Her picture has been around the world, but until now, Asraa Mizyad was simply a poor, injured girl in a small Iraqi village.
On Sunday, she became a world traveler, and soon she will have two arms.
Fourteen- year-old Mizyad arrived in Houston for medical care Sunday. The trip was the product of two years of work by two activists who immortalized her in a photograph.
At Shriners Hospital she will be fitted for a prosthetic arm and receive rehabilitation and treatment for shrapnel wounds in her abdomen, chest and skull.
Mizyad lost her right arm to an American cruise missile four years ago during U.S. bombings in the No Fly Zone near Basra, said Cole Miller, one of the activists who helped bring her to Houston.
Mizyad walked out of a several-hour ordeal in airport customs and immigration Sunday – just one delay in a long chain of bureaucracy – looking dazed and tired, but quick to offer a shy smile.
Mizyad wore a traditional Iraqi dress, in orange and trimmed with polka dots, the right sleeve dangling empty. Her hair was covered with an embroidered head scarf.
She stayed silent as her father answered questions from the media in Arabic.
Abdul Ameir Alman, Mizyad’s father, said through a translator that he never dreamed that the trip would become a reality. Now, he said, he hopes only that Mizyad “gets back to normal.”
Alman described a grim situation in Iraq, even after the war.
“Things have not changed. The health situation, the sanitary situation is still very bad,” he said. “There is still very much uncertainty and fear.”
But Alman was quick to say he does not blame the United States for his daughter’s injuries. “This was fated from God,” he said.
Austin photographer Alan Pogue, an activist with the Veterans for Peace, captured a searing portrait of Mizyad, her right stump visible.
Los Angeles writer Miller suggested making the picture into a poster, and they say it has been used in anti-war demonstrations around the world.
The activists struggled through two years of bureaucracy, near misses and dead ends to get Mizyad medical help that is not available in Iraq.
Miller and Pogue see Mizyad as an ambassador for all the wounded children of Iraq.
“There have been hundreds if not thousands of children hurt in similar incidents,” Pogue said. “I hope that when people talk to her, they will ask about these other children who need help.”
Miller said he hopes Mizyad’s story will inspire others to bring Iraqi children to the United States for medical care.
Each of those children, he said, brings an important message about the “human face of collateral damage.”
“With the child comes the story of what happened to the child,” Miller said, “and we need to be paying attention to that because it’s our government doing it, and we’re responsible.”
This post was written by Cole Miller