Friday, March 19, 2010

7 years later, let's not forget

Over and over, Iraqis here tell me that they believe we are "good people", that they know we care because, they say, they remember seeing us in huge numbers in the streets, protesting the war before the March 2003 invasion and during the early years of the occupation. 

For Iraqis, the war is not just a bad memory marked off once a year on a calendar page; it persists, filling every moment of every day as relentlessly and brutally as during those early days of "shock and awe" in 2003. They may escape temporarily into sleep at night but their dreams are broken by the certainty that they will only waken to yet another day of suffering, grief and loss.

If we are to be worthy of Iraqis' generous opinion of us, let's prove that we have not forgotten them and that we still care.  Let's renew our determination to end their suffering under this war and occupation by taking to the streets to make our protest as focused on their plight and as passionately visible as it was in 2003. And, let's reach out to help these weary innocent victims of the nightmare of war survive. 

Let's remember them - not only on this day but every day until that faraway time when Iraq is finally  and fully free from occupation and its resulting violence and human tragedy.

Let's remember them the same way we would hope others would remember us if we were in their shoes. Please.

drawing by my young friend "Hadia": Iraqi blogger and author of IraqiGirl - Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq

Sunday, March 14, 2010

from despair to hope

AHMED We took Ahmed shopping for his Micro-Project a few days ago. A very talented graduate of Baghdad University of Art, Ahmed wanted basic supplies so that he could paint and then sell his paintings to support himself.

Ahmed arrived in Amman in January of this year, fleeing persecution and death threats that tormented him in Iraq. He came with one suitcase of clothes and a little money that rapidly evaporated when he paid rent for a substandard room in the basement of a shabby building and bought food - when he could. He told us that he was eating only one small meal a day until just before we met him when even that one meal became unaffordable.The events that led to him fleeing Iraq have left him traumatized and he wept frequently as he cautiously told us his story. He told us that he'd been in despair and had frequently contemplated suicide - he showed us the scars from one attempt to end his own life. With no income and no solutions in sight, his hopelessness was increasing despite having escaped death to safety in Jordan. CRP, in your names, provided Ahmed with immediate cash assistance for his basic needs, food, a blanket, and some basic household items. We presented his case as an emergency to UNHCR who fast-tracked him for assessment for their cash assistance program (usually new arrivals face a wait of several months) and, when we explained Ahmed's unique situation and why he should be considered to be considered extremely vulnerable and a candidate for resettlement to a third country as soon as possible, UNHCR immediately moved his case from protection only and into the resettlement unit.

Now, in addition to having his immediate critical needs met and with hope of resettlement so he can build a new life in safety, the art supplies that you provided for him will allow him to spend his time pursuing his passion instead of in depression, hopelessness, and in the struggle for daily survival. 
We've witnessed a dramatic change in Ahmed's spirit in just a couple of weeks since our initial meeting with him - because of the support and assistance you've provided for him. The only tears he's shed recently are from joy.

YOU did this! Thank you!
But we would like you to hear Ahmed's gratitude in his own words:

I am Ahmed, a young Iraqi man, born in 1980, single, and I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting Division, from Baghdad University of Art. I arrived in Jordan on 3rd January 2010 from Iraq, with only my suitcase, a little money, and a huge pain and sorrow, which is the same of all Iraqi people both inside and outside of Iraq.

I was afraid,very worried and disappointed because I had many problems in Iraq and worried about the unknown future waiting for me here in Jordan. I won’t speak much more about myself or about my case because this is not the reason to write these lines. Instead, my goal is to draw attention to Collateral Repair Project existing here in Jordan, working to help Iraqi people that need assistance.

By chance I met this organization and they agreed to make appointment to hear from me about my case and my circumstances, and what reasons forced me to leave Iraq and come to Amman.

CRP made me welcome with kindness and visited the room where I live to know more about my situation in Amman. They helped me with a sum of money because I had used the money I had when I came to Amman. They gave me food supplies, cleaning items and kitchen equipment. But most important for me, CRP gave me painting supplies I need, and everything that I need to open a new painting project, because it is my speciality in study.

This action makes this organization more special than any others because it helped me as an individual person, it gave support and the chance to open a project in my study field.

More and above, CRP helped me to overcome my constant sorrow and disappointment and encouraged me psychologically and emotionally.

CRP contacted the UN Office for Refugees (UNHCR) in Amman, where I was able to register as a refugee and (CRP) gave them a summary of my situation to support my case, explaining on my behalf some aspects of my case in detail. As the result of their effort, I had a visit from UNHCR at my room to see my situation firsthand, in order for me to maybe get some financial aid to help with living expenses. Also on the same day, an employee of the UN Office contacted me to inform me that I had an interview the next day to submit a statement for a decision about my status in Jordan (from protection to resettlement)

If I did not have this support from the CRP in all these areas: financial, psychological and emotional, I would not have overcome my disappointment and troubles that I had all the time before.

I promise, if I succeed to stay in Jordan, and that make much money from the sale of my paintings, it will be donated to CRP in order to support more Iraqi people.

I give a message for everyone: if you can, make contribution to this organization. Do not hesitate, because CRP is humane and the people in it deserve all the respect for what they do.

Finally I would like to repeat, if I did not have this support from CRP in all these ways, I could not have overcome my problems. So please help Collateral Repair Project to be able to help more people suffering from a difficult situation financially and emotionally - Ahmed

Please give now so others can be helped:

SOS from CRP

Another dreadful anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq is approaching rapidly. Seven years later, Iraqis are still suffering from the "shock and awe" that resulted in over a million dead, and millions more maimed, widowed, orphaned and displaced.

Despite rosy reports in western mainstream media, Iraq's security has not significantly improved and Iraqis like Ahmed are still fleeing for their lives. Those already living as refugees in neighboring nations are sinking into deeper and deeper destitution each year they are in exile. The global financial crisis has resulted in cutbacks and elimination of vital assistance programs that were already insufficient to meet their most basic needs.

CRP's ability to provide Iraqi refugees with assistance has also been affected - even more so than large international NGOs as our donor-base, although dedicated, is comparatively much smaller. We have always operated on a shoe-string budget but now that shoe-string is dangerously frayed and we are in danger of having to fold.

Although we have trimmed back our projects and cut expenses wherever we could, at this point we have only enough funds for one more month of operation and to provide assistance to these innocent victims of war. We know how necessary our work is and we are frightened for those who, like Ahmed, depend on us. What will happen to them if we can no longer be here to help?

If you can, please donate now to assure we can continue

giving Iraqi refugees help - and hope - in your name

Many of you have already given generously and we know that some of you are unable to give financially again right now.

But there is another vital way you can contribute:



Here are some links to help you:

Collateral Repair Project web site:

This blog:

Follow us on Twitter: @CRProject

Find us on facebook: Collateral Repair Project

Join our facebook GROUP:

Collateral Repair Project - Helping You Help Iraqi Refugees


Contact us: info(at)