Never Lost: Restoring Belonging to Iraqi Children

September 21, 2016


On 9/11, Mais Abousy joined over 3,000 people at the 9/11 Triathlon in the Nation’s Capital, biking 40K and running 10K.  She carried American and Iraqi flags to remind runners and bystanders that Iraqi children should never be forgotten.  Abousy’s young son and daughter ran the last few feet of the race with their mother and her daughter took over carrying the flags.  Because authorities declared the Potomac River too polluted for swimming in the triathlon, Abousy swam the 1500 meters in advance of 9/11 in nearby Lake Barcroft.

Mais Abousy’s “Never Lost” campaign raised $13,820 – 92 percent of her $15,000 goal – for Iraqi Children Foundation’s initiatives for orphans, street children, and kids displaced by violence.

“I was nearly 10 years old when my family fled Iraq,” said Abousy.  “There was no warning, no explanations, and no time for good byes.   Every sense of belonging was eradicated until we came and settled in the US.  The experience was traumatic and it took years to come to terms with it.   Looking back, school was my saving grace.  It was a place where I could hope freely for a better future.  With the support of family and friends, I have learned to cherish what Iraq gave me as a child and I am thankful to America for giving me a sense of belonging and providing me the opportunity to be who I am today.”

Abousy, an Iraqi-American mother and lawyer, dedicated her participation in the 9/11 Triathlon to the children who continue to suffer in Iraq.  According to UN sources, more than 1.5 million Iraqi children have been displaced after a decade of war and more than 2 years of brutal ISIS violence.  They have lost so much:  their sense of belonging and safety, loved ones, homes, and school friends.

“Like them, I was lost,” Abousy explained.  “And I have a message for them:  You are not forgotten.  You are never lost. You are loved and you belong, wherever you may be today.”

Funding raised by Abousy will go directly to help children return to school, get medical and trauma care, stop working on the streets, and provide protection from criminals, human traffickers, and extremists.

The Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF) is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charity that intervenes with love and hope in the lives of Iraqi children at great risk from extremists, criminals, human traffickers, abuse, and neglect.  For more information, contact

Cindy Fogleman