Mohammed Back Home In Iraq

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

In a place where the news headlines are usually dominated by sadness, this headline is a happy one.

Thirteen-year-old Mohammed, who has spent the last year in mid-Michigan getting surgeries for burns all over his body, reunited with his mother at Iraq's Baghdad International Airport.

Just as emotional-- the goodbye he shares with Grand Ledge's Maj. David Howell, the man who made Mohammed's journey possible.

The home he returns to is Ramadi, Iraq, a place where, just days ago, dozens were killed in bomb blasts.

The home and friend he leaves behind are in mid-Michigan.

"It made me feel sad, you know. Nobody's going to make me laugh anymore," says Imaad Thasin, Mohammed's classmate in East Lansing.

We brought video of the reunion to Mohammed's fifth grade classmates at the Greater Lansing Islamic School. The typically outspoken group grows hushed as they watch their friend so far away.

"I felt happy for him," says classmate Yousuf Khalil. "I feel happy he reunited with his mom."

"It was hard. The good thing is he's with his mom, he's happy, he can start a new life," says classmate Sadiya Baahir.

For his English teacher Missy Reed, watching Mohammed's trip back is admittedly bittersweet. Mohammed returns to a life of both love from his family-- and violence in his country. His own father was killed by insurgents a few years back while working as a translator for the U.S. Marines.

"I can't imagine that life because I never had a life like that," Reed says. "It is hard. I hope he and his family are safe and stay safe and he grows into an amazing person, and the experiences he had will affect him for the rest of his life."

Howell says he is already looking into ways to bring Mohammed back to the U.S. for college.


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