A red ERROR is blinking on my camera screen.
From the minute we stepped out of the car near Bzebez Bridge, kids swarmed to have their picture taken. “Kids” may be the wrong term for them, though. Even the eight year-olds have a weathered look, many of them already the primary breadwinners for their displaced family.
My camera finally gives out after so many photos in the 120+ degree heat. These children push huge loads every day for around $10 per trip, but there’s no way they can stop—families across the Euphrates are counting on them.
When ISIS captured the key city of Ramadi last May, hundreds of thousands fled toward Baghdad. For most, the trek across the desert ended at this small foot bridge, called Bzebez, where families are still waiting.
Before you showed up, the only hope many of these families had was to hire these boys with wheelbarrows. No other international organizations are coming, and very few locals are willing to brave no-man’s land.
One boy proudly shared that he, displaced person from Fallujah over a year ago, carts supplies to families for free. Several others said they’re the only providers for their family, that they wish they could go back to school.
We are not working with these boys, but our goals are the same: to save and serve suffering people. To us, they’re heroes who are showing up in a place and for people others won’t.