Giving others a voice

 Vanessa Denha Garmo

Vanessa Denha Garmo

     I sat at a Panera Bread holding back tears listening to Raad Kathawa talk about his daughter. Those who know him, I’m sure you don’t often see the side of him I did on this morning. He was a dad very much still in pain.
     I have tormented myself these passed two months. After working on a cover story about moms mourning the loss of their children, I sat down with Raad over iced tea, talking about Lindsay who passed away more than 30 years ago.
     Raad has asked Martin, Mike and me several times to write a story about St. Jude Hospital and it almost became expected every time we saw him.
     We fully intended to but the timing never seemed right, until now. Those who know Raad, know the boisterous and serious business man and community doer. Few will see the father who still walks around with a broken heart. I sat at the restaurant after our meeting for two more hours, writing his story and wiping my tears.
     I usually like to write about my own dad and husband during the month of June as we honor dads but instead, I share the story of one man who finds ways to make room in his life for a daughter who left this world before she even entered school.
     We reached out to a few other dads in similar situations but no one else wanted to share their story. So perhaps Raad represents them all and is the voice of dads who will never forget their deceased children. I want to thank Lauren Kathawa for offering input with the article.
     This issue touches on a few stories tied into having a voice. Our cover story is a two-part piece regarding Iraq.
     In this issue we share the story of Chaldeans who expressed their voice in the Iraqi elections. Monique Mansour talked to Shoki Konja and others about Iraq.
    Ashournia Slewo gives an update on the deportation story in two articles. In one she explains the 212C Waiver and what that means.
    She also pens an updated piece on those detained one year later. This past year many people spoke up to help Christian Iraqis living in America who were picked up and held in jail as they fought against being deported.
    Much has happened this past year and we continue to cover the story.
    We also address a very sensitive subject that we have written about before but this time it is from the voices of twin brothers who have written two books about being gay. We are fully aware of the Church’s teachings on homosexuality and I encourage all of you to understand the teachings on this issue. We are in no means condoning the act of homosexuality; we are merely sharing their struggles about being gay. We share this story because it is a reality in the world, including in our own Chaldean community, and it still one that is often very difficult to address.
    Some people may not agree that we gave the twins our platform to express their voice by sharing their story and their book. I get it. I know it is a very controversial topic and expect various opinions about us discussing it. We may not agree with each other and that is okay but we should not be so closed off that we don’t allow others to have a voice.