As we wind down the series, we are making some changes to the final episodes. They are getting much better. We’re combining previous versions of the final pieces and now they work a lot better. As a result, they will be a bit longer and, as previously reported, there are fewer of them. Due to these changes, we’re altering the release schedule a bit. New episodes will now come out every Monday and Thursday.
In this video, we see Saif’s brother Mohammad who, as you may recall, was profiled in a short documentary on Youtube (not produced by us). Check it out here - Homeless. It reveals his experience as an exile, a life that his brother, our Saif, is now beginning. Saif’s life in Baghdad is done for now. But he is embarking on a whole new set of struggles and dangers. I think that the experience of Iraqi exiles is another story that desperately needs to be told.
“Mentally F’ed Up” is without a doubt one of the saddest episodes of Hometown Baghdad. In that episode, Adel interviews his brother and cousin about a horrible murder they witnessed in the street near their house. His last thought in the video is fear for their mental stability. Turns out, nearly all of Baghdad’s children are suffering from great mental stress. From NPR:
A new study in Iraq surveyed 2,500 kids, randomly chosen from a middle-income area of north Baghdad, to see if researchers could determine the effects of the war on their mental health. Dr. Mohammed al-Aboudi, Iraq’s national mental health adviser, speaks with Linda Wertheimer about the findings.
Sorry for the bad news…but we’ve decided to cut the final episode count from 45 to 38. We had to do it for a variety of reasons that aren’t totally important - scheduling, storytelling efficiency, etc. Whatever the reasons are, I think the remaining episodes are really powerful and that they will be a fitting close to the series.
I also want to say that being a part of this series has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. The friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime. And the emotional impact of being so close to this project and the people involved will be with me for a while. I may work for Chat the Planet and I may be part of the team that produced Hometown Baghdad, but I’ve also been an avid viewer of HTB. And watching Adel, Ausama and Saif live their incredible lives has moved me and taught me more than I can say. I am truly sad that in a few weeks there will be no new web videos.
But that’s not to say that Hometown Baghdad is done. Chat the Planet is just getting started. And this website will continue to exist in some form or another. Once there are no new videos, I am planning on doing a bit of a rehaul of the site. I want to have it make sense for a series that exists online in its entirety rather than looking like a defunct blog. I will still add content to it and hopefully Saif, Adel and Ausama will continue to tell us where and how they are. But the blog format probably won’t be so front and center. I’m thinking forums, a more user friendly episode guide, and a bit more background material. But mostly I’m thinking I want to know what others think. So feel free to post your thoughts in the comments or send me emails.
IMPORTANT: I just found what I consider a gold mine filled with gold mines. It is a blog that chronicles the emerging Iraqi blogosphere. It links to an incredible amount of blogs written by Iraqis both in Iraq and in exile. They aren’t afraid to give their own thoughts but they don’t censor the voices they don’t agree with. It represents everything that is great about this new era of citizen journalism. Anyone with even a passing interest in Iraq could get lost among these links for hours. They link everyone from my old favorite Healing Iraq to HTB viewer Konfused Kid to an unabashedly sectarian blog (speaking of which, there is an interesting defense of sectarianism on that blog). Also, as a devout beer enthusiast, I was completely intrigued by this guide to drinking beer in Baghdad. Forgive me if I never post any more videos here because I’m too busy reading all these blogs….
I know a few people saw us on NBC News. Can someone post in the comments what the story was like? Here at Chat the Planet we didn’t get to see it. Also, we have been getting some press in countries all over the world. Poland, Brazil, Denmark, etc. If anyone can snap pictures of themselves holding articles about us a la me and my colleague, I’ll be sure to post them.
Syria has been a refuge for Iraqis fleeing their dangerous homeland since the war began. Life as a refugee there can be incredibly difficult but hopefully things will start getting a bit better. In today’s episode, we get to experience what Syria is like from Adel’s Iraqi perspective. Though throughout his visit, Adel knows that he must return to Baghdad.
For a peak at Iraqi refugees in Syria, watch this.
We have seen Saif say goodbye to so many of his friends. Now, he is nearly alone in Baghdad.
A couple more great stories on Hometown Baghdad are coming out in the upcoming days. Wolf Blitzer’s crew from CNN was at our offices this morning and a story on us will air (in the US only) at around 7pm EST on the Situation Room. On Sunday, the Today Show Weekend Edition is doing a story on us. (Again - only in the US.) Special thanks to Zeyad from Healing Iraq for chatting with NBC about Hometown Baghdad.