July 23, 2012
Ma'ath Hamid, 7, front, amuses himself by moving a table with the help of his father, Hamid Hamed, 31, as his younger brother, Anass Hamid, 3, sits on the couch at their home in Fallujah, Iraq. Ma'ath suffers from muscular atrophy of the brain, a disease that he was born with. In 2004, when Ma'ath's mother was pregnant with him and the family was living in the suburbs of Fallujah, in a village called Hay al-Jugaifi, bombs exploded as the U.S. military attacked a nearby house. Hamed remembers gathering his family — including his wife, his mother and two of his sisters — and running from his house through a white cloud of smoke that smelled of explosives. Six months after Ma'ath was born in March 2005, his mother, Rajed Abdul Sattar, noticed his slow development. Given the dangers of going to a hospital in Baghdad, the family took Ma'ath to Syria. After doctors there examined Ma'ath, his father was taken aback when the doctor asked if their family was from Fallujah. Although there is no conclusive evidence, Ma'ath's problems follow a pattern of unusually high birth defects that may be caused by the white phosphorous or depleted uranium found in weapons used by the U.S. military in their 2004 Fallujah battles. One of Hamed's sisters, who was with him as they fled their home during the 2004 attack, has had three babies who died within the first 1 to 3 months of being born.
The Washington Post