Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Iran Quake: Six Year Old Amir's Family Is Gone

‘I lie and then I cry’

The story of an orphan amid the destruction and death in Iran

By Dean Owen (WVUS Public Relations Director) With reports from John Schenk, WVI Communications Manager

BAM, Iran (January 1, 2004) -- Six –year-old Amir, a young boy with shaggy dark hair and wide, deep-set chestnut-colored eyes, was sleeping alongside his mother, father and sister in a small bedroom early Friday morning, December 26, when the earth shook violently.

Within moments, his house was demolished, his father and sister were dead, and his mother severely injured. Three hours later, still needing medical attention, Amir’s mother collapsed.

“She died in front of my own eyes,” Amir’s maternal grandmother, who has become the child’s surrogate parent, tells John Schenk, World Vision International Communications Manager.

Six days later, this child, whom the grandmother describes as “really naughty,” stares blankly into the wall of a canvas tent in front of the pile of dust and rubble that used to be his home. “He has a stunned, faraway look in his eyes,” Schenk says.

“He has nightmares and he talks to himself in a whisper, it’s not clear what is saying,” Amir’s grandmother tells Schenk. “And when he does talk to me, he asks about his parents. He thinks they both are still in the hospital”

Schenk remarks that the grandmother paused for a moment, looked at her grandson, then turned back to him and said in a low voice: “I have no answers for his questions, I don’t know what to say.

“I lie and then I cry.”

The grandmother tells Schenk that the 6.7 earthquake rocked her home three to four kilometers away and, after accounting for her other daughter living with her, “had a funny feeling” about her other daughter, Amir’s mother. She walked in the early morning cold to Amir’s home and immediately heard her daughter crying for help.

Some neighbors helped her pry Amir’s mother from the rubble. She was injured and needed to be hospitalized immediately. There were no cars on the streets nearby, let alone an ambulance. “Then, I heard a weak voice asking for water,” the grandmother told Schenk.

It was Amir.

Amir is one of more than 1,200 orphans the Iranian government knows of – so far – who have lost parents in the devastating quake, according to The New York Times. Many of those children are in an orphanage in Kerman, about 110 kilometers north of Bam, which was visited Wednesday by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

Schenk, a veteran of numerous international crises – from the Ethiopia famine in the mid-1980’s to the Gujarat earthquake in India in 2001 - believes it will take Bam and the surrounding community many months to rebuild the homes and other facilities that were lost.

“The city looks like it received a direct hit of artillery fire,” Schenk says. “Bam reminds me of Beirut at the end of Lebanon’s 16-year civil war.”

World Vision is not just going to drop in relief supplies and leave, he says. “We are looking at this relief effort for the long haul and will stay until the job is finished.”

Schenk accompanied a World Vision airlift into Iran on December 31which included more than 14,000 blankets and other relief supplies totaling about a quarter million dollars (U.S.). In Bam, he said, there are humanitarian workers from several countries, including the United States, which severed diplomatic relations in Iran after that nation’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.

“I met people from Ireland, Australia and many other places,” Schenk says. “Many, many nations are represented here, helping to address the incredible need.”

  • If you would like to donate to help children like amire, phone 0800 80 2000
    for the World Vision NZ Bam earthquake relief appeal.

  • © Scoop Media

    Top Scoops Headlines


    Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

    Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

    Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

    The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



    Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

    It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


    Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

    Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

    Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

    Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

    Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

    I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

    Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

    It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


    Get More From Scoop

    Top Scoops
    Search Scoop  
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news