In the spring of 2019 we teamed up with 1for3http://1for3.org/ and the Lajee Center to support grassroots health advocate organizers in Bethlehem, Palestine as they work to address the prevalent healthcare needs of Palestinian refugees living in the Aida and Al-Azza Camps. While we’re no longer collecting contributions, the Health4Palestine campaign is ongoing. US funding to Palestinian aid organizations through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency has been eliminated and such neglect exacerbates the already dire lack of healthcare facilities in the West Bank and Gaza.
Support Palestinian Coverage of the Great Return March!
For much of 2018 and 2019 we teamed up with Tawwasal to support their work of translating and sharing information about the Great Return March. Tawwasal is a grassroots Palestinian project that aims to eliminate communication barriers among Palestinians globally as well as solidarity activists. They accept submissions of articles, stories, and other important content and translate it from Arabic to English or vice versa.
US citizens are complicit in the historical wrongs committed against the Palestinian people that prevents them from returning to their homeland. For almost a year following March 30th, 2018 195 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army’s shoot-to-kill practice on the peaceful protestors at the Great Return March. Protestors were fired on with live ammunition and teargas, leading to over 1400 injured. Tawwasal’s work continues to be invaluable and contributing to their organization is a great way Americans can begin a process of repair.
Together with MakeLifeSkateLife we helped build a skatepark in Jordan in 2015, and then help raise $30,000 for another park in Sulaimania, in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2018. Your reparations went to not only building the parks but also insuring that children have access to skateboarding lessons and can check-out free boards.
Echocardiogram for Fallujah’s Women and Children’s Hospital
In 2018 we teamed up with Swedish and Japanese solidarity organizations, Irak Solidaritet and Iraq Hope, to buy a badly needed echo-cardiogram machine for Fallujah’s Women and Children’s Hospital. Since 2004 Fallujah’s hospital staff have been overwhelmed with some of the highest rates of birth defects the world has ever seen, most likely due to war pollution. Moreover, the Fallujah General Hospital and the newly build Women and Children’s Hospital have been poorly equipped to handle this public health crisis, lacking basic treatment options and diagnostic machines.
Together we raised $30,000 and shipped the machine to Fallujah. Dr. Basim Atallah, a pediatrician, sent us this message:
“Thank you very much for this very important gift for our hospital and we are so happy with your nice feeling to our suffering with increasing incidence of congenital malformations especially congenital heart diseases among our babies. My great respects and regards.”
Medicine and Clothes for Internally Displaced Iraqis
During the winter of 2014/2015 Islah tried to answer urgent calls for medication and supplies from hospitals and clinics treating internally displaced Iraqis. We responded by purchasing and delivering much needed medication and cold-weather clothing.
Our in person delivery of your reparations started in Dohuk, in the north of Iraqi Kurdistan. The majority of the Yazidi people had fled to Dohuk over the past year. Thousands were living in unfinished construction sites, under trees and highway barriers, and anywhere they could lay down a mat. Others lived in even worse conditions in refugee camps outside of the city. Around every corner and in every alley a family had set up a make-shift shelter. Most families lacked access to basic hygiene, clean water, or privacy. During the summer heat exhaustion was killing Yazidi children and elderly, but by the winter cold weather was the primary concern. The camps were overcrowded, with poor sanitation and a lack of nutrient rich food, and medicine was especially difficult to access.
In Dohuk we partnered with a local mobile clinic in order to provide medicine, and more importantly preventative health supplements including protein powder, baby formula, vitamins, and diaper rash ointment/skin ointment. We also purchased the most in-demand medications with your reparations funds: hydro-cortisone skin ointment, nasal drops for children, anti-diarrheal medication, and treatment for urinary tract infections for the mobile clinic to distribute.
Next we moved to Shaqlawa, near Erbil. Here we spent time with farming families from Anbar Province, displaced by the US funded Maliki bombings of their towns. We provided cold-weather jackets for all 25 children of one very poor family, and conducted interviews with many others.
Not only was in-person delivery of tangible supplies and goods important, it allowed for the beginnings of reconciliation with the Iraqi people, whose lives have been impacted on every level by the US invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent unraveling of Iraqi society. We were amazed by people’s graciousness in receiving us into their homes, discussing US responsibility for the situation in Iraq, sharing meals with us, and talking politics.
We did our best to communicate the reparations message, but found that the sheer quantity of need was overwhelming. Our interaction with these families made it clear that there is never any possible way to clean up everything up because of the sheer number of messes the US Empire has made. The most meaningful impact in such a large-scale disaster is to prevent war and massive weapons distribution in the first place.
Azraq’s Emergency Heart Surgery
We met Azraq back in 2014 in Kurdistan, where he was living with his family as refugees, in the one UN camp in the area, well over capacity serving 18,000 families. Azraq sat on the floor propped up by a cushion, uncomfortable yet remarkably poised, his skin an unsettling shad of blue from lack of oxygen. At age four he couldn’t run around and play like other children his age, stand comfortably, or even breathe at times; necessitating repeat emergency visits to the hospital to be placed on oxygen. Azraq was suffering from a cyanotic congenital birth defect. He was one of over 200 cases of congenital heart defects his cardiologist receives per month in Fallujah, where he was born. Research conducted to date marks a rapid increase in congenital birth defects in Iraqi cities like Fallujah since 2004 most-likely caused by chemicals and metals used in U.S. weapons.
Azraq’s condition was serious. His oxygen level was 40%. A healthy rate is around 98%. He an emergency surgery immediately, or his oxygen level would have continued to drop causing irreversible brain damage and death. So Islah asked you to give reparations to send Azraq to India for his surgery.
Thanks to your contributions, we raised the $10,000 needed to secure Azraq’s flight and surgery, which was a huge success! He is doing much better now, although the situation in Iraq is still dire. While we can never take away the bombs that were dropped or heal the scars left by our actions in Iraq, but we can pay reparations to individuals like Azraq and his family.