UPDATE: Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project
IWP REPORT FOR MAY 2009
Veterans for Peace has
recently delivered its fortieth water treatment unit to an Iraqi institution
since this phase of the project commenced in 2006. Three Sterilights sent at the
end of April were installed at girls’ elementary schools in Abu Ghraib, west
of Baghdad, and Tharthar village near Samarra, and the third unit went to the
alAlskari shrine in Samarra.
This last site should jog
the memory of readers who are able to retain a long list of atrocities that
followed like vicious unleashed dogs the bootsteps of our country’s 2003
invasion of Iraq. The criminal destruction of this shrine in February 2006, by
alQaeda (?), touched off a critical mass explosion of sectarian violence that
has not spent itself yet. Shias throughout the world revere this site as the
burial place of Hasan alAskari, eleventh Imam and father of the long awaited
Mahdi, who will one day reappear on earth and establish everlasting peace and
justice. It is precisely this circumstance that set the mouths of the attackers
adrool. The beautiful building together with its minarets and gleaming golden
dome was nearly demolished.
That was then. Today the
resurrected building, still under scaffolding, is once more welcoming pilgrims.
Our Sterilight water unit, installed the first week of May, will supply these
pilgrims and other visitors with safe drinking water, and we are most grateful
for the opportunity to be part of this renewal. God grant that atrocities like
this monstrous bombing disappear into the past, that Iraq itself be resurrected,
independent, in possession of its own soil and resources, and free of
occupation. We insist the United States do its part to make this happen. Let the
pilgrims of alAskari have good water, let all Iraqis have their country back.
A few weeks prior to this
installation, we delivered three Sterilight units to a village of Misan Province
in the south of Iraq. Within this province are the remains of what were once
extensive marshlands, an area especially rich in history and inhabited by the
Ma’dan people, or Marsh Arabs. Their way of life, and particularly their
interesting bundled reed architecture, is as old and unchanged as anything in
all Mesopotamia, indeed on earth. Pictured here is a traditional tribal
guesthouse, or mudhif, which---excepting the ceiling fans and the IWP
water sterilizer---is identical to similar buildings portrayed in the earliest
Sumerian artworks, dating to 3000 BC and before. For 50 centuries the Ma’dan
people maintained a way of life based on fishing and cattle breeding, until
Saddam’s regime drove them out and destroyed their livelihoods by draining the
swamps. Marsh Arabs are Shia and the swamps provided cover for Saddam’s Shia
enemies. Only a small remnant of the swamplands remains, the rest is now desert
and probably irretrievably lost. As with the alAskari shrine, we were glad to
give a little help to people of such historical significance.
There is a small downside:
the Baghdad technician installing this unit and two others in a nearby school
and clinic, fell out of the boat, banged up his head and lost his camera in the
water. City people of Iraq are not notable sailors.
We have replaced the camera.
Additional work accomplished
since last report includes Sterilights installed at village clinics near Karbala
and Falluja, and in a girls’ school in the Yezidi city of Sinjar. Two units
were set up at an abandoned Iraqi military base at Kirkuk, which now serves as
an impoverished, almost functionless refugee encampment. The desolate scene of
this last site is a perfect metaphor for the folly and waste of military
overreach. Americans take note: this could be one day our
desperate citizens in one of our abandoned installations when we have
reduced ourselves to this condition. Perpetual all-spectrum dominance is
melting the credit card.
To top off the above, IWP is
also cooperating with Muslim Peacemaker Teams, Iraq. One co-op filtration unit
has been installed by MPT at an elementary school in Najaf, and another is on
the horizon. Funding for this work is the product of Dr Marcus Erickson’s
speaking engagements and bicycle tour of the west coast, Vancouver to San Diego.
Marcus, who holds a doctor’s degree in ocean science, recently sailed to
Hawaii and back aboard a wind driven junk created from plastic refuse,
his purpose to document and report the contamination of the entire North Pacific
Gyre with imperishable plastic detritus. Talk about a water project. And
now, accompanied by his fiancee, he is speaking to all who will listen about
what is happening to our oceans as a consequence of our squalid abundance. A
related topic of his talks is the dire water situation in Iraq. Money raised
through these events are conduited through our vfp project to Muslim Peacemaker
Teams and schools in the vicinity of Najaf, Iraq. Take a look at www.algalita.org
or www.junkraft.com if you would like to
learn more about Marcus and his interesting organization.
One last thing: Faiza
alAraji, our indispensable Iraqi water engineer friend and accomplice, has put
off her anticipated return to Baghdad. This is, for us at least, good news. Also
through Faiza’s contacts, we now have a way to purchase the Sterilight units
in Iraq itself, instead of Amman, as previously. The new way represent
considerable savings in transportation and border fee costs.
As always, on behalf of the project and the many Iraqis it serves, I thank all donors, supporters, and others interested in this work. And I especially want to thank the dedicated Iraqi technicians in country who often take considerable risks in carrying out the work of IWP. Iraq is still barely teetering on recovery, and as we are the invading and occupying power, our debt to its people will not go away. Ever.
Art Dorland, Chair, Iraq Water Project