I removed this post about an interview I conducted with an Iraqi refugee girl because World Pulse's Terms of Service require I abdicate my control of anything I post on this site to World Pulse. By posting on this site, I grant World Pulse the rights to edit and repost this sensitive interview anywhere World Pulse wants, in any format, without my permission or knowledge -- forever, which means any company that buys World Pulse in the future has the right to control my work. See the paragraph below and full Terms of Service at http://www.worldpulse.com/about/terms

Since I have a commitment to keep this little girl safe, I have opted out of participating in World Pulse.

I am very disappointed in World Pulse's lack of response to this issue. Their motto is noble: "No one speaks for me. I speak for myself." Yet, their decision to require me to legally give up control of my work -- my voice -- as well as those of the women and children I've interviewed -- is counter to this noble goal.

To view a variation of the original post as well as other interviews with refugees of the Iraq War, please visit http://www.peacepathfoundation.org/iraq/there’s-no-place-like-home.html

This interview is part of my forthcoming journalistic memoir about my work in the Middle East with Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. To become part of my personal email list of friends and family who will get a special pre-publication discount, please email me directly at BeInvolved@aol.com.

Kelly Hayes-Raitt http://www.worldpulse.com/about/terms

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Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Empowerment and Web 2.0.


Though horrendously compelling, this story touches the depths of my heart. The innocence and youth of a young girl somewhat taken, yet preserved in her knowledge of the world. Kelly, your audacity to thrust yourself in hostile landscapes, for the sole purpose of liberating others, in itself can leave a reader emotionally awestruck. As a father, I am personally moved, by how this little girl could be affected as a result of witnessing violence and oppression. Thank you for sharing your story. It is because of ethically-driven journalists like yourself, that we hear the call of humanity. From Damascus to the United States, your story touches the soul.

Darren Bunton

Darren, thanks for your sweet comments...I have so many heartbreaking stories like this that really put a human face on US foreign policies. The real heroes here are the women and children who so unselfishly share the most horrific times of their lives with me in the hope I can get out their stories to make a difference. I hope through Voices of our Future I can learn how to bring them to a wider audience! ~ Kelly

Kelly Hayes-Raitt www.PeacePATHFoundation.org

Hey Kelly

You have really shown how web 2.0 can be used to empower women and children especially those who have become refugees. You are a very brave person, going to work in a war torn zone to assist those who need your help and I admire you for it. The plight of refugees is one that most people do not understand because the current regime of refugee laws builds the perception that refugees are destitute people who depend on donor aid. As a result most people do not realise that it is only a matter of conflict breaking out in your community before you can also become a refugee. These are people who had families, homes, careers, hopes and aspirations just as we do and all of a sudden they lost them, not of their own will. Instead of being treated like outcasts the way most refugees are treated, they need support so they can feel integrated and normal again. The struggle for reforms in refugee laws is continuing and through the use of platforms such as Pulsewire and articles by Kelly we can keep the struggle alive.

Great article!


Thank you, MaDube, for your supportive comments and also your eloquent description of refugees' plights. As you know, I am writing a book about refugees and will end with Americans who were evacuated from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina's floods. When I was volunteering in New Orleans to help clean up, I heard the same things from these American refugees as I'd heard from Iraqis the summer before: "Our family is scattered." "We've lost our history." "Our lives are in limbo."

Even in the United States, folks from the poorer neighborhoods in New Orleans were treated like outcasts, as you observe, and many of their neighborhoods and homes are still not rebuilt -- 6 years later.

~ Kelly

Kelly Hayes-Raitt www.PeacePATHFoundation.org

There are a number of excellent organizations that support Iraqi refugees. One that impresses me is the Iraqi Student Project (http://iraqistudentproject.org/). This low-overhead organization, started in Damascus, Syria by two Americans, helps young Iraqis get college educations in the United States.

As I mention in my article above, the Syrian government does not permit Iraqis to work (at least legally), so recent high school graduates languish with no jobs, no career and no hope to go to college. The Iraqi Student Project works with young adults and helps them get scholarships at universities in the US.

Ways to help:

• If you have a connection to a university in the US that might earmark a scholarship to a smart young Iraqi who speaks English fluently, please contact the Iraqi Student Project at http://iraqistudentproject.org/what-you-can-do.

• If you live in a community where an Iraqi student is going to school, please join their support group to help them with their social and financial needs (e.g., invite them for Thanksgiving dinner, buy them snowboots, etc).

• Donate to the organization. Every little bit helps!

Please note, I am not affiliated with this organization. I've just seen firsthand the great work they do in Damascus and I visited one student in Buffalo, NY. This is a way the world gets changed one person at a time....

~ Kelly

Kelly Hayes-Raitt www.PeacePATHFoundation.org

Kelly, Thank you so much for sharing this. Your effortless narrative so easily presents facts and explanation of the political and economic backdrop, while emphasizing a truly touching portrait of a small person caught in the middle of it all. I love how you gently weave yourself in as well. You remind me of the truly wondrous qualities of Facebook and social networking (and other sources of Web 2.0.) Please keep writing!

Aren't you kind! I'm so embarrassed I haven't figured out Facebook and Twitter. I'm a natural Luddite; that's why I applied for Voices of Our Future. I have so many stories people have entrusted to me that I have a responsibility to get out. Thank you for your sweet words and support....It keeps me plugging.

~ Kelly

Kelly Hayes-Raitt www.PeacePATHFoundation.org

Kelly, it is so effective to share these important refugee issues through the eyes of a child. A child with worn sequined shoes! I'm trying to to learn more about social networking myself and you are providing a good example. Also, World Pulse is a wonderful organization. I became aware of them while I lived in Portland, Oregon, where I believe the organization had its beginnings and may still have its headquarters.



Thank you, Gloria, for your sweet comment. I have interviewed a number of children; they are so "uncensored" in their comments and impressions. It's heartbreaking to think that some of these kids have never known peacetime -- only recovering from war and preparing for war.

If I'm chosen as a Voice of Our Future student, I'll share what I learn about social media on my blog!

~ Kelly

Kelly Hayes-Raitt www.PeacePATHFoundation.org

Hi Kelly~

How appropriate that you use references to the Wizard of Oz, because where Iraq is concerned, we certainly are not in Kansas anymore! The fact that the Americans hacked off the finger of the father of this sweet child is both horrific and inexcusable. Unlike Dorothy, who awakens from her dream in her own home, this girl is living in a nightmare from which she has no escape. Yet you gave her a voice, you touched our hearts with her story, and hopefully we can empower her to find a way out. Your work is compelling and interesting, and I cannot wait to read more.


Tori, thank you for your comment! You raise an important point that I should clarify: We don't really know who was directly responsible for maiming this little girl's father. Sometimes, children may have been told it was "Americans" who destroyed the lives they knew, but it may have been Iraqi soldiers or dissidents or just thugs. However, as another refugee said to me when describing soldiers who burst into his home and terrified his young daughters: "[They were] Iraqi soldiers, but same hammer."

Whether "Americans" maimed her father or not (and I doubt they did), clearly American policies did.

[This 500-word limit is a killer!]

Thanks again for commenting. You are right: We are most certainly not in Kansas anymore.

~ Kelly

P.S. I kept the girl's name anonymous since I didn't want to further jeopardize her or her family. My notes, however, are intact.

Kelly Hayes-Raitt www.PeacePATHFoundation.org

The organization that arranged the international summer delegation to Syria is the Middle East Fellowship, a non-profit, non-denominational organization based in Pasadena, CA (http://www.syriasummer.org/). They sponsored my trip and I blogged for them; several of my blogs are still on their web site. Currently, they are not organizing a trip to Damascus for summer 2012, as the political situation in Syria is still too unpredictable. However, they coordinate incredible trips to Palestine and are considering a summer 2012 trip to Lebanon. I highly recommend this organization, and I'm happy to answer any questions I can about their program.

~ Kelly

Kelly Hayes-Raitt www.PeacePATHFoundation.org

Dear Kelly,

It was really nice to read your story. Today, there are so many refugees who come to my country because they are feel unsafe in their own country. To me, it is a chronic situation. Living in the middle of war which caused by political issues is not a good option. Come on, we're facing 2011! I bet you'll agree that everyone has their own rights to have an equal opportunity for continuing their life with dignity. Anyway, i'm so excited and won't miss to read other articles that you might have write in the following stories. Stay inspiring! :)

Warm regards,

Tari Indonesia

-- M&E of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Indonesia

"Be the change that you wish to change." - Mahatma Gandhi.

Tari, you bring up an important point: War not only affects people in the country in conflict, but people in neighboring countries to where refugees flee. Innocent women, men and children in entire regions have their lives threatened and upended....Yes, I will keep posting each week and I have other essays about Iraqi and Palestinian refugees on my blog at http://www.peacepathfoundation.org/ .

Thank you for taking the time to comment!

~ Kelly

Kelly Hayes-Raitt www.PeacePATHFoundation.org

I dont know how I feel now after reading your story. I dont know whether I should say Thank you or stop just observe a moment of silence for those in Irag. This must be the worse punish mankind can ever wish for - i mean War and total instability + physical destruction. and for that little girl, it is so so much on her.

Kelly, I must confess that your story is very touching. I feel horrible and all I can wish for is our countless /ceaseless advocacy to call an end to all wars.

Stay Blessed


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Thank you for sharing your story, Kelly. This is such a touching and compelling story. I think that you raise an important point in your blogpost, which is that, unlike what many people in Western countries think, most refugees stay in their region, putting an enormous strain on neighboring countries. On another note, I was wondering if you already have ideas about how you would use Web 2.0 tools to empower you and to tell not only the story of the people you met along the way, such as this girl, but also your own story (because it sounds to me like you yourself have a story to tell as well)? Myrthe

Myrthe, thank you for asking. I know I underuse Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn and I underuse my own blog. I don't understand SEO and tagging and "friending" and I haven't figured out how to guest blog intelligently. I need help! ...And not just from books or articles, some of which I've read, but from someone who will help walk this 50-year-old Luddite into this century.

I'm a good public relations leader. I'm creative, persistent and persuasive. I've just let myself get behind by not recognizing and applying the new social media opportunities. I need help with the mechanics and the beginning applications. So many women (and children) have given me their stories -- sharing their most vulnerable and painful stories with me -- in the hope I will publicize their plight. I feel I've failed them!

And, yes, I have a personal story to tell....How insightful of you. That's what my book is about! ...A journalistic memoir about my recovery from a mid-life loss by volunteering in the Middle East with Iraqi and Palestinian refugees.

My next post will tell a bit more about me.

Thanks so much for reaching out!


Kelly Hayes-Raitt www.PeacePATHFoundation.org

How sorry to read this ,kelly!

When we hear about refugee in the world ,every body feels sorry .No one is wanted to use the word "Refugee".So I pray that to disappear the word "Refugee" in the human community .And how about you?

Best wishes! Zin Zar