Haider's Story

Correspondent Terry McCarthy blogs:

Haider captured our hearts at the ABC Baghdad bureau. We have been humbled to discover how many of our viewers have been similarly touched.

The 11 year-old Iraqi boy had found his father’s body, beheaded by insurgents, on the side of the road near where he lived earlier this year.  Since then he has retreated into his own mind, staring into nothingness for hours on end, crying, not playing with the other kids, no longer going to school.  We did a story on Haider – and others with mental damage from this war – last Friday night on World News. Since then we have received over 50 messages by phone and email from viewers offering to help Haider in whatever way they can. 

This is deeply moving to us.  Iraq is a country that many Americans probably feel they have heard way too much about recently, nearly all of it bad news.  And yet the story of one vulnerable boy in need of help was able to transcend all that, and bring out a level of generosity and concern that is beyond anything we expected.

We have come across many moving stories in Iraq.  War always produces an overflow of suffering and tragedy – the important thing for reporters is to stay alive to the human dimension, not to get lost in dehumanizing abstractions: body counts, territory won or lost…  Haider captured the human dimension of this conflict for us, and also for many of you – and for that alone we are very grateful.

Iraq is not an easy country in which to dispense aid – pretty much all the charities and NGO’s who typically perform such tasks in other countries have been forced to leave Iraq, after a series of kidnappings and attacks against the UN and NGO’s back in 2003 and 2004 that left many good people dead.  We are working on getting Haider some psychological counseling and making sure he and his family have the help they need to get over the tragedy they have endured.  For those of you who want to contribute, we ask you to bear with us as we work out the best mechanism for getting assistance to Haider.  And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for showing us that you care for individuals in a country that is going through one of its darkest hours.

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