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UPDATE:  Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project                                                                                       


In November 2009 Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project was given its second opportunity to furnish clean water to an Iraqi prison. One year ago we managed to place a Sterilight ultraviolet unit at Samawa Central Prison in southern Iraq. Serving an incarcerated population, perhaps the most forgotten and neglected of all Iraqs unfortunate people, is something we had never considered when the project was formed. Few of us knew anything about the city of Samawa, much less its main prison.

Just as few of us will not have known about our recent target of opportunity, Abu Ghraib. No one reading this article will need refreshment of the memory of this pleasant place and the things that went on there. For years before the US invasion of Iraq, Abu Ghraib was the most notorious accommodation ever operated by Saddam Hussein, and it is astonishing that the American occupiers would choose it for their ambiguous purposes, unless they deliberately sought to usurp and appropriate this symbol of tyranny under a new flag.

I am told that at peak utilization, Saddam entertained some 30,000 guests at Abu Ghraib. Its present population, now that the US has released some prisoners and turned the facility over to Iraqs Ministry of Interior, stands at about 3000. The prison water treatment system was not working at time of the handover, and has not been repaired since. Enter IWP.

Two 8 gallon per minute units were installed at the prison by our Baghdad team of technicians. Faiza, IWPs water engineer friend and irreplaceable resource in Amman, advises that that should be sufficient for this number of inmates, plus staff. By coincidence, the brother of one of our team members is employed at the prison, and that is how we learned of this situation and were able to help.

Since last report, IWP has place 16 additional units in various Iraqi institutions, including schools, clinics and residential buildings in various parts of the country. Two of these installations were made in cooperation with Michigan Peaceworks, Ann Arbor, and VFP member Dr Marcus Erickson, working with Muslim Peacemaker Teams, accounted for units installed in two schools at Najaf. The famous Imam Ali shrine at Najaf, the Hussein and Abbas shrines at Karbala, and the Khadamiya shrine in Baghdad are all now supplied with clean water from IWP Sterilights. Anyone who would like pictures of this or other work, see the website photo pages or please contact me at artdorland@hotmail.com.

You will perhaps notice that apart from Faiza, relatively secure in Amman, I do not use the names of any Iraqis who help us carry out this project. This is at their request, as for personal safety it is inadvisable for Iraqis to be publicly associated with any American entity whatsoever doing work in Iraq, even us. I can say with some confidence that your tax money employed by the US military in Winning Hearts and Minds has been, for the most part, unavailing.

One more thing. Some weeks ago the young man who marshals the Baghdad technician team was walking with his best friend in the city when a nearby car bomb exploded. He sustained multiple wounds, including a metal fragment lodged in his brain, and the friend was killed outright. After initial treatment of the more superficial injuries, our technician was released from hospital in the expectation that his brain injury might remain stable. Recently, however, this wound became dangerous as the fragment threatened to dislodge. Our dedicated friend made certain to complete the installations at Abu Ghraib before undergoing a perilous operation. Two weeks after the procedure (late November) I am pleased to report the surgery appears successful and he is ready to get back into harness to help more fellow Iraqis. It is gratifying to have people like this cooperating with us and to know that some Baghdad medical facilities are still doing excellent work.

Thanks again to everybody---and one small foundation in particular---for your interest and support of Iraq Water Project. Remember the ant and the rubber tree plant. We will keep going. 

Art Dorland, Chair, Iraq Water Project