Good News

 

Click here to see more photos of OIC in action in Iraq and Afghanistan


American Airlines Teams Up With OIC for Largest One-Time Shipment in OIC History

In April 2009, American Airlines and Operation Iraqi Children partnered to transport 20 tons of supplies into Iraq. Two schools were visited in the Golden Hills area of Iraq and over 700 school kits, Croc shoes, and clothing were distributed. Read more about this airlift.

 


 

13th COSCOM Sends Images From Iraq

Click here to see a photo collage with music put together by the 13th COSCOM stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. This video will show the many ways that the U.S. soldiers are working to promote the health and well-being of the Iraqi people. (You can right click on the link and choose "save target as" and save to your computer for faster playback.)

 

Soldier Ends Shoe Drive for Iraqi Children After Huge Response

Catholic News Service
By Colleen O'Neill

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (CNS) -- Army 1st Lt. Brian Cyr would have been content to collect a few hundred pairs of shoes. Instead, the soldier and his platoon have received more than 3,000 matches of flip-flops, sandals and various other shoes for Iraqi children roaming the countryside with nothing on their feet. And the boxes keep coming.

Cyr, who initiated the shoe drive in late May, has had such success that he now needs to bring the drive to a close.

"We are mission complete and boy, oh boy, what a success!" Cyr wrote in a mid-July e-mail to the West Nebraska Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Grand Island.

Cyr is the nephew of Sister Ann Ference, parish nurse at St. Mary's Cathedral in Grand Island. He is currently serving with the 1st Cavalry Division in southern Baghdad. He initially began the shoe drive when he saw that many Iraqi children -- especially those in rural areas -- had nothing on their feet. Publicity from the story widened when Catholic News Service picked up an initial story on the drive from the Register. Cyr, an Omaha native, wrote that seeing children put on a new pair of shoes for the first time is something he'll never forget.

"The joy on their faces is a lifetime of memories," he said.

Shoe shipments came from 11 states in all: Nebraska, Kansas, Alabama, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, California, Utah, Maryland and Texas. There were a few monetary donations as well. Cyr and 28 fellow soldiers distributed the shoes, initially delivering the first 500 pairs in one sitting.

"Then more boxes trickled in, so we would go out on patrol, see a group of kids, or see a group of mothers, and just give them away," Cyr wrote.

Now, he said, the children have something on their feet and Cyr couldn't be happier. It's a bright spot in a peacekeeping effort that has its ups and downs. Four of Cyr's soldiers have been wounded in combat since the platoon began duty in Baghdad. All have been awarded Purple Hearts by the Army. But Cyr said handing out footwear has shown his platoon that most Iraqis are appreciative of U.S. efforts to bring peace.

"It has definitely shown my platoon that the majority of Iraqis are not the ones shooting at us," he said.



Az Zubayr Local Elections Go Ahead

Today, the people from the township of Az Zubayr, Southern Iraq were able to go to the polls and vote for candidates of their choice.

Despite the heat and humidity that surrounds Southern Iraq, the folk of Az Zubayr were able to do something today that they have never done before. Thousands of people turned at polling stations all around the town to cast their votes for two candidates of their choice.

Click here to continue with the story.

 


CPT. Wendy Bernard - Operation Helping Hands

My name is CPT. Wendy Bernard and I am a member of the 874TH Movement Control Team stationed in Northern Iraq. We have launched our own mission known as Operation Helping Hands with the able support of our home batallion, the 436TH Movement Control Battallion, Staten Island, New York and our theatre batallion, the 49TH Movement Control Battalion.

Our operation has made tremendous strides and have included school kit donations, dental hygiene programs, school rebuilding operations, involvement in a local women's union geared to the empowerment of local women and the subsequent improvement of their lives. In essence, we have concentrated on the entire community and have found our work rewarding and gratifying, based on the smiles, hugs and kisses from the local children and adults.

Click here to continue with the story.


Letter from a Soldier in Iraq:

My name is SSG Michael J. Sanow. I am currently stationed in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since I have been here I have had many interesting, and sometimes tense, experiences. Of all of my experiences, though, there has been one positive experience that stands out above all others. Since I have been in Iraq I have had the honor to meet some very good Iraqi people who have not only performed work for the Army, specifically my Battalion, but have also become my good friends.

Almost daily, of the thousands of Iraqi workers (laborers, engineers, electricians, craftsmen) employed by the military to help in the rebuilding efforts, I pick up and escort Ehsan, Jamal, Mahmod, Sajed, Fadel, Jabar, Hazim, Amir, Rafed, and Adil. These are very proud, hard-working Iraqis who are glad to be taking part in the rebuilding effort. I look forward to meeting them every morning, knowing that my day will be filled with conversation and an honest day's work. Ehsan, Jamal, and Mahmod speak English very well, and often translate for the rest of us, as I do not speak Arabic.

You see, each day, we eat lunch together and talk about many things, not the least of which is how happy they are to be free. They are glad to be able to have the opportunity to work and earn wages to support their families. They are glad that the United States of America has liberated them from Saddam.

Not a day goes by that we don't discuss how much better off they are now than before. Ehsan, a former biology teacher, is happiest for his children. He tells me often how happy he is that they will now have a promising future. They are optimistic about the future. They hope that freedom will bring the Iraqi people a much needed rest. As Mahmod explains it, "The Iraqi people are tired from all of the wars and Saddam."

My Battalion is participating in Operation Iraqi Children and look forward to distributing our first batch of school supplies to the Iraqi children. I have shown Ehsan the Operation Iraqi Children web-site and explained the program to him. He in turn explained it to everyone else. All of them expressed their gratitude for the Americans helping them. Ehsan agreed stating, "The country needs education. There are some very smart people in this country, but mostly the population is uneducated and uninformed. The Americans are helping Iraqis change that and that is good." It will be hard when it comes time for me to return to America, leaving behind my new-found friends. Though, that's a long way away, I take solace in the fact that I am part of history, liberating the Iraqi people and helping them to rebuild their nation. I will miss them, but they're only an email away, which is just one of the many freedoms they are just now beginning to enjoy.

Good things are happening here in Iraq. I am proud to be a part of it and very grateful to have met my new friends Ehsan, Jamal, Mahmod, Sajed, Fadel, Jabar, Hazim, Amir, Rafed, and Adil.


Email from an Iraqi friend of Gary's after the arrival of the first Operation Iraqi Children shipment:

Happy birthday, my friend. I'm very proud to consider you as my friend. Thank you for your offer to help me. That is very kind of you and I appreciate that because when a friend be in trouble he will ask his best friend to help him. I want to tell you that all the students today were very happy and you can see the smile on their faces I can't find the words to explain to you the situation, some of the girls and the boys were dancing because they were very happy and some of them singing, it is like a celebration or party and the soldiers were so happy and they enjoyed the time with the kids. The families were very grateful for that when they heard that U.S forces come to deliver some supplies they came quickly to see that. They show to us how much they are happy, one of the parents there told me that is very great to see the soldiers give the kids the toys and the stationary and they will not forget this day and the kids will remember the soldiers who help Iraqi children. Next time I will make some interview with some people asking them about their feelings and their impressions. Happy birthday Gary again, God bless you.



Grace Church Youth Group Raises Funds for Iraqi Children

Upon learning of the founding of Operation Iraqi Children, Connecticut native Jenny Hawran came up with an idea. Approaching the sixteen teenagers in her Grace Episcopal Church Youth Group, she posed a question: "Have you ever thought about what being a child in Iraq would feel like right now?"

The question prompted a lengthy discussion about the plight of Iraqi kids, and inspired the youth group members to take action. "As the teens looked at the photos of the Iraqi children, and heard the stories of them doing without even the most basic needs such as pencils, they realized they had the power to help via this program," says the group's website, http://www.jennyhawran.com/pages/graceyouthgroup.html.

The group members began by printing up flyers and planning fundraisers to gather the funds needed to purchase supplies. Remarkably, the group has quickly raised over $600 in a drive that will continue generating funds through Easter. After that date, the money will be divided among the youth group members, who will purchase the supplies for the Iraqi children. One week later, the boxes will be packed and sent to Iraq. Congratulations to the Grace Church Youth Group for a great effort!



Plaque honoring our soldiers at one of the Iraqi schools

Plaque to honor troops

"By the Grace of God, and the cooperation between the Free Iraqi People and the Coalition Forces, [school name omitted] has been rebuilt. This school is rededicated on Sept. 30, 2003 for the education of a new generation of Free Iraqi people. May this work stand, under God's Watchful Eyes, as a testament to the hard work and dedication to freedom of Iraq and the Coalition Forces."

This was a plaque that was created and hung up by Iraqi citizenss at the school visited byGary Sinise. It was on the wall in the Headmasters office. The Headmaster took Gary in to his office to show him the plaque because he was very proud of it and wanted to share it.

Gary decided to include it on the website because of the wonderful spirit of cooperation that he felt when he was at the school that day. This was a great tribute to the work that the Iraqis have done with the coalition forces. (Another positive step toward rebuilding that war-torn country.)



First shipment fromOperation Iraqi Children arrives in Iraq

Major Juliann Doris poses with two of the Iraqi girls who show off the stuffed animals included in their package from the Our Lady of Malibu school.











Soldiers get wheelchair for Iraqi girl with Cerebral Palsy

From Lt. Col. Drew Ryan: In July we visited the town of Albu Hassan. Just outside of the Balad, Iraq Airfield, the villagers had suffered tremendously under the Hussain Regime. Their farm fields were taken from them for the airfield, with no compensation, and no jobs forthcoming from the base. The results were evident when we arrived -- rundown, ramshackle structures, inadequate electric, no plumbing, sewer, etc. We took interest in the school, which was likewise rundown and lacked basic necessities such as electric fans (to cool the sweltering 130 degree temperatures during the summer) or heaters to warm the cold mornings in winter, no running water, and virtually no school supplies. And all of this in a mud walled building with a palm thatched roof which birds often nested in. Not a place for education to prosper, and often the children left school after 5th grade because of the conditions, and lack of hope.

We found the money to rebuild the primary school and to build a completely new secondary school, complete with ceiling fans in each room, windows with glass and screens, lights, and new roofing. We watched as the construction progressed throughout the summer and into the fall, and began to deliver small gifts of soccer balls, pens, pencils, notebooks, maps, etc from individuals and groups back at home who would donate small (and some not so small) gifts for the students and the community. We became the "Hope" that Albu Hassan had lacked for so many years... and the teachers looked to us for small things, and we did what we could.

One afternoon we set a small medical evaluation station at the school for the students and local community members. The headmaster, Saghban Farhand Mohammed, asked me if one of the teachers could speak to me. Ms. Imman Habbeb A'acka introduced herself and explained that she is a single mother of two children, and her older child, Saffa, has Cerebral Palsy. Although Saffa was not a student at the school, she wondered if the doctor could evaluate her anyway. Our doctor did and although there was nothing he could do for Saffa, he later suggested that a wheelchair would allow Imman to take her daughter out of the house much more easily. Then the search was on.

Iraqi girl with her new 
wheelchair
Lt. Col. Drew Ryan (left) and Maj. Tony Davis (right) with Saffa and her mother

I contacted many friends back at home but nobody could find a used wheelchair. I then read an article in the Marin (county, CA) Independent Journal, about 3 doctors who were travelling to Baghdad to help re-establish the medical community. I contacted the author of the article who forwarded my note and request for a wheelchair to Dr. Ira Sharlip, one of the doctors who was scheduled to visit. Ira and I began regular email communication, and he was able to obtain a wheelchair from California Pacific Medical Center, through the help of Dr. Martin Brotman, President of the board of directors, and Jack Bailey, the Vice President of Operations.

I have since returned home from Iraq, but they are continuing the great spirit of service to the communities that we established during our year there.



Gary having fun with the schoolboys An amusing anecdote:

From Gary Sinise: "I took a trip to this school with Wayne Newton, Chris Isaak and country singer Neal McCoy. When I walked into the room, the whole class screamed, "Lt. Dan!". This mention of my character in Forrest Gump was very funny. Afterwards, I walked up to Wayne and said, "Well, I guess wherever I go, I'll always be Lt. Dan." Wayne replied with a big grin: "Yeah, Lt. Dan is your Danke Schoen!"