Mustafa Al-Tameemi runs, jumps, bounces on a trampoline and plays computer games just like a typical 8-year old. The difference is that Mustafa has but one leg and a severely injured foot on it. Mustafa was a happy 7 year old boy living in Najaf, Iraq in October, 2009 when a high voltage power line (a legacy of the US destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure including the power grid) crashed into his home and set it afire severely burning Mustafa. The weakened Iraq medical system did what it could, but his right leg was amputated below the knee, two toes were removed from his burned left foot and his left arm was severely burned. The Iraq medical system was another casualty of the US war and was limited in what it could do. Sadly, Mustafa is but one of the perhaps million Iraqi civilian casualties.
Why is Mustafa in Minnesota? He’s here to receive proper medical care for his left arm, leg and foot, and to be fitted with a prosthetic right leg. Sami Rasouli, an Iraqi-American, once owner of Sinbad’s Restaurant on Nicollet Avenue, is now residing in Najaf, Iraq, his original home. Sami returned to Iraq in 2003, after the Iraq war started. He organized Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Iraq to further the cause of peace. He established a sister city relationship with Minneapolis and Najaf, and he returns to Minneapolis every year to plead the cause of peace and for support of the Iraqi citizenry. Sami set up the arrangements to bring Mustafa to Minneapolis.
Mustafa and his mother Shayma Hasan are here as a result of humanitarian efforts by St. Joan of Arc Church, The Mayo Clinic, Shriners Hospital for Children and Gillette Hospital. All are contributing money and services to make possible Mustafa’s rehabilitation. St. Joan Parishioners have committed to support Mustafa and family for an extended period. As a growing boy, he will need a new leg every year.
Winter in Minnesota is a cultural shock for Mustafa and Shayma, neither of whom speak much English. Host families provide a nurturing, and warm, home for them, presence of similar age kids and yes, computer games.
Editors note: St. Joan of Arc Church is accepting donations to help pay for Mustafa’s medical bills.