By Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray
Regimental Combat Team - 5
ANAH, Iraq – Parents rarely expect their children to be born with a debilitating birth-defect, so when the parents of Balquis Rajib Ascar discovered her inability to walk, they were a bit unprepared.
Instead of running and playing outside, Balquis, now six, had to be carried everywhere by her family in their hometown of Anah, Iraq. That situation changed recently, however, because of the caring of one Marine, who has made great improvement in Balquis' quality of life.
Cpl. Michael A. Goodman, mortar section leader with the Warlords of Company E, Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5, discovered Balquis' disability and has since devoted his off-duty time to assisting the little girl and her family. Coordinating with his wife, a nurse in Georgetown, Ohio, Goodman arranged for Co. E to present Balquis with a custom-built wheelchair July 12, 2008.
"Iraq's future is dependent on its children," Goodman said. "I saw it as a good opportunity to give back to the Iraqi people, since Iraq doesn't have any kind of children's hospital set up yet. I had access to this resource, so why not help?"
Working together, Goodman and his wife coordinated with a representative from a corporation specializing in custom wheelchairs. The company agreed to make one just the right size for Balquis.
"My wife talked to the head nurse at her hospital and got the number to the wheelchair company," Goodman said. "The company needed the girl's dimensions, so we had to get in contact with the family. This enabled the best fit possible for the girl, leaving her some room to grow.
After Goodman made the arrangements, the package was on its way to Anah. When the chair arrived, Goodman and the Marines he leads presented it as a gift from the whole Company E mortar section to the Ascar family at the local Iraqi police station.
"I felt a sense of accomplishment," Goodman said. "They were shocked someone actually reacted to the needs of their child. All I had to do was give a little, and I was sure we would get a lot in return."
In doing this charitable deed, Goodman not only brought joy to a local Iraqi family, but also set an example for the Marines with whom he works.
"He showed his dedication to the Corps and our goal of seeing a better future in Iraq," said Lance Cpl. Caleb B. Drury, a machine gunner with Co. E, from Burlington, Vt. "Bringing the chair shows a sign of peace and goodwill and that we are not just here to fight a war. We are here to help the Iraqi people. He is a selfless leader."
After getting used to the chair, little Balquis could be seen making her way around Anah. Not long ago the riverside town was a war zone; it is now moving toward peace and prosperity.
It is commonly said that one Marine's actions represent the entire Marine Corps. Through Goodman's efforts one family will surely remember his good deeds and know Marines not only as the war fighters they have seen in the past, but as generous and kind people.