Iraqi boy blinded by gunfire granted asylum

Iraqi boy blinded by gunfire granted asylum
SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- More than two years after his journey in the U.S. began, an Iraqi boy blinded by insurgent gunfire can now call Western Washington home.

On Monday, 5-year-old Hamoody Jauda and his foster mom, Julie Smith, got a call informing them that the U.S. government had granted asylum to the young boy.

"I was jumping up and down," Smith said. "It was just a really, really joyous day."

The good news came three years after Sunni insurgents ambushed Hamoody and his family outside Baghdad. His uncle was killed, his aunt seriously wounded, and Hamoody lost his right eye and lost sight in the other.

With the help of the Healing the Children organization, Hamoody's parents sent him to the U.S. for treatment and reconstructive surgery. Smith said she had to seek asylum for the boy after doctors determined that he'd never see again.

"In Iraq as a Muslim, there's a real stigma for blindness and he would be shunned, be the lowest of the social status," she said. "He would never be able to go to school."

Smith called Hamoody's family and they agreed to keep him in Snohomish.

Hamoody talks to his family in Iraq once a week, and he plans to visit them in a few years. But right now he's learning to type braille and having fun being a kid.

Smith says doctors will have to monitor Hamoody for years. He has a prosthetic left eye and will get the same surgery for his right eye when he is 7 years old.