Many of you probably saw the CBS news report over the past couple of nights regarding a scene that was so shocking that it even stunned soldiers hardened by trial and conflict – naked, listless, emaciated Iraqi orphans lying unattended in their own excrement while covered in flies and tied to cribs on a concrete floor. Meanwhile, in the adjoining kitchen of this government orphanage in Baghdad, three ‘caretakers’ were cooking themselves a hearty meal while the twenty-four special needs children were starving to death in the next room.

Even more troubling is that the orphanage storeroom was well stocked with food and brand-new clothes, yet the staff was allegedly selling these items to local markets instead of providing them to the children.

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Sadly, it’s just another example of the exploitation and abuse that can occur in government-run orphanages, especially those in poverty, disease and war-ravaged countries where accountability is non-existent and corruption is extreme. It also serves as a good illustration as to why Mike and I are traveling to Iraq next week to put into motion the establishing of church-based homes there. This is why it is worth the risk. This is why the Church is the only answer. This is why we want to help her.

Rather than re-telling this current story, I’ll let the photos and quotes speak for themselves. Please pray that our work next week can help rescue many from similar circumstances or futures.

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"They thought they were all dead, so they threw a basketball to try and get some attention, and actually one of the kids lifted up their head, tilted it over and just looked and then went back down."

– Staff Sgt. Mitchell Gibson

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"I saw children that you could see literally every bone in their body that were so skinny, they had no energy to move whatsoever, no expression on their face"

– Staff Sgt. Michael Beale

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"The kids were tied up, naked, covered in their own waste – feces – and there were three people that were cooking themselves food, but nothing for the kids"

– Lt. Stephen Duperre

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"There was a boy with thousands of flies covering his body, unable to move any part of his body. We had to actually hold his head up and tilt his head to make sure that he was OK, and the only thing basically that was moving was his eyeballs."

– Staff Sgt. Mitchell Gibson

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"There were hundreds (of flies) in his open mouth. They were crawling out of his nose and ears and anywhere they could feed on his flesh and bloody, open sores from sleeping on the concrete, in what appeared to be the last few hours of his life."

– Staff Sgt. Mitchell Gibson

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"The smell was so bad, that you could smell it from outside in the street. It even overpowered the smell of the food cooking in the kitchen."

– Anonymous soldier 

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"How could you take the most vulnerable children and subject them to such torture?"

– Lara Logan, CBS Correspondent

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"Two women working there posed for pictures in front of the naked boys as if there was nothing wrong."

– Lara Logan

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"I can only imagine they (the caretakers) thought this was absolutely normal. Or that these special needs boys, who could not talk or communicate properly, were not human to them."

– Lara Logan

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"Violence is creating widows and orphans on a daily basis, many of whom are left to struggle for survival. Iraq’s children, already casualties of a quarter of a century of conflict and deprivation, are being caught up in a rapidly worsening humanitarian tragedy."

– UNICEF