Greenville Catholics join community, interfaith effort to aid Iraqi children

GREENVILLE — Catholics in the Upstate have worked successfully with others to bring a second Iraqi child injured in the war to Greenville for medical treatment.

Rusul Jalal, 7, arrived in Greenville on July 11 and was operated on at Shriners Hospital for Children July 17. She is the cousin of Salee Allawe, who was treated at Shriners in 2007. Salee had lost her legs during a missile strike in 2006. The same strike killed one of Salee’s brothers and caused severe damage to muscles and bones in Rusul’s right leg.

Rusul and Salee have been raised together as sisters. She traveled to the United States via Jordan with Salee’s father, Hussein Feras Allawe, who also is known as “Abu Ali.”

Her arrival is the result of months of work by volunteers in both Greenville and Asheville, N.C., who belong to chapters of No More Victims, an organization that obtains medical sponsorships for Iraqi children injured in the war and helps bring them to the United States for free medical help.

No More Victims was founded in 2006 and has helped bring Iraqi children to Pittsburgh, Maine, Colorado and other locations around the United States.

“The people at Shriners Hospital told us last year when Salee was here that they would help her cousin if they could,” said Ann Oliver Cothran, a member of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Anderson, and coordinator for No More Victims in Greenville. “We started back then getting her medical records together for them, and the real work to bring her here this year has been going on since March.”

At Shriners Hospital, surgeons amputated Rusul’s foot. She is staying at the Ronald McDonald House to recover from surgery and learn to use a walker. Her next appointment is Aug. 15 and she may remain in her cast for a month before she is fitted for a prosthetic.

Cothran said helping Rusul has been an interfaith effort this year. People from St. Mary of the Angels and St. Anthony of Padua in Greenville have teamed with Protestant churches to donate time and money. A benefit concert for Rusul was held at Furman University on July 15.

A local mosque in Greenville also has become involved, and a Presbyterian church in the Upstate is hosting a fund-raising dinner on Aug. 16.

“It’s nice to see this become an interfaith effort, and the help is really needed because it has been more expensive to bring Rusul here,” Cothran said.

The little girl was greeted at the airport on July 11 by a large crowd of well-wishers from around the Upstate, and since then has received a steady stream of visitors and gifts.

Cothran said she has been able to make short trips around the Greenville area to eat ice cream, shop a little and visit  attractions for children.

She said Rusul, who knows some English but often speaks through an interpreter, was anxious for her surgery so she can attend school with Salee.

“I can’t imagine how happy she’ll be when she gets home and can go to school,” Cothran said. “She’s an amazingly smart little girl and so longs for an education.”

Father Patrick Tuttle of St. Anthony of Padua found a used laptop for Allawe to use while he is in the states so he can keep in touch with his family in Iraq. One of the ongoing projects at St. Anthony is to rework donated computers and give them to people who otherwise could not afford one.

“I’m very impressed with the whole effort to bring Rusul here,” Father Tuttle said.

“We were also involved as a parish in getting Salee here,” he said. “This is an important project because it takes into consideration the realities of collateral damage in war. My work with Rusul and her father is just part of my effort to follow Jesus wherever I can.”

Cothran said Rusul will probably be in South Carolina for at least three months to complete her treatment.

To learn more about No More Victims, visit