A Project to Rebuild Fallujah’s Hospitals

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https://www.gofundme.com/rebuilding-fallujahs-hospital

Since I started this blog several years ago I have searched for ways to directly support and help the people of Fallujah, the families with babies,  children, suffering from horrendous birth defects caused by weapons used by the US and allies. As I write in the introduction, through my initial research I encountered an ex-Marine named Ross Caputi, a veteran of the Iraq war who fought in Fallujah and who is featured in the video that is pinned to the beginning of this blog. He helped co-found the Justice for Fallujah and ISLAH Reparations projects that you may have read about on this blog.

I am always humbled by his commitment to trying to do something to help the people of Fallujah.I know that I shared his frustration as we all watched the city sustain devastation and continued destruction over the past few years. I lost track of what happened to those babies. The people fled, became refugees, and those who have returned have returned to rubble.

I haven’t written in this blog for a while. I feel bad, but I don’t know what to say. I wanted so badly to help those babies and hopefully have made some small bit of difference here and there…raised a little bit of awareness, maybe. But mainly there has been little to say because I didn’t know what to do.

Now there is something to do. I received this email from Ross:

Dear Friends,

I’ve been awarded a $5000 grant from Veterans for Peace to begin reparations efforts with the Fallujah General Hospital and build a veteran-led reparations campaign for Iraq! But I need to match the grant by 10%. Please help us raise $500 to kick these efforts off.

Visit our Go Fund Me campaign to contribute.

This is the situation. I’m a veteran of the second US-led siege of Fallujah in 2004, so I feel a huge moral debt to this city. The Fallujah General Hospital is currently in ruins from the last three years of Coalition military operations (including US air strikes) to push the Islamic State out of the city. And since the ground assault that finally cleared the Islamic State from Fallujah this past June, all the medical equipment has been looted. What’s worse, the Iraqi government has made no promises to rebuild the hospital or restock it with equipment. Out of desperation, the hospital staff has put a call out to international solidarity organizations for assistance.

Over the last few years, I’ve been working with the Islah Reparations Project to bring grassroots reparations to Fallujah’s hospitals. Through this work, we’ve developed a strong relationship with hospital staff members, and they’ve asked us to play a big role in this initiative.

The task before us is potentially enormous. It will likely require significant logistical efforts, lobbying, fundraising, media work, and community building. Fortunately, we have a small dedicated group of organizers to help kick this effort off. And with your help, we can build this effort into a sustainable solidarity and reparations movement.

If we can raise $500, the Veterans for Peace Howard Zinn Fund will be providing a $5000 grant to kick these efforts off. We have websites to build, committees to organize (for a number of different projects), a trip to Fallujah to plan, and a book to publish, tentatively titled The Sacking of Fallujah: a people’s history. But what we’re most excited about is the formation of a Veteran Reparations Project to lead these efforts.

All of this requires operating funds and many hands to share the labor burden. If you can, please contribute to these efforts. Whatever you can offer—funds, labor, or social media support—would be much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Ross Caputi
Board Member of the Islah Reparations Project
Iraq veteran and graduate student

The good news is that he met the goal for the matching funds! But as you can imagine, there is so much more needed. Please, please please…anyone reading my blog, and my friends and others who know how this issue has always been one that is so so important to me, please do what you can to help Ross help the Fallujah General Hospital. Those doctors are heroes. They deserve our support. For the babies.

From FGH

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Here’s How We Can Help: One Child at a Time…

I’ve written of ISLAH and the Iraqi Reparations Project before (see here for more information).

I just wanted to share their latest request:

AZRAQ’S EMERGENCY HEART SURGERY

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The Islah Reparations Project sent a small team back into Iraq this month to assess life on the ground for Iraqis and to determine the most critical unmet needs; the teamfound many (see update report.) Following a meeting with a well-respected cardiac physician, one case stood out as the most urgent, a young boy in need of heart surgery. The Islah team traveled into Kirkuk to meet the child and his family. The child at risk of further violence for his name thus referred to here as Azraq.

CLICK HERE to pay reparations to Azraq.

Help cover the cost of a life-saving heart surgery!

Our team entered a cinder block construction site where Azraq’s large family currently resides. With one UN camp in the area well over capacity serving 18,000 families, more than 10,000 families have been forced to seek shelter wherever they can. Azraq sat on the floor propped up by a cushion, uncomfortable yet remarkably poised. At age four he can’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.

Medical Information

10917361_10152772251142759_5170933976434817887_nAzraq suffers from a Cyanotic Congenital Birth Defect. (1) He is one of over 200 cases of congenital heart defects his cardiologist receives per month from Fallujah. Research conducted to date marks a rapid increase in congenital birth defects since 2004 caused by chemicals used in U.S. weapons.

According to investigative journalist Dahr Jamail, “We are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the aftermath in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II…The amount of congenital malformations in Fallujah is 14 times greater than the same rate measured in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in the aftermath of the nuclear bombings…because of the amount of depleted uranium used by the U.S. military during both of their brutal attacks on the city of 2004, as well as other toxic munitions like white phosphorus, among other things.” (2) These chemicals have now seeped into the ground, the drinking water, and the very bodies of those from the area.

Pain, breathlessness, and endless doctors appointments have punctuated Azraq’s short life.

Azraq should be running around and laughing with other little boys right now. Instead, Azraq is clinging to life. He needs emergency cardiac surgery or he will die. His oxygen level is currently 40%. A healthy rate is around 98%. If he does not receive surgery immediately his oxygen level will continue to drop causing irreversible brain damage and death (one month ago his level was 45% and last year it was 60%.)

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Action Plan

The Islah Reparations Project was started by Americans who feel that they were/are complicit in war, occupation, and displacement and who want to take responsibility for harm committed in their name. ISLAH offers people of conscience an opportunity to put into action the words we speak and the goodwill we feel when we think about our position in the global order and the violence wrought to sustain that position.

Our goal is to raise money for Azraq to receive emergency life- saving medical treatment.Azraq needs to leave Iraq to secure affordable expert care, which can only be done in India, Turkey, or the U.S. We have chosen to send him to India where his treating physician has experience with the surgeon and hospital and where it is substantially less expensive.

His treatment and plain ticket will cost approximately $10,000. We’ve already raised $5,000 to put toward Azraq’s treatment. Will you partner with us? We can never make Iraq whole again. 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 this little boy and his family.

CLICK HERE to pay reparations to Azraq.

Help cover the cost of a life-saving heart surgery!

(1) Cyanotic Congenital Birth Defect.

(2) Iraq, Ten Years Later, The U.S. Occupation’s Impact On Children by Dahr Jamail


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