While stories conveying the latest body count, roadside bomb and sectarian killing have their place, reporting that continuously harps on these topics does not represent the truth about Iraq or its people. In fact, it leaves out one key point: the message of hope.
Take for example, a recent BBC report about the Sabian Mandaeans of Iraq, who believe in Adam, Noah, and John the Baptist but not in Muhammad, and are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. The report says that Sabian Mandaeans find themselves in an increasingly threatened position as they become pariahs in a conflict in which even members of the same religion do not spare each other from terrible acts of violence.
A disturbing story indeed, filled with many disturbing facts. But more disturbing than the content itself is what the story leaves out: hope for a chance to improve the situation. While the story is factual, it is not accurate. And sadly, its one-sided approach perpetuates feelings of hopelessness and breeds public apathy. It temps you to think, "It's all so terrible that nothing can be done to make things better. Why should we even bother trying? The problem is simply too big, the facts simply too overwhelming."
With this in mind, here are two EPIC Ground Truth Project interviews that provide a new perspective on Iraq--or, as we like to think of it, 'the ground truth:'
Khaldoon Ali talks about the harsh realities facing the Roma (a.k.a. Gypsies) of Iraq that ultimately compelled him to found Mercy Hands, an on-the-ground Iraqi aid organization:
"When Saddam’s regime fell, the Roma people became targets of violence and the new Iraqi government stripped them of their privileges. Today, the Roma are often forced to sell alcohol and prostitute themselves in order to survive.Sean Garcia of Refugees International discusses the chances of congressional action that will help to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis in Iraq:
"After I realized that no one was helping the Roma, I pleaded with many international humanitarian organizations to help. Unfortunately, this was in 2004, when many international NGOs started to leave Iraq. Eventually Première Urgence, the NGO I worked for, decided to reduce its mission, as well, but they encouraged me to establish a local NGO of my own."
"We are in a very positive moment right now with the new Congress. We have gotten a very warm reception on Capitol Hill from the leadership and from congressmen and women interested in Iraq, and there’s clearly a willingness on the part of Congress to increase funding to address the situation. "
The humanitarians featured in these two interviews give us genuine hope for the future of Iraq and its people.