Coalition of Compassion hopes to help a wounded Iraqi child

GREENVILLE — A group in the Upstate is hoping to bring comfort and aid to a child wounded in the war in Iraq.

The Upstate Coalition of Compassion is an interdenominational group of about 10 people working to bring an injured Iraqi child to South Carolina for medical treatment. The group formed last summer and is working with the humanitarian organization No More Victims.

One of the founders of the coalition is Ann Cothran, a member of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Anderson. The group formed because of concerns about the war in Iraq and the number of civilians being wounded in the conflict.

Cothran belongs to an Upstate branch of Pax Christi, the U.S. branch of the Catholic peace movement, and she said these issues were among their main focuses.

No More Victims, founded in 2002, is described on its Web site as a “non-profit, non-sectarian, humanitarian organization” founded to “restore health and well-being to victims of war and to advocate and educate for peace.”

Its mission is finding medical sponsorships for Iraqi children injured in the war, and forging ties between the children and their families and American communities.

So far No More Victims has brought four children to the U.S. for pro bono medical help from hospitals in Pennsylvania, California, Florida and Texas.

Founder Cole Miller is flying to Amman, Jordan, in December to pick up medical records of children the organization may be able to help.

Coalition member Selena Frank said there is a possibility he may be able to bring one of the children, a 16-year-old named Shaima, back to America for treatment. If so, there is a strong chance she would come to Greenville for help, Cothran said.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic about this… we are possibly going to make a big difference in a child’s life,” Cothran said in a telephone interview with The Miscellany.

“We’ll be helping a child, and helping to make people aware of civilian casualties caused by this war.”

A biography of Shaima provided by No More Victims states that she is originally from the village of Meshan, located near Basra in southern Iraq. In 2003, people from her village were injured by shells.

Shaima received multiple shell wounds in both thighs and severe damage to her left knee. She lost her left knee joint, which left her unable to walk well. Doctors in Iraq have attempted to help her, but she needs a knee joint replacement, a type of surgery not available in her homeland.

The coalition is “very close” to having an area hospital commit to treating a child from Iraq, but it cannot be named because negotiations are still underway, Frank said.

Coalition members are also searching for a Muslim host family to house the child and one of her parents during her stay.

Frank said the initial amount the Upstate Coalition needs to raise is between $8,000 and $10,000. The funds would cover the costs of bringing a child and guardian to America from Iraq, translator fees, and other expenses. Treatment for Shaima, or any other child selected to come, would be provided pro bono.

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