old, and my parents." The man said, "God
is merciful, hopefully your circumstances will change."
I got really sad, then it was 1pm in the afternoon
and I had a fight with a boy who hit me on the mouth and I started
bleeding. He ran away and I started to cry. A man came from the
restaurant and gave me a bottle of water and a tissue and 100
dinars [5 cents]. I thanked the man then I went home.
My little brothers was waiting for me at the door.
They came running happily towards me and I entered the home, and
my mother was sad. I said, "why are you sad, mother?"
My mother said, "I am sad because you have to work to support
us and not go to school like the other children." I said,
"it's okay, mother," and laughed. Sadness is in the
heart, not the eyes.
In the middle of winder it's very cold. I go to work with other
children and we all wonder until how log we are going to be that
way. My father can't work, and I have to get the bread and food
for the family, and all this is due to the sanctions.
I got very sick in mid-winter. My nose started
hurting me and I didn't go to the doctor, so now I have nasal
problems. Sometimes I would wake up with a painful headache, and
I have no money to go to the hospital to do a nasal operation.
They want 100,000 dinar [$50 US] and I have no money. Everyday
I pray to God to heal me. Then I sit a little bit to stop the
dizziness, and hurry to buy medicine which doesn't help me. Some
people say, "why don't you do the operation and get rid of
it?" And I would say, "I have no money." When I
have money I buy medicine from the pharmacy or buy clothes for
my brothers and food for the house. I buy cakes and fruits for
the family when I have money, and I would say, "the money
goes and comes." From today I decided to save money for the
operation to be good.
If there were no sanctions, life would not be expensive.
Life would be beautiful. Sanctions has effected all of us, and
Palestine is in the hand of Zionist criminals. God willing, sanctions
will go from Iraq and Palestine, and Palestine will be liberated
from the criminals. And I, Amira, would go back to school and
won't have to work, and won't get hurt when seeing the other girls
I sat at home on Friday. I woke up at 9am, then went to the bath
and washed my face with soap and water, and ate bread, tea and
eggs for breakfast. Then I washed the dishes and changed my clothes
to help my mother with the house work. Then I cleaned the house
and went to the market to buy meat, tomatoes, onions and bread.
I worked with my mother until 12pm. Mother made us lunch and we
ate it. Mother said to me and my sister, Layla, that we'll go
to our aunt's house. Auntie was happy to see us, and brought us
tea and cake, and I had 2000 dinars [$1 US] and gave them to my
aunt who refused to take them, but I insisted and said, "if
you don't take it I won't see you again." My aunt is in need
for me, and I have her all that I had. She would prepare food
for her children, and I am happy for that.
I went to work and saw a 13 year old girl go to school with my
friend, and I became sad when I saw her. I went to work, bought
chewing gums to sell, and went to work. When I see a girl my age
and my sister's age happy with clothes and I would give her good
A man asked me, "why don't you go to school?
Why stay in the street? You are pretty, why are you in the streets?"
I said, "our circumstances doesn't allow me to go to school.
My father is sick and mother works at home, and I have a little
sister and two younger brothers. No one works but me." The
man became sad and said, "may God make it better for you."
All of what the man said to me made me sad, and
I was going to cry, but was careful for my tear not to drop. All
of this was at 1pm, and I made 3000 dinar [$1.50 US], and this
is the memorial day of the Prophet, and I want a lot of money
on this day, and all I have is 3000. I went to a man friend and
asked him to give me 2000 dinar and I will pay him tomorrow. He
agreed and gave me 2000 dinar. I thanked him and went to the marked
and bought nuts and sweets and candles and incense, and went home
and saw guests in our house. It was my aunt and her kids, and
all the things I bought were 3500 dinar, and I still had 1500
on me and it wasn't enough. So I went to my friend to borrow 3000,
and I would pay her tomorrow, and told her I would give her 4000
for her 3000, and she agreed.
I went to the market and bought meat, tomatoes,
bread, dates and onions, and felt better. It was 5pm, and I prepared
the table, candles and incense, and kept sweets in the plates
and the nuts too. It was 6pm and we were celebrating the birthdate
of the Prophet. I gave a small plate of sweets and nuts to the
neighbors who are poor, and to my aunt and her kids. We celebrated
until 8pm, and then mother prepared dinner, and we ate and thanked
God for the food, and stayed awake until 10pm and mother laid
beds, but it wasn't enough, so Layla and I slept on the carpet.
Then at morning I went and bought bread and cheese
and came back to prepare breakfast. They all wake up and saw the
food ready, and my mother said, "God give you long life."
We all ate. My aunt's husband is dead, and I have my aunt money
for the taxi and we said goodbye. Then I went to work.
God is merciful. He sent me a man who paid me 8000
dinar [$4 US]. I paid my friends the debt I owed them and thanked
them. I thanked God again for his mercy, and that he gave me money
to feed my aunt and her children. I went home happy because I
paid my debts. And I pray God to remove the sanctions from the
children of Iraq and Palestine.
I didn't study. I didn't go to school. I am not like other girls
who go to school, go to relatives, have friends, games. I go to
work, come home, and that's it. So far life isn't pretty.
I get sad when people are leading a happy life
and we live a bad life. I am not supposed to think of life at
this age, but I can't but think when seeing my family in a bad
situation. But I pray and say, "God is merciful." Girls
my age should go to school, and parks, and play games, have friends
and visit relatives. But so far I didn't see but bad things and
sadness. I smile in front of people, but I am sad inside. No one
knows what's in my heart but God.