Sunday, March 06, 2005
My friend Az
I would like to inform all of you loyal subscribers of my friend Az (name left out for his protection). He is Kurdish (from the far north of Iraq) but lives currently in Tikrit. He works in the Iraqi national shop on my FOB (forward operations base). Last time I was here you could go and get anything you wanted from the Iraqis at their shops off the bases, but now it is against our GENERAL orders to purchase anything from the Iraqis other than those on the FOBs. I can only guess that this is because people were purchasing 'bad' things last time like alcohol and because of the danger of traveling in military convoys now. Well, back to Az, he is a couple weeks younger than me, we speak in Arabic together and I usually go to his shop (a watch shop where they have any authentic looking 'expensive' watch you could want from Rolex to Mavado) a couple times a week for an hour or two. The watches actually, look really nice (I am thinking of getting one just to say I have a Rolex or something)... The problem for the Iraqis is that working for the Americans is dangerous and many are killed because of it. For example about 6 months before I got here they had an Iraqi who was a barber and another who gave massages and they were both found, killed with their hands chopped off. Az wants to be a teacher someday and would love to visit America. He is completely amazed that I am the same age, yet I have a wife and 2 kids. He is overly kind (just like most Arabs), the last time I saw him he had only one chair and refused to let me stand (I HAD to sit while he stood). Another thing that I like about him is that he works his butt off for 7 dollars a week (he told me that if he wasn't working for the Americans he would only be making about 2 dollars a week). That 7 dollars goes to his family who he lives with, his dad can't work anymore (due to injuries) and there is no work for women that pays anything here. I have offered to give him money as a gift (like 10 dollars) to get something for himself or perhaps for something for his girlfriend (yes he has a girlfriend, but the Kurds aren't as strict about males and females talking, smiling, calling, etc... With each other) He still has to be careful about who knows he is her 'boyfriend' (like when he calls and she doesn't answer he has to tell her father or brother or whoever that he accidentally dialed the wrong number). Anyway, he flatly refused my money and would have NONE OF IT. I am writing this because I have seen how it is for the Iraqis who work honestly for their money and would like to do something to help my friend, if you have any suggestions please tell me. Thanks and take care.