Giving To A Needy Iraq
by Gloria Escalona
Donating to an organization to help the Iraqi people has never so easy or so difficult. There are many, in fact, hundreds of organizations working in Iraq to choose from. USAID (United States Aid to International Development), an agency of the US State Department, has been given the task of distributing monetary ‘awards’ from the US government to selected organizations for humanitarian or reconstruction assistance in Iraq. However, the price for this ‘award,’ for some humanitarian groups, may be too high.
There seem to be 3 major complaints:
1. Suspect process of awarding contracts: the USAID process of selecting the organizations to award contracts and grants to is itself suspect. — if the US were really in Iraq to ‘liberate’ the Iraqi people so they could be ‘free’ to do their own thing, then one would think that reconstruction contracts should be given to Iraqi firms in Iraq. This would have the immediate result of creating jobs of which there are few right now, circulating badly needed revenue to jumpstart the economy, allow the Iraqis themselves to filter out the ‘bad’ Baath party members, encourage pride in themselves and their work, and may even decrease sabotage since the work produced would be by the Iraqis themselves, which may speed up the re-establishment of government and reduce re-construction costs. Gee, seems like a ‘no brainer.’
2. Compromised political neutrality: by close association with or protection by US military personnel or Coalition Forces the group would seemingly be taking sides. Managers of 3 major US humanitarian organizations (International Rescue Committee, Care, and World Vision) objected to working under the military and decided not to apply for the AID grants. They described the Iraq reconstruction effort by the US as chaotic.
3. Compromised organizational self-determination and integrity: by having ALL press statements reviewed by USAID prior to their initial release. The Oregonian Press (6/6/03) reports that according to Ellen Yount, USAID press office director, "officials merely intended [to send] … a consistent message to the American public." Save the Children declined the award and Mercy Corps (as of June 2003) is still negotiating the terms of their contract.
If you agree with these points, then the first step in choosing a charity is easy — go to the USAID website http://www.usaid.gov/iraq/ , and if the group is listed there, you can cross them off your list. The second step is to use the same criteria you always use to choose an organization. An excellent source is the Forbes magazine annual survey of 200 charities. See http://www.forbesimg.com/downloads/pdf/invguide03.pdf Forbes evaluates organizations using 3 criteria: 1) what percent of money raised went to the charitable purpose as opposed to administrative costs — the average is about 85-86%, 2) what percent of money raised was left after fundraising costs are subtracted — the average is 89-90%, and 3) how dependent the group is on donor contributions — the average is 75%. The higher the percentages the more efficient the organization.
Don’t forget your own local activist groups (such as EBCOSSI, EPI, and Pax Christi) who are working hard here in the US to educate the American public. They also need your help to continue their work. Your own religious organization may also have designated funds for Iraq or you can help your religious organization establish one. Whenever you donate, you can designate your contribution by putting Iraq or a similar note in the memo line. Here are a few organizations for your consideration.
American Friends Service Committee still collects health kits and ships them to Iraq: 4 bars of soap, 1 bottle of shampoo (13-24 oz. size), 1 tube of toothpaste, 4 adult-size new toothbrushes, 1 hairbrush, 1 wide tooth comb, 1 finger nail clipper, 1 box of adhesive bandages. They are also working on providing system clean drinking water to the population. See http://www.afsc.org/iraq/relief/default.shtm Donate to a local chapter, but if you can’t find one call 312-427-2533 or send a check to AFSC Development, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102
Campaign for Innocent Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) was founded by Marla Ruzicka from the Bay Area. They are going door to door in Iraq to locate and count the innocent victims of war, and help them get compensation from the US. See http://www.iraqvictimsfund.org/whoweare.htm
Donate to: Iraq Victims Compassion Campaign, PO Box 1189, Lakeport, CA 95453
Catholic Relief Services was among the first to speak out against UN Sanctions and predict its effects on the innocent civilians, especially children, in Iraq. They remained in Iraq during the recent invasions along with its partner Caritas Iraq to provide medical assistance and supplies for the civilian population. Donate to: Catholic Relief Services, PO Box 17090, Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7090
Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies (INEAS)
(see http://www.INEAS.org) was founded by an Iraqi, Wafaa’ Al-Natheema, and has 2 major projects for Iraq: the reconstruction of the Baghdad Museum. (see http://www.BaghdadMuseum.intranets.com) and the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra (INSO). Donate to: INEAS, PO Box 425125, Cambridge, MA 02142 Phone 617-86-INEAS (864-6327) Email: INEAS@aol.com or INEAS_1994@yahoo.com
Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is a local organization that needs no description to EPI members. It is currently working with Voices in the Wilderness to provide services in Iraq and educational services through a revival of the Bus Tour. See http://www.mecaforpeace.org/
Donate to: Middle East Children’s Alliance, 905 Parker Street, Berkeley, California USA 94710 Phone: 510/548-0542
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is responding to the crisis in Iraq through its ecumenical partners Action by Churches Together (ACT), Church World Service (CWS), the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), Norwegian Church Aid, and the Mennonite Central Committee. The Iraq Emergency Response Fund aids children, including their medical and housing needs. See http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/ Donate through a local United Methodist church or by sending a check to: UMCOR, Room #330, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115.
Voices in the Wilderness needs no description to EPI members. See http://www.nonviolence.org/vitw/
Donate to Voices in the Wilderness
#634, 5315 N. Clark Ave, Chicago, IL 60640 or on the internet to Iraq Peace
Team/Voices in the Wilderness. PayPal is the authorized credit card
payment processor for VITW and the transaction appears on your bill as
‘PAYPAL *VOICESINWIL’. See https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr
Sunday August 10: Hands Around Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab
1:30 PM rally with music, speakers and art
3 PM march around Livermore lab.
Rally at William Payne Park, 5800 Patterson Pass Rd., at Vasco (from 580 exit onto Vasco & head south), Livermore.
Shuttle Service from Dublin/Pleasanton BART station to William Payne Park available. Please RSVP online: www.californiapeaceaction.org/hands.
If you can not attend, you can still support the action by sending cut outs of your hand (or another creative symbolic representation) to be held around the Lab.
Trace your hand onto paper, put your name, age and hometown and send cut outs to: Hands Around the Lab, 2800 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703
Donations can be sent to the same address. Checks payable to Livermore Conversion Project.
Contact info to volunteer or endorse the event: Tri-Valley CAREs (925) 443-7148, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.trivalleycares.org; Livermore Conversion Project (510) 663-8065; California Peace Action (510) 849-2272, email@example.com, and Western States Legal Foundation (510) 839-5877 www.wslfweb.org.
Black August International
Saturday, August 30th, Labor Day Weekend, 6:30 p.m. Benefit for Haiti, Berkeley Community Theater
1930 Allston Way. Jumpstart support for Haiti’s 2004 bicentennial celebrations with poetry, music, speakers. Commemorate the 23rd anniversary of Black August, organized to honor the fallen freedom fighters: Jonathan and George Jackson, Khatari Gaulden, James McClain, William Christmas, and Ruchell Cinque Magee, the sole survivor of the August 7, 1970 Marin Courthouse Rebellion.
Support Haiti’s literacy campaign! Bring a package of school supplies (pens, pads, pencils, etc). Tickets $5/$10. Contact: Haiti Action Committee P.O. Box 2218, Berkeley, CA 94702, or Kiilu: 415-391-3844
Close Down The SOA!
– No To Torture, Rape and Murder In Our Name! Converge On Fort Benning, GA
From November 21-23, 2003, the thirteenth annual vigil action is taking place in Georgia.
In November 2003, participants will stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout Latin America and say no to torture, rape and murder in our name. They will speak out for justice and a world free of military repression. Many will put their bodies on the line and engage in nonviolent direct action.
Stephen Funk is the first CO charged with desertion for asserting his moral opposition to war.
Stephen is scheduled to face a military tribunal in New Orleans on August 11 for desertion – even though he returned to his unit after completing his conscientious objector paperwork on April 1. He faces two years in the brig.
He is defended by San Francisco-based National Lawyers Guild attorney Stephen Collier, who is working pro bono. However, at least $10,000 will be needed for travel, lodging, and research.
Contributions can be sent to:
Stephen Funk Legal Defense Fund
Conscientious Objector Support
In 2002, the GI Rights Hotline received over 21,000 calls. In 2003, the monthly average of calls to this nation-wide number has topped 3000. Calls come from as close as Oakland and as far away as Baghdad. From reservists who have been called up and active duty career military women and men. A large number of these people have found that they cannot in good conscience participate in war – they have come to be known as conscientious objectors.
The number of conscientious objectors contacting the GI Rights Hotline has quadrupled since September 11, 2001. And, unlike the first Gulf War, the military seems to prefer to deal with them quickly and quietly, processing applications in as little as a few months, not the typical 9 months to a year.
In addition to those GIs who continue to perform their military duties while awaiting a decision on their CO application, we are seeing more and more young people take a stand and refuse orders – doing what their conscience has called them to do. Others are speaking out in public, "coming out" as conscientious objectors.
The GI Rights Hotline provides information and support to any CO who is seeking discharge from the military – those COs who refuse, those who obey orders while awaiting their discharge, those who speak out, those who find that their only option is to go AWOL.
If you know someone in the military who is interested in finding out his/her rights and options for discharge, encourage them to contact the Hotline at 800-394-9544 (or 215 563 4620 from overseas), or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information is also available on the Hotline’s website, www.girights.org
For good info. on some of the resisters:
Haiti still under attack
EPI Board member Pierre Labossiere works for democracy and economic justice for Haiti. He is available to speak and share information to interested groups. If your congregation or union or other group would like more information, call him at (510) 533-0633.
Pierre recommends the following article for our reading.
When Major Powers Stage a Coup
by Randall Robinson
A bloodless coup, led by the world’s richest and most powerful nations, is taking place in Haiti.
For two years now, the world’s wealthiest nations and the Bretton Woods institutions they control have maintained a crushing international financial embargo on eight million Haitians. They have done this "to protest an electoral dispute stemming from Haiti’s May 2000 national elections." At issue was the formula used to calculate the votes for seven senate seats - out of some 7,500 filled nationwide at that time. The seven senators have long since resigned, yet the sweeping financial embargo their election triggered remains in place.
In the original dispute over the vote count, anti-government figures inside Haiti with powerful connections abroad but no political support at home saw a priceless opportunity. If, instead of the screaming victims and ricocheting bullets of the 1991 coup the international community would, this time, simply block every penny of international capital to the Government of Haiti, then that government could, effectively - and without the negative headlines - be again overthrown. A government with no access to capital soon becomes no government at all. And so, for more than a year now, Haiti has been hog-tied and thrust face into the dirt by a financial embargo initiated and maintained by the wealthiest nations on earth.
There may not be the bullet-ridden bodies along Haiti’s streets that we saw after the coup of 1991. But there are bodies. They are the bodies of Haiti’s nameless, faceless poor who, no longer able to bend, break. They buckle under the weight of an embargo that - incredibly - denies their elected government already-approved loans for safe drinking water, literacy programs, and health care that they need. They die out of earshot, out of sight, and unremarked by "those who matter" beyond their shores.
Professor Paul Farmer of Harvard Medical School established a health clinic in Haiti’s central plateau some 20 years ago and travels there regularly. Day after day, he and his staff do battle against the ravages of the embargo. He has been writing and speaking extensively in an attempt to alert the outside world to the impact of the world’s powerful on Haiti. "They are doing severe harm to millions of Haitian men, women, and children.... If the American people could observe first hand the ravages of this embargo, they would strongly condemn it," he says.
Profoundly concerned by the human costs of the embargo, the 14 English-speaking democracies of the Caribbean dispatched a high-level delegation to Haiti in January of 2002. In their view, the widespread human suffering it has wrought has gone unaddressed - and unremarked - for far too long. These democracies, the oldest and most stable in the hemisphere south of the United States, have stepped forward to serve as a bridge between those imposing the embargo and those suffering under it. They note that the Government of Haiti has made significant concessions in an attempt to end this crisis, key among them being the long ago resignation of the seven senators whose election triggered the embargo. At the same time Caricom (Caribbean Community) is working in earnest with Haiti’s unelected opposition figures in an attempt to encourage them to work with their government to end the stalemate.
According to Julian Hunte, Minister of External Affairs in the Government of St. Lucia and Head of Caricom’s Special Haiti Mission, for the entire international community, "the social, economic, and political interests of eight million Haitians must now become paramount." Indeed, Dame Eugenia Charles, former Prime Minister of Dominica and rock solid partner of Ronald Reagan in the 1983 US/Caricom invasion of Grenada, lamented after participating in an official fact-finding mission to Haiti in July 2001, "No-one is listening to the Haitian people. No-one is asking what the Haitian people want!"
Caricom is trying to alert the Organization of American States and indeed the entire international community to a number of stark realities. In this special period in world relations, it is morally untenable and politically unwise for the wealthiest nations on earth to maintain a financial stranglehold on eight million men, women, and children in Haiti. Haiti has no nuclear weapons. It has attacked neither American property nor American citizens. Indeed it is trying its very best, even with its limited material resources, to be a responsible nation and to support US priorities in the region. As an active participant in the US led regional war on drugs, for example, even with its inexperienced police and coast guard, Haiti was able to double the size of its cocaine seizures last year over the year before.
Throughout the Caribbean, there is a keen sense that the duly elected Government of Haiti must now be allowed to govern. The financial embargo robs the Haitian people of their government, and therefore of their democracy. There is also, throughout the Caribbean, respect for the right of Haiti’s opposition figures to continue criticizing their government while awaiting their turn at the polls, for this is the essence of democracy.
Caribbean democracies are urging that the loans successfully negotiated by the Government of Haiti on behalf of the Haitian people be released without delay. It is only when this is done, Caricom feels, that the benefits of Haiti’s hard-won democracy will, at last, be made manifest to the very special people of that very special land.
Randall Robinson is founder and past president of TransAfrica Forum. He is a lecturer and author whose works include "The Debt - What America Owes to Blacks" and "The Reckoning - What Blacks Owe to Each Other." He is currently living in the Caribbean (e-Mail email@example.com) where he is writing a book about the impact of the United States on the region.
The Black Commentator, Issue Number 39, April 24, 2003 http://www.blackcommentator.com/39/39_guest_commentary.html
Calendar & Announcements
(more details for many of these events on page 6)
Thursday, July 17 - 7 p.m. Report back from 2003 World Peace ConferenceDemilitarized Zone and Seoul, Korea. What are the origins of the current crisis? What issues do the Korean people face? Now can we support the people of North and South Korea? Jacqueline Cabasso and Ying Lee, Community Room - 555 Tenth St., Oakland Suggested donation $10-25. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Light refreshments will be served.
Sunday, July 27, 2003, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Should Iraq's Debt be Cancelled? A discussion with Marie Clarke, National Coordinator for Jubilee USA Network.
Presented by Bay Area Jubilee Debt Cancellation Coalition & Jubilee Congregations. Berkeley Friends Church 1600 Sacramento Street at Cedar (Two blocks north of the North Berkeley BART Station)
Hear about current legislation in Washington to cancel Iraq's odious debt, and the significance this will have for the global movement to cancel the debts of the most impoverished countries of the world. Refreshments will be served. For more information call (510) 528-0105.
August 10, 1:30 p.m. Hiroshima Day anti-nuclear Livermore Lab demonstration
Saturday, August 30th, 6:30 p.m. Black August International, Benefit for Haiti. Tickets $5/$10
Berkeley Community Theater, 1930 Allston Way, Berkeley. Contact: Kiilu: 415-391-3844
Tuesday Noon Vigil – is still being held
to oppose the continued war of occupation
upon the people of Iraq. Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay Street, two
blocks from the 12th Street BART Station.
Regarding that Envelope included in each issue of Planted by the Waters. If each person who received Planted By the Waters put a check into the envelope and mailed it to EPI/CALC, it would greatly improve our ability to do the work for justice and peace which we are called to do together. It doesn't have to be a lot. Every little bit counts.
Please help by being part of the Peace and Justice work of Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC and sending your tax-deductible contribution of::
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