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Luay, 14, Iraq

luayWe met in Basra after the Gulf-war. Luay lived in a half-ruined house and his parents asked us if we could talk to him because he had increasingly isolated himself to the extent that he hardly saw his friends in addition to dropping out of school.

They said that this had gradually developed after the bombing of their city. Luay was more than willing to talk and we sat down with him for a long while and told the interpreter only to give short summaries of his continuous, almost desperate account. Later we reconstructed it step by step.
He told us that the main event causing his problems was when he participated in bringing dead people out of the ruins.He told us he crawled into a house and managed to get “a mother” out. She was dead. He cleaned her body for dust and debris, “and then I went for the baby”. He obviously knew the family. The baby was also dead. He cleaned him carefully. He placed the boy at the mother’s chest and folded her arms around the baby. “Then I went home.”

Now he was cornered by his traumatic memory and his feeling of loneliness was most intensive when he was with friends. “I am alone among them.”

For us Luay’s acts were almost historic. In the way he restored world order by uniting mother and baby even after the death of both.