Iraq: Assif Muhammad, Iraq "I have lost everything"

BAGHDAD, 8 May 2007 (IRIN) - Asif Muhammad, a 32-year-old engineer, says he is desperately looking for help for his child who is suffering from cancer. A widower since his wife was killed a year ago in a Baghdad explosion, he is trying to survive and take care of his only child, seven-year-old daughter Maysoon.

Muhammad has no money and two months ago was sacked, he says, because of his sect. Now looking for a job and treatment for his daughter, Muhammad said he has to save her life because after losing his wife he cannot bear to lose his daughter. Should he lose her, he says, he would prefer to die.

"I'm in a critical situation. I don't have money for my daughter's treatment. She was recently diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas. Government hospitals lack medicines and I cannot buy from private pharmacies because the prices are astronomical.

"I have looked for help from an NGO but they don't hand out medicines and with each day it is proving more difficult to get a job because of the sectarian violence.

"I was a perfect employee, doing my job responsibly and respectfully but two months ago people in the office started to disagree with my decisions, especially when I failed to approve some projects which weren't good enough. As they were mostly Shi'a, they put pressure on my boss to sack me - without explanation or compensation for my three years of service.

"I rent my house and I don't know how I will continue to pay the rent. If I don't get a job I will be forced to leave and look for a displacement camp where I can stay with my daughter.

"She was always the jewel of my life"

"Ghadah, my 29-year-old wife who was killed last year, was an amazing partner. She was always the jewel of my life. She was food-shopping when a car exploded near the market taking her life and those of dozens of other innocent people.

"I have lost everything and cannot lose the only remaining thing in my life. I have to save Maysoon but I'm getting desperate because she doesn't know that her problem is so critical and that without proper treatment she could die any time. She smiles all the time and this makes me more sad and distressed.

"We live in a Sunni district of the capital which has been the scene of fighting and sectarian violence.

"I will keep looking for a job and treatment for Maysoon and God will help me, I'm sure. Life in Iraq has become chaotic because people have lost faith in each other as never before.

"During Saddam Hussein's regime, people would have collected money and tried to buy the medicines for my child, but today when you ask for help or even a loan, they just say they have too much on their minds to think of saving the life of a stranger."