City of ghosts
It's hard to imagine a bloodbath, it's hard
to imagine war
Abadan is a small town built
by the British on one of the largest oil reservoir in Iran.
considered the most beautiful city in the country, but that was
before the Iran-Iraq war. I had only seen pictures of that Abadan,
now it no longer looks like the pictures I had seen.
many years have passed since the war, still there are many buildings
bearing evidence of enemy artillery. Also evident is the art
deco architecture used in many of the houses and some buildings.
There are still lines of Miami-esque style houses that once belonged
to English and American personnel stationed here.
is still the same: the poor are still poor and they all have
the same complaint, they live in the richest part of Iran
they have never benefited from oil revenues. Today Abadan
has the highest
number runaway girls in the country and is only second
to Tehran in the number of orphaned children.
Last time I wrote we
Khorramabad. From there we drove north to Boroujerd,
then west to Kermanshah.
There, in our hotel dining room I met a few UNHCR
personnel on their way to the refugee camps at the Iraqi border.
That was before
the State of the Union speech by President Bush
over a week after the anti-war demonstrations. Yet they
what is about to come.
As I sit in my hotel room
looking across Arvad Rud (Shat al Arab) toward Iraqi territory
less than a
hundred meters away, I cannot help but imagine what might happen
in a couple
of weeks. How their fate is separated from ours only
live on the wrong side of the river. But then again
maybe there isn't a wrong side and it's only a matter of
I look at the palm trees on both sides swinging
in the wind, it's hard to imagine a bloodbath, it's hard to
imagine war. If their
lives were at all similar to their neighbors
the river, it's too difficult to fathom they
have yet to
through another war.
In our journey we have visited
extraordinary children fighting against all odds to avoid
becoming another victim of poverty, just like everyone else they
community in deep poverty on the outskirts
of Kermanshah, we were
mobbed by single mothers begging for us to
rescue their children.
One woman threw herself in front of our
shoved her daughter's report card and identification
papers under our
Her daughter's name was Zahra and she had
all A's. Today we were filming in a public bath in the center
of Abadan. Once
a famous bathhouse, it's been out of business
three years. Fatemeh was nine-months old when her mom
got a job as
a bath attendant and keeper.
an older sister, they
in one of the bath stalls. Finally
last year The Child
Foundation helped Fatemeh find a sponsor.
The sponsor has helped her family
rent a little home and pays them a
I am still shaken by the conditions in which
lived. I could not
there for a week, Fatemeh was raised
there since before she
Lot's of love,
This piece was written in February 2003 while
filming "Golrizan" --
before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.