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Inside an Iraqi orphanage

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Children of dead militants or suicide attackers and those of victims are peacefully living together in a Baghdad orphanage.  (Source: CNN) Children of dead militants or suicide attackers and those of victims are peacefully living together in a Baghdad orphanage. (Source: CNN)
Oprhanage founder, Liqaa Al-Aboudi, believes that the only way Iraqis can build a future together is if the children learn to coexist. (Source: CNN) Oprhanage founder, Liqaa Al-Aboudi, believes that the only way Iraqis can build a future together is if the children learn to coexist. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) – An orphanage in Baghdad is giving a glimpse of hope in the midst of violence.

Children of dead militants or suicide attackers and those of victims are peacefully living together after their lives were torn apart.

Luay is 7-years-old and has never been told how his father died. His mother thinks it’s better that way.

Walaa is 6-years-old and has no memories of her father, only that there was a loud noise the night he died.

Hajer’s father was a policeman. She remembers him a little. He was gunned down on the street by their home seven years ago.

At the Al Nour Children’s Center in Baghdad, it’s a roll call of loss and fractured lives.

It is here that children of victims of terror attacks are brought bringing with them tales of horror.

"Layla, Zahraa, their brother and sister were found playing around the bodies of their parents after both were killed in a terrorist attack here Sadr city. Zahraa has just turned one-year-old and she's being looked after at the orphanage."

As the violence in Iraq begins to spiral again, more and more children are being brought to Al Nour

But it’s not just to the children of the victims that Al Nour opens its doors. Some, like 11-year-old Bandar, have parents suspected of perpetrating attacks.

The center director Liqaa Al-Aboudi believes the only way Iraqis can build a future together is if the children of both murderer and victim learn to coexist.

They are all orphans to us, she said.

Most of the staff are unpaid. They, like Al-Aboudi , give their time for free.

They want the world to see that the children of monsters are still children. And there is hope for them and for the country.

Al-Aboudi’s husband was killed in a terror attack. She says it made her want to do something with her life.

"I took in 10 orphans in the beginning, I started the center for them and brought in teachers and now by the will of God we have 300 orphans," Al-Aboudi said.

The orphanage houses some children and supports the aunts, grandmothers, cousins and neighbors that have stepped in to help raise the rest.

As the numbers of Iraq’s dead swell, this is becoming an all too familiar story.

"Do you ever feel overwhelmed?" CNN reporter Nima Elbagir said.

"Yes,” Al-Aboudi said. “Often I feel I let the children down. I wish we could provide even more"

Al-Aboudi hopes Al Nour will always be a refuge from the horror that lies outside its doors.

But nothing in Iraq is for certain.

Even if one day, she herself, falls victim to the violence, she says she believes her children, as she calls them. will carry on her work.

They know how important it is, she says, to build unity, whatever the cost.

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