Today I'm the only one in class...
By Samir Ibraheem
29 January 2007
BAGHDAD - I'm 11 years old and an only son. I'm a pupil at
Mansour Primary School in Baghdad. Lately, I have been
feeling very lonely in my class. This week, I was the only
student in class because all my classmates didn't come to
school for various reasons.
Since last September, three of my classmates have been
kidnapped and two have been killed. One was murdered with
his family at home and the other was a victim of a bomb
explosion a month ago. I remember one day when I was
leaving school, four men pulled up in a car and kidnapped
Khadija, one of my friends. She was only 10.
The others have either fled to Jordan and Syria with their
families or their relatives have prohibited them from
coming to school for fear that something might happen to
I live very close to my school. I can walk there in two
minutes. My mother takes me there and picks me up every
day. She prays all the way to school and all the way back
and tells me not to be scared. She says that at least I'm
studying and one day I can be an important man and leave
Every time something happens to a child from my school,
the next day all classes are empty and they stay empty for
at least a week. Families and teachers get scared and
I remember one day when I was leaving school, four men
pulled up in a car and kidnapped Khadija, one of my
friends. She was only 10. I cried for days on end fearing
she was going to be killed. Her parents sold their house
and car to pay the ransom money and then she was released.
But she was so weak that she had to be hospitalized for
Now she and her family are in Jordan. I miss her, but I
know it is better for all of them.
The only thing that makes me afraid is that if they kidnap
me, I know I'll be killed. My family has no money to pay a
ransom. We don't have a house, a car or any other goods to
sell. So for sure I could be another victim of the terror
that we live with but I have faith that God will protect
Most of our teachers have left the school. I heard that
some of them have traveled abroad and others stopped
working for security reasons on the insistence of their
families. I miss them all. I miss the days when we used to
run in our school and go home on our own, not worried by
This week, I asked my mum to keep me at home too because I
was the only child in class but she insisted that I go to
school. I'm scared but I have to obey my mother.
We were 21 students and today I'm the only one in class.
When people ask me if I have hopes that everything will be
fixed and we will have security again, I answer that I
don't because the violence is increasing every day and I
continue to lose friends.
I cannot study any more. I don't have the concentration
and the teachers don't give us lessons as before. What I
study these days is material that I learned two years ago.
I'm not sure that if I study like that I'll turn out to be
that important man who my mother believes I'm going to be.
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