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UPDATE:  Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project                                                                                       

PROJECT UPDATE  21 Sept 2008




Since last report (January 2008) Iraq Water Project has sent Sterilight units to Nassiriya and Sinjar, and contracted water upgrades at several schools in the Thai Kar district of Nassiriya.


For readers new to this site, Sterilight is a Canadian made ultraviolet sterilizer and filter system capable of 8 gallons a minute clean water production.  We have sent 18 of these units to Iraqi hospitals in the past two and a half years at a cost averaging about $1500 each, spare parts, transportation, border fees and maybe even the occasional bribe included.  Under present circumstances of chaos and corruption prevailing in Iraq, not all these deliveries have succeeded, but this is a risk we feel morally obliged to undertake, and the success rate---greater than initially expected---is rapidly improving.  Absolutely central and irreplaceable in this effort is our friend Faiza alAraji, an exiled Iraqi water engineer in Amman who makes purchase and all arrangements for delivery of these life saving devices.  Previous updates (see “What’s New”) will supply details about Faiza and the adventurous journeys of Sterilights to undersupplied and heroic Iraqi hospital staffs.


In the current project phase, the first unit delivery was made in February to a maternity/pediatric hospital at Nassiriya and installed in the surgery.  This event attracted local media attention, however for security reasons the NGO that installed the unit could not reveal the source of the Sterilight, i.e. Veterans for Peace.  Feeling runs high in most of Iraq against the United States and its hated occupation, so that any association with Americans---even us---is dangerous to Iraqis.  While entirely understandable, it is most unfortunate, as part of our project’s purpose is to demonstrate to Iraq’s people our opposition to our own government’s foreign policy in the Middle East, especially Iraq. I am occasionally asked why we are not sending project delegations into the country, as we did before the invasion.  In light of the above I think you will not mistake the reason.  Until we are actually invited and welcomed by Iraqis, as we once were, IWP delegations are highly unlikely.  It makes you wonder how long it will be before Americans can return to Iraq unarmed.


Next after Nassiriya came Sinjar in the country’s extreme northwest.  Sinjar is the principal city of the Yezidis, a most interesting Iraqi minority whose ancient religion stands apart from both Islam and Christianity.  Yezidis have been persecuted for centuries and Sinjar was the victim last year of one of the most devastating car bombings in the course of this entire conflict.   Five hundred civilians were killed outright.   We are most grateful that we were able to help these people.  Two Sterilight units were sent in June and installed at the central hospital and one of the outlying clinics.  We may decide to do further work here, as there are four or five more Sinjar clinics that might need help.


This past April Iraq Water Project in cooperation with a local youth NGO assisted 6 Nassiriya area schools with water upgrades.  For a very small amount of money the project was able to provide each school a new water tank, pump, filter system and even ceiling fan.  Sterilization is not, however, included in the price, so the water in these schools would fail our US standards.  Nevertheless it is a great improvement, and if you saw pictures of some of the poorest area schools you would be astonished that they can operate at all.  IWP is currently establishing a cooperative relationship with Muslim Peacemaker Teams (mpt-iraq.org) to assist schools in the vicinity of Najaf.  More on this in future updates.


This past month a local NGO (again, for security reasons we do not publish their name) installed an IWP Sterilight at the Romaitha hospital, also in Nassiriya.  A second unit is presently awaiting installation at another vicinity clinic, probably at Samawa.


Thank you for your attention and interest in Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project.  We are still solvent and working, and will do so as long as donations come in.  Considering the damage our country has done to Iraq’s people, both before and since this invasion, the United States has a huge debt to that nation which it will never pay off, even if it some day intends---or is forced---to do so.  Our little project is a miniscule down payment, but it’s a start and we won’t be collaterally sinking any petroleum wells into Iraq’s sand.  Maybe some day we’ll dig a water well.


--Art Dorland, Chair

Iraq Water Project, Veterans For Peace