- March 23 - Amal Shamuri is the fifth child in a family of eight,
living in a small apartment off Baghdad's Karrada shopping district.
Irrepressable and precocious, Amal joked last January that she
wouldn't mind a war if George Bush would only bomb her school.
a different story. Today, Amal celebrated her thirteenth birthday
on the fourth day of American air strikes on Baghdad with plumes
of black smoke surrounding the city and darkening the sky, reportedly
from oil set afire by Iraqi forces defending the capitol.
and friends gathered with members of the Voices in the Wilderness'
Team in a small garden near the Tigris river to mark the
occasion. They blew balloons and soap bubbles, strung party
streamers, played tag, and ate barbequed chicken, potato salad,
deviled eggs, and chocolate cake. True to form, the kids ate
the cake first, before serving the rest of the meal to the adults
exploding to the south and east occasionally interrupted the
party, one powerful enough to rattle tableware and partygoers
alike. The explosions only temporarily silenced the festivities;
but with moments the garden once again erupted to squeals of
laughter and boisterous childhood games, played beneath rising
plumes of air-borne debris and smoke in the distance.
is more powerful than death," said Shane Claiborne, age
27, from Philadelphia. "How can George Bush bomb these
kids?," he asked.
age 32, from Montreal, quietly remarked,"What a day to
Kareema, sat silently to one side, watching her kids play. Her
husband died in a car accident eight years ago, leaving her
to raise eight children by herself. To her credit, none of them
beg in the streets, and all save the oldest remain in school.
Amal herself dreams of becoming a lawyer one day.
what she wanted for her birthday, Amal - who's name means "hope"
in Arabic - smiled and simply replied, "All I want is peace."