Over six weeks in Iraq, Myra Saad and I worked with sixteen groups of boys and girls, well over 200 children and 400 drawings. I’d be lying if I said that I could remember them all clearly without reviewing documentation of the sessions. It’s just too chaotic, too emotionally draining to take everything in. Yet there are some children that I’ll never forget. Among them is the girl that shared this account. She came home after spending the day at her grandmother’s to discover that her father, mother, and sister had all been executed by ISIS. She showed very specifically where each had been shot, where the blood was coming from. She drew herself crying at the sight of them in the remains of their home. What she lived through is beyond comprehension, but it’s not what made her so memorable. As heartbreaking as this is to say, her story of losing her family wasn’t uncommon. What makes her stand out was that even after sharing the drawing (or perhaps because of it), she was energized and had a beaming smile. When asked what she hoped for in the future, she said she wanted to be Myra. The girl left the session with the rest of the children, then immediately returned to give her a giant hug. Myra still refers to her as “our girl in the purple dress,” so I know she feels the same as me. The resilience in these children amazes me to my core. It pains me to know what they have been through, but as evidenced by this girl, there is hope still. #wartoys #iraqichildren #isis #toys #toyphotography

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