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Award of Excellence
Sylwia Kapuscinski The Detroit Free Press
"Nursing Home in Baghdad"

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There is only one nursing home in Baghdad, a city of 5 million people. The Shamayea Nursing Home, opened in the 1930s, accepts all Iraqis based on what many residents say, it is their home of last resort. The nursing home cares for people without families or whose families have abandoned them. There are 44 women and 73 men in the home, and one nurse. About one in five residents has dementia and about one in 10 is incontinent. They live in 27 rooms ranging in size from four feet by six feet to nine feet by 24 feet. Residents are fed three meals and one snack daily. They socialize, but it is rare for a resident to have a visitor. The odor of gasoline permeates the home because workers use a mix of gasoline with water as a cleaning agent. There are few cleaning supplies, or medicines. The war's aftermath has kept better workers away because the home is on the fringe of Baghdad in an area not considered secure. Most residents are forlorn and forgotten. Ganeya Shnawa, 60, lives with 7 women in one room. Her husband and three children were killed in the 1991 Gulf War when a missile hit her house, she says.``I feel well here,'' she says. ``I don't have nobody to go to, that's why I came here.'' Caption: Badreya Muhamad, 70, right, stands in the hallway at a nursing home in Baghdad on Monday, March 15, 2004. Muhamad's daughters' husbands didn't want Muhamad to live with them because she is unable to take care of herself.


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