UPDATE: Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project
I wish to begin this current report with an email I just received from Faiza alAraji, Iraqi water engineer and our project’s principal unpaid officer on the Iraqi side of the operation. (Except for modest sums to technicians, no one is paid. We are volunteers.) For those of you new to this website you should know that Iraq Water Project installs small water treatment units, some seventy to date, in hospitals, clinics, schools and other institutions throughout the country. We have been doing this a number of years. Faiza is the interface between the US based project and a team of technicians in Baghdad who purchase and place the units. They then send back documentation, including photos, of the work.
These are last pictures they sent me from Baghdad. its about a small school
located in small village near Iran borders. I was not satisfied, there is no sign on the
school, I asked them to bring me a letter for the school principle, to assure that the
unit was fixed in their school. Now I am in Baghdad, I have understood that the school
was surronded with Kurd militia [Peshmerga], who forced our team not to take any
near pictures, or inside pictures to the school. The area have military clashing between
Iran and kurd militia. If I knew that, I would not accept sending the team to that
dangerous area. But they nominated it as a poor area, with needy people. OK, the
school will be opened next month, and all the students and the people living around,
will use that clean water.
This letter points up some
of the difficulties, and satisfactions, of our project’s work. It is
satisfying, indeed, to know that helpless people located in these dangerous
areas are noticed by somebody, and that a measure of assistance occasionally
comes, even on the small scale of one of our little water units. At the same
time, if the above letter is accurate, our project technicians are running
considerable risk, and that is not a comfortable thought. The hasty and
abbreviated documentation in the case of this school will not satisfy the person
who demands ironclad guarantees.
I leave it to readers to
make their own judgments. I am sometimes asked why IWP does not send---as
we once did---delegations to personally examine and assess the effectiveness of
the project’s work. The simple answer is that no one has invited us.
Resentment of the US invasion and occupation is so high in many parts of
Iraq---and not just among insurgents---that the presence of Westerners,
Americans especially, can endanger anyone thought to associate with them. Until
that perception changes IWP will have to continue as is.
Recent work is as follows
(chronologically reverse order):
The school mentioned above,
called Mandeli, received an 8 gallon per minute ultraviolet sterilizer (Sterilight)
the last week of July. Also in this phase of the project, four hospitals in
southern Iraq---alGhammas and alShinafiya, Misan Province, AlZahra clinic at
Shatt alArab and Dar alShifa’ surgical clinic at alFaw---were provided reverse
osmosis water units. RO is superior to ultraviolet in situations involving
brackish water, prevalent in many parts of southern Iraq after thousands of
years of irrigation. Each of these clinics has facilities for treating kidney
During May Sterilight
ultraviolet units were installed at a girls’ schools at alFaw (here the
engineer chose ultraviolet over RO), and Nahrawan, near Baghdad. Two others were
placed at a clinic near Kirkuk and a pediatric hospital at Mosul.
Perhaps this is a good point to mention how we compute costs. Purchased in Baghdad, Sterilight runs around $800, including a spare bulb. The reverse osmosis unit is comparable in price. Our technician, an engineer, gets $100 per installation, and his travel and lodging expenses are covered; often he has a second person with him. (Please note he does not ask compensation for personal risk, something well illustrated in the email above.) We also include a stipend for Faiza, normally $100-200, money she usually recycles into sewing machines for poor Iraqi women, an even further benefit of the project. VFP national, where our account is kept, charges a 7 percent management fee, which of course is put to use in the critical peace and justice work of Veterans for Peace. There is a small website cost. Apart from this no one gets paid, we are all volunteers, and we think Iraq Water Project---even with the occasional failure---is very cost effective, indeed.
One last thing. In the previous update I reported our derailed attempt to supply a water unit to Rutba hospital, western Iraq. If you check the article, with the associated link, you will discover this project’s awareness and interest in Christian Peacemaker Teams and its longtime Iraq activist Mennonite Peggy Gish of Athens, Ohio. Sad to report, Peggy’s husband Art, an equally dedicated Palestine activist with CPT, rolled his tractor on their Ohio farm and was pinned beneath it as it caught fire and burned. This is a world class loss to the cause of justice and peace. Blessings upon these people and all like them.
Art Dorland, IWP Chair