Ziyad Kareem was standing in the kitchen of his restaurant in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah district, talking to his chef on the morning of Nov. 10., as three customers ate in the dining area.
Then a nearby car bomb exploded.
“Two of my customers were killed and one of my workers was killed (in the attack),” said Kareem.
There were five civilians killed and 37 injured that day; many businesses were damaged, and Kareem’s restaurant was one of the businesses that was destroyed.
Kareem, along with other business owners, went to Combat Outpost Apache to request a microgrant from Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers Nov. 18 to help them rebuild their businesses.
“If we can help the businesses get back to normal, return a sense of normalcy to the population and help them get back on their feet after these cowards come and blew up their businesses … it will help improve the security here in Adhamiyah and progress here in Baghdad,” said Capt. Patrick Soule, commander of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, which is currently attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
The microgrant program is funded by the Coalition Forces with the aim of helping local businesses prosper by giving them up to $5,000 in capital to improve their businesses.
“Some businesses obviously had more damage than others. Not everybody will be getting the same amount of money,” said Soule, a native of Pearland, Texas, told the assembled crowd.”I understand for the businesses that were severely damaged it may not be enough to completely cover your loss.”
One by one, the businessmen came forward, signed the necessary paperwork and received their grants.
For 13 years, Abu Ahmed owned and operated a restaurant near Kareem’s and employed 15 people; it too was also destroyed by the blast. He said he intends to use his grant to help him rebuild.
“I have to,” said Ahmed. “It’s the only job (I have) to feed my family.”
In addition to having his business destroyed, Ahmed’s parent’s house was also damaged in the attack.
“This attack, the terrorists did it. They destroyed our country, our people,” said Ahmed. “The people work hard to make some money for their families.”
When it was Kareem’s turn to sign the paperwork, he was visibly grateful.
“(We) understand that you guys didn’t have to do that (the micro grant),” said Kareem, shaking Soule’s hand. “We appreciate it.”