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Website update for December, 2018

It is the beginning of Christmas season as this is written, and American families are emptying out bank balances in the tiresome purchase of obligatory gifts. But along with almost two thousand years of Christmas seasons, we have had a parallel two thousand years of wretched, miserable, annihilating, repetitive warfare over the entire blighted world, sparing virtually no one. Will it never end?

If you are reading or watching news, you have before you a generous selection of stories about current wars and threats of war. Some of this may even involve us Americans, imagine. Reaching back a couple of decades, you will recollect successive invasions by US military forces of a faraway country called Iraq, an invasion carried out under political justifications that seem, to say the least, vaguely inadequate. A huge amount of damage, whether deliberate or not, was done to that country and its luckless people by our political and military actions. We bring all this up to suggest a small way you yourself in this Christmas season might personally help unfortunates of that war-wrecked country.

Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project was created many years ago to help address the disastrous absence of clean water throughout that nation, one of the legacies of US Iraq policy. Contaminated water hospitalized thirty thousand people this summer in Basra alone and scarcely any part of Iraq has accessible clean water. Many of the hospitals themselves lack decent water. In past years our project has placed 170 small treatment units, ultraviolet and reverse osmosis, in Iraqi institutions, primarily clinics and schools. We are the fundraising arm here in the states; the actual work is undertaken by cooperating NGOs on the ground in Iraq, that is, by Iraqis themselves. To the extent possible additional money is sent into Iraq for maintenance and repair of previously installed water filters.

Out of compulsive honesty, we have to acknowledge that not all this effort is successful; we do have failures. Anyone insisting on a guarantee his donation will be without risk needs to look somewhere else. Iraq is unstable and downright dangerous in many areas in contrast to what the Polyanna war hawks predicted back when. Whatever the rationale, US policy annihilated a functioning government that had once at least minimally taken care of its population. Then we came. You know who I mean by “we”.

But irrespective of the moral purpose of IWP, that is, whether it is seen as a humanitarian gesture or a form of reparation, at least some Iraqis some of the time have access to clean potable water once one of our units finds its way to a school or clinic.

Since last report (Feb 2018) IWP has accomplished the following: our friends in Nasiriya drove up to Baghdad to install reverse osmosis units in two local schools, alSarmed (mixed boys and girls) and Yafa school for girls. The first of these school, alSarmed is in a very poor neighborhood of Baghdad, yet its dedicated staff somehow managed to raise money for an extensive refurbishment of the building and for other improvements. We were very glad to help out by providing clean water. Extra filters were left at each of these schools.

The same Nasiriya installers repaired 14 previously placed units at 8 sites. (Not all of these were IWP installations---go where the need is greatest.) We also extended our monthly maintenance program for another year at 5 schools in Najaf. This business of maintenance---caring for the puppy after you bring it home—is a very important part of the work, less “glamorous” than the initial placements, and you don’t get a lot of impressive action photos. It is also plenty difficult in the chaotic conditions of contemporary Iraq. We are entirely mindful of the need.

In the coming year IWP hopes to struggle over and around the obstacles and continue its work, however small. This brings us back to Christmas. Can you help us help them?  Much more information is available here on the website, and you will note a donation button for credit card use. Checks made out to Iraq Water Project can be mailed to Veterans for Peace, 1404 North Broadway, St Louis MO 63102.

Thanks for your attention, and---contribution or not---please keep the luckless people of Iraq in your thoughts during this Christmas season and beyond.                                                                                                      

--Art Dorland, Chair, Iraq Water Project, Veterans For Peace