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UPDATE:  Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project                                                                                       

IWP REPORT FOR APRIL 2010 

Since the previous November 2009 report, Iraq Water Project has continued placing our 8 gallon per minute ultraviolet sterilizers in various Iraqi institutions. We have also had a probable failure at one location, more of that later.

Following the established trajectory of serving prisons and pilgrim shrines, in January our Iraqi technician team installed a unit at Diyala Central Prison, east of Baghdad, and another at Balad shrine, near Samarra. Balad will probably be the last shrine for a while, as some Iraqis may pick up a scent of religious favoritism, a suspicion we feverishly wish to avoid. A third unit in January was placed at a home for the elderly in Baghdad.

In March the team made installations at clinics in Dijail (the town where Saddamís retaliatory massacre of citizens provided the legal basis---or pretext---for his execution), and Ramadi.

A few weeks later clinics at Kirkuk, Hilla, Kut and Chikuk received Sterilight systems, one apiece.

Thanks to IWP cooperation with Muslim Peacemaker Teams, whose own technician made the installation, a new reverse osmosis water treatment system is now improving the lives of students at alHiwariyoon school in Najaf. VFP member and ocean scientist Dr Marcus Erickson raised all but $122 of the cost for this installation as part of his speaking engagements in California. We tossed in the rest. Thank you Senior Patriots Against the War and Beyond War International, addressed by Marcus, for your member contributions to this unit placement.     

Repairs to a couple of previously installed Sterilights were made by the IWP techs during this period. This is an aspect of the project that needs some repair of its own, as follow up on the sterilizers after placement is incumbent upon us wherever possible and surely most appreciated by recipients. Itís not as easy as it looks, though. Security conditions, for one thing, are highly unstable and downright dangerous in much of the country, a limiting factor affecting placement from the outset. For another, contact can be lost with personnel responsible at the institutions, and the units themselves lost due to theft. Transportability of Sterilight is one of its advantages, but at the same time an unavoidable disadvantage, since due to its small size it can be transported out almost as conveniently as in, if there is insufficient local security. We have been reconciled from the beginning that some of this will take place, and until the country is restored to stability, there is no simple remedy. You either put up with the uncertainties or you stop working.

The possible failure mentioned at the outset involves a unit we sent to Rutba Hospital in western Iraq. Because of a very affecting story about this clinic and its neighborhood, Rutba seemed like an ideal place for our project to get involved. The unit arrived after a journey over a dangerous stretch of highway, but for a number of reasons unforeseen it was not installed. The local water, it turns out, is highly saline, and Sterilight does not perform well in salty water. There were further misunderstandings, too complex for inclusion here, and so the assignment gets an undistinguished grade in this instance. But as our literature emphasizes, anyone wishing to donate their money to a guaranteed, risk free project needs to look somewhere else. We are a small organization of volunteers, not paid professionals, we work with a limited budget and once in a while things screw up. All the same, in context we think we are doing a better job than the $$multi-bijillion US reconstruction project you have heard so much about. Furthermore, if we step out of this work we donít see anybody lining up to take our place.

Conversely and encouragingly, several Veterans for Peace chapters have raised significant sums of money for Iraq Water Project, and it is especially gratifying to get this support and reinforcement from within. A very special contribution was sent from Alaska by one of our members in the name of Ali Kinani, the nine year old boy gunned down by Blackwater in the ugly Nisoor Square incident back in September 2007. See the Jeremy Scahill article in the past February 22 Nation to learn more about this child and his fatherís search for justice.

Happily and sincerely we also thank the Sager Family Foundation for continued support.

And the same gratitude from our project committee, together with the many people we try to help, to all who have kept our little boat afloat these past ten years and moving through the choppy waves.

 

Art Dorland, Chair, Iraq Water Project