Friday, August 06, 2010

Love Stories of Iraqi Widows

After a love story that lasted 10 years, one minute was all it took to lost my husband.

The number of widows resulting from the last three decades of conflict in Iraq has grown to more than a million. Iraqi women tell their stories of the loves they once had and the difficult lives that were left behind.

Razan Othman Mohammed, 29-year-old worker in Baghdad

Back in 2008, my husband, his orphaned relative - who was only five years old - and I were caught up in a bomb explosion at the market. When the medics came to our rescue, a suicide bomber strapped with explosives set off another bomb. I lost consciousness at that moment and my body was full of shrapnel. My husband died of his injuries on his way to the hospital and the orphaned child was badly injured. He is now disabled and no longer able to walk. I have undergone five surgeries in the aftermath of the explosions. My condition was so serious that I didn't know my husband had died for three months, as the doctors advised my family to keep the news from me. I have since moved back in with my parents and I look after myself using my own income. I see myself in a better position compared to other widowed women since I do not have any children. But what about all the other young widowed women who have children? Who will support them?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Susan Retik Honored by President Obama

It was so exciting! I had no idea that I would be called out... Susan Retik emailed me today after President Obama made special mention of her at a White House ceremony during which she was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal for her work with Afghan widows. It's the second highest honor that can be bestowed on an American citizen.

"Susan Retik’s husband was killed when his plane was flown into the World Trade Center on September 11th. And nobody would have blamed Susan if she had turned inward with grief or with anger," President Obama said. "But that isn’t who she is. So instead, she and another widow started Beyond the 11th, and this is a group that empowers Afghan widows affected by war and terrorism. And Susan says,'These women are not our enemy.'"

The pride at Principle Pictures is twofold. We are ecstatic that Susan is being recognized for her commitment to building a lasting peace in Afghanistan. She deserves it! And we're reminded of our own role in helping to highlight the power of the individual as someone who saw BEYOND BELIEF nominated Susan for the award.

Today's White House ceremony kicks off a year-long, high-visibility 10th Anniversary of 9/11 campaign that is being launched by Susan’s foundation, Beyond the 11th, and us - Principle Pictures, producers of the BEYOND BELIEF documentary in which Susan’s story is featured. We have a shared mission: to use the power of media to inspire activism and education and encourage others to fulfill the President’s call to service.

At this important moment in America’s history, there is a real opportunity to help reshape the conversation about September 11th and the War on Terror, and do what we can to help eliminate the threat of terrorism. We hope you'll join our year-long campaign that's aimed at sparking meaningful public dialogue and citizen activism around peace in Afghanistan.

Congratulations, Susan! You continue to inspire us and so many others.