Baghdad School Survives In Spite Of Saddam And U.S.
January 13, 2005
BAGHDAD, IRAQ--In times of war, the term "hero" is easy to overuse.
But I just read about a group of heroes -- parents, teachers and many others -- who are struggling every day for dozens of children with Down syndrome at Hibato-Allah Centre, a school in downtown Baghdad.
Tuesday's Guardian featured a story about the school which Sahira Abdul-Latif Mansour started at her home in 1993. Mansour wanted to have a place for her daughter, Hiba, to be welcomed and to learn, but she found both mainstream schools and programs designed for children with disabilities unsatisfactory.
Mansour and her husband have kept the school going, with 31 teachers, in spite of a lack of government support. In fact, after her husband gave a television interview a few years ago telling viewers the government should help the children, Saddam Hussein's intelligence officers visited to let him know the dictator did not appreciate such statements.
Since the American occupation began, the school has received little financial support except for money from some families and a grant from a Japanese foundation which was spent on furniture, air conditioners and a generator. The city only supplies electricity for about two hours each day.
The war brings new dangers to the school, the teachers and the students every day. After hearing bomb blasts, parents often call the school to make sure their children are safe.
One of the Japanese workers who came to present the foundation grant money was later killed in a roadside shooting outside Baghdad.
"The gift of a school" (The Guardian)