Hiking Babylon, Hoops In Saddam's Living Room

A photo of the ruins of Babylon with Saddam's former palace on the hilltop behind them near Hilla, Iraq.

We're halfway through Remedy Mission XII, and that means something sweet: a day off.

On previous Remedy Missions, I used this day to catch up on big projects or even to grab a few extra hours of sleep. As you can probably imagine, these missions that you help us put on are intense.

We arrive at the hospital at 8am and usually stay there until 8 or 9 at night; if an operation goes longer, the team sometimes stays past midnight. After a week of this, a day off is essential for the team to re-fuel.

A photo of the Remedy Mission XII team touring the inner city of Babylon with a tour guide.

Many of these doctors and nurses use their vacation time to come on trips like this—that means they’re using their vacation to work harder than they would at home!

But the mid-mission trip is a good opportunity for the team to enjoy a little time away from the hospital, and for this mission we went to the ancient city of Babylon and Saddam’s vacated former palace.

Iraq, as I’m sure you know, is a place with a lot of history; The Cradle of Civilization, as it’s often called. And a lot of cool stuff that you’ve probably heard of was invented here: farming, cities, writing, and the wheel, just to name a few.

A photo of the Lion of Babylon outside the Procession Way in Babil, Iraq near Hilla.

For me personally, it’s an interesting place because of the Biblical references. I grew up reading and hearing about Babylon, I had read the history—the words—and I knew the city existed, but visiting it and taking pictures of it with my own eyes made it so much more real—it offered me a reference point.

And that’s really my hope for you as you see photos and watch videos of these children you’re helping us save. I wish each of you could come to a Remedy Mission and to walk the halls of a hospital in-the-flesh, but I hope the hundreds of sweet, needy faces that we put in front of you will make this fact more and more real to you: The Backlog exists, and it isn’t ancient history.

At least not yet!

After an hour of trying to keep up with our tour guides, we piled into a van and drove up the hill to one of Saddam’s old palaces (pictured in the photo above behind the Lion). The photos below show a little of what we saw, including the basketball hoop in Saddam’s living room (presumably left by Coalition forces?).

A photo of the stairway up to the second floor in Saddam's Babylon palace near Hilla, Iraq.

Barbed wire blocking the stairway to the second floor of the palace.

An old makeshift basketball hoop hung in the former sitting room of Saddam's Babil palace.

A makeshift basketball hoop hung in the former sitting room of the palace.

A photo of the rebuilt ruins of Babylon as seen from Saddam's palace.

The rebuilt ruins of Babylon as seen from Saddam's palace window.

A photo of one of our personal security guards poking his head into the shot of Saddam's living room ceiling.

Ali, one of our security guards, with the ceiling of the living room behind him.


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About Matthew Willingham

Matt Willingham is Preemptive Love's Senior Field Editor and writes primarily on politics, history, general updates and visual peacemaking through photography and film.


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Hikes Around Babylon, Hoops In Saddam's Living Room
Hiking Babylon, Hoops In Saddam's Living Room
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