Maliaa Mohammed Rashid from Iraq

Maliaa Mohammed Rashid, a 65-year-old mother from Halabja, lost her son when he was 9 months old. She and her family took a path through the snowy mountains towards Iran after Halabja was bombarded with chemical weapons in March 1988. On her way out of the town, she was exposed to chemicals. Half conscious and unable to see, she reached the Iranian border. “It was like the Apocalypse. When we reached Iran, they took me and my 9-month old son to a Hospital in Kermanshah Province. I was only able to see the shapes of the things around me. A woman dressed completely in black took my child; I was not able to resist her. It took me 40 days to rejoin the rest of my family. My son was not with them.” She went back to the hospital, but her child was not there. She visited every possible office to find out what had happened to her child but found nothing. Holding a photo of her son, she says, “After 30 years, I cannot look at his picture without crying. Remembering that woman in black feels like dying every day. I feel my son is still alive and lives in Iran somewhere. I follow the news every day only to maybe hear something about the lost children of Halabja.”