Zeinab: a little Ahwazi girl who dreamt of school and a pushchair

Zeinab was seven years old when she died in June of this year. The little girl, from the town of Howeyzeh in Al-Ahwaz, died of complications arising from hydrocephalus (water on the brain) because her desperately poor parents couldn’t afford the medical treatment that could have saved her life.  Although doctors knew of her condition, with her father unable to afford even to register her birth, her tragically young death was the first time that they had ever taken any interest in her.

Zeinab’s heartbroken father Oudeh explained that he couldn’t even afford to take his beloved daughter to the doctor’s since he could barely afford to put bread on the table to keep his family alive.   He recalled that Zeinab never understood the value of money or official documents like a birth certificate; her simple ambitions were to be able to attend school, to sit on a school bench, to have a real wheelchair to get around in rather than being reliant on being carried.

With their parents unable to afford the cost of registering their births, neither Zeinab nor her surviving siblings ever had the chance to attend school.   Their father, working as a labourer, is barely able to keep a roof over the family’s head and put bread on the table in the one-room shack that is their home, seen in the photograph here.


Her father said: “Zeinab’s dead now and free from pain and hunger, but will the officials’ consciences ever be free from guilt? Will they ever understand the meaning of humanity or feel the pain that we’ve gone through?  We have nothing…nothing… we just look to God to help us.  My children are weak with hunger. Sometimes it takes me many days even to bring a piece of candy for them. All they taste is bitterness.”

He recalled that Zeinab had always dreamt of having a pushchair or wheelchair with a cover to protect her head from the scorching sun. While he tried to cheer her up by using the wheelbarrow from his workplace as a carriage (pictured), pretending that it was the same, it was terribly uncomfortable for her due to her condition; she dreamt simply of having a pushchair, and would look at children in strollers in the area, saying, “Daddy, daddy, I want one like that, not like this.”


Main source:

C: R.H

S: aLiBz

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