Lydia Phillips

>"…or till the last of those bad thoughts are finally out."

In Uncategorized on June 11, 2010 at 9:12 am


I think this is going to be a very long blog post…but you’ll be rewarded with photos the whole way through! So stick with me, if you have the time and patience.
I’m trying to write this linearly, because that seems most logical. Tuesday night we went to the home of Ismail Kayat, a local artist with a fervent desire to see peace for Kurdistan. Kak Ismail has seen his country from the earliest days of Saddam Hussein, through Hussein’s “arabization” attempts, through the chemical Anfal attacks, through the Gulf War, through whatever the last 10 years have been, and today. Can you imagine? Every decade of his life has seen a new form of violence in his homeland.
Most of his work in the last 20-odd years has been a response to the chemical bombing of Kurdistan (aka, the Anfal campaign). He has a vision of painting a mask/face for every one of the 182,000 Kurds murdered by Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Truly incredible depth of inspiration and purpose, I’m completely humbled by being in his presence. How audacious can my desire to show the world another side of Iraq be, next to his? I know nothing, he’s lived everything. Its a terrible, wonderful feeling to talk with someone who knows infinitely more than you do about something you’re genuinely interested in.

On Wednesday, I got to visit the hospital and meet Dr. Aso, the solitary pediatric cardiologist in all of Iraqi Kurdistan. He is a close friend of PLC’s and will be key to the Remedy campaign this August.
This baby has Downs Syndrome, and a heart condition called Single Ventricle heart disease. Basically, her heart isn’t divided, so both the pure and impure blood are mixing through one main area of her heart. 2/3 of babies with this condition will see their first birthday, only 1 in 3 will see their tenth.
And again, Dr. Aso is the only pediatric cardiologist in Kurdistan. In the time we were in his office the line of patients waiting to see him never slowed. The heart conditions these children shoulder are stuff of nightmares for parents in the States. And they’re no less horrific for mothers and fathers here in Iraq.

Parents who read this: Consider doing for someone else’s child what you would do for your own.

Also on Wednesday, Josh and I started a new series about pharmacies here in Iraq. I was thinking along the lines of Ed Ruscha’s 26 Gasoline Stations, which is a series I LOVE. It didn’t quite work out that way, but we spent a few hours photographing in and around some pharmacies here.

We’ll continue it over the next week or so and hopefully have a cohesive result.
Ok, close you eyes. Pretend you’re taking a prescription to have it filled.
Are you going here? It’s still hard to think of life here as reality.
When I got back, baby Abdul Kareem was in the office. I’m using some photos of him and his father as a mini-campaign for Father’s Day. Abdul is dying of heart disease. This might be the last Father’s Day he’ll ever see.

Consider giving to a child’s surgery fund instead of that new grill, hammock, lawn mower, or whatever fantastic gift you had planned for your dad! 🙂
Thursday (yesterday) I went on two follow-up home visits to kids who have already had heart surgery. The first, Honya.
A beautiful 15-month-old girl who had surgery in December. Though she’s recovered perfectly, her growth was so stunted that she still doesn’t have any teeth. Her parents lovingly refer to her as “grandma” 🙂

The second home visit was to a 10-year old boy named Mohammed. This is the house he lives in with his parents and two siblings. (The car is ours)

They invited us in where we sat and talked with his family. Mohammed showed of his scar (come on, he’s a boy)

And his mother fed us cucumbers and watermelon, “lime drink” (picture Jell-O before it’s congealed) and baklava. So much hospitality in this country!!

Mohammed has 14 chickens that he raised himself, from eggs. So crazy cool! I don’t know any 10 year olds who can do that.
I left his home not sure what to think. Both he and Honya live within a half hour from Halabja, the city that suffered the most concentrated attack by Saddam Hussein. I can’t say this with absolute medical authority, but it would seem that their health conditions are most likely related. How do you deal with something like that? As a parent, a sibling, a victim? How would you justify your feelings toward your government? Or toward the rest of the world, who’s eyes have turned away from a suffering yours never can.
It was definitely better meeting two kids who are healthy as a result of Preemptive Love in Iraq, instead of children who are dying. There is hope for peace-making, even in the wake of genocide.
Now a much, much lighter note! We left Mohammed’s and drove back to the city. Awara and I went straight to Kak Aram’s shoemaking-shop (remember Brain Soup? same guy) where my, one-of-a-kind, first ever, female Klash were waiting!

Soooo cute! Honestly I didn’t do anything for these, I was just extremely blessed to be the guinea pig. Preston and Ben (two other interns) did all of the work in designing and planning, they just needed a girl to fit the shoes.
Also…rumor has it they’re going to be called “Klashi Lydia”, which might be the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. They might not be though, so don’t get your hopes up.

Yeah, I’m in love. Pre-orders will happen soon, for those of you who are interested.
So. I think you’re all caught up to speed, at least for now. The title of this blog is from an Avett Brother’s song titled, “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” and I really like the lyrics. Story of my life right now. Lots of thoughts going on, lots of hope for the rest of the summer.
Have a beautiful Friday! Please be praying for these kids and Iraq.
  1. >Great post Lydia. I'm sure in a few months we won't be able to get away from the fashion explosion that is "Klashi Lydia" 🙂

  2. >"How would you justify your feelings toward your government? Or toward the rest of the world, who's eyes have turned away from a suffering yours never can."i really like this line lydia. very thought provoking. i think it takes massive amounts of forgivness and humanity for these families to fine hope for their situations. besides, if they can't, who will. i think it starts with them first. just a thought! have fun, be safe, and i'm enjoying reading your blog. keep up the good work!-kim

  3. >Nice work, Lydia.

  4. >Great post! Where can I get a pair of "Klashi Lydia"? I've looked everywhere and there's NO KLASH FOR GIRLS!!!

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