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OIC Director
On 10 Aug 2004 at 19:08
Thank you for asking this question.

I would send any items that are dressed in shorts, short skirts, tank tops, midriffs, etc. to another organization here in the United States. Our culture is much more accepting of these kinds of images and I really don't think they would pass the inspection process once they arrived in Iraq.

We must be very culturally sensitive when sending items to Iraq. We are not interested in changing their culture or Americanizing them in this way. We simply want the children in Iraq to have a chance at an education. I'm concerned that the Iraqi parents would question our motives if we sent items such as these.

Your sincere effort to keep the children supplied with educational materials, stuffed animals, and sports equipment is truly appreciated.

Mary Beth Eastwood
OIC Director

On 05 Aug 2004 at 08:59
Thank you so much for all your replies. I am enjoying reading those as well ! I am sure others do too !

Anyway I will take the advice on the folders. I figured the swirls, solid colors, cute animals etc. were probably best, but just in case I saw some really cute Barbie, Bratz (dolls in teen clothes), or other such, I wanted to ask first (before I went shopping, Lol). For instance, the dollar store, a while back had lots of Barbie school kits - I sent those to an orphanage in Poland. Those were really cute, but they did have mini skirts on etc. Barbies usually do. We kind of don't notice that stuff any more, but, I thought maybe in a more conservative place they might not see it as we do. Understandable !

So I'll avoid the more teenage types of themes like cartoon teens in jeans, summer wear, etc.etc. Just to be on the safe side. But it's good to know that other things are OK. Because, I had even heard that in strict Islam, images are forbidden - so I even wondered about cartoon animals ! I know that gets picky, but, I only want to help, not hurt.

Finding those black & white composition books (I'm glad someone else asked - although I did see a photo of one on an office website, and figured it was that one) might be tough but I'll try. The "99 cent only" stores in Ca. are really good. Of course right now my timing is bad - EVERYONE is looking for school supplies. haha

Oh well ! It will still be fun :O) I just need to shop during 'off hours'. ;o)

Thanks for the feedback on backpacks, too. Those things all make sense. Sometimes plastic ones are cheaper but I will see what is out there. At least I know not to get the smaller-kid size backpacks. Makes sense.

One last question; I have some Happy Meal type, Barbies. They have capri pants (just under the knee) and sleeveless tops and a fur neck scarf. And platform shoes. Are those OK or not so OK, for sending to the kids ? I could send them with the kits or also I have another place where I am sending a box of toys to the children. But I see all the girls there wear long skirts. I don't know what they'd make of Barbie - they knew Barbie in Communist countries but I'm not sure if they've seen her in Iraq ! Her blond hair alone might seem strange.

Well thanks again for any & all feedback.


OIC Director
On 04 Aug 2004 at 17:48
Thank you all for your great questions and I am happy that you have asked. I will try to answer the last few posts to help clarify what is acceptable to send.

Cultural Differences:
The cultural sensitivities are real. I would choose more innocent school supplies that warm their hearts and send a positive message. The American culture has pros and cons and some of the images may not be appropriate for the Iraqi culture to receive as it is hard for them to understand why we would promote certain images to our children. In general I would refrain from anything that is not a universal positive image. Cute animals, solid colors, bright colorful artistic items, etc. are great.

Either one is fine but canvas would probably be the best choice. The size should be big enough for the folders to fit as well as all the school supplies. The kindergarten size backpacks just aren't big enough and it is hard to distribute specific sizes. The kids grow out of the backpacks and we hope they will be able to use them longer than a short period. The children are of normal size. I have not heard that they are smaller than normal.

Composition Book:
The list says Composition Book which is the black speckled type which was requested by the Iraqi Minister of Education. If you are unable to find these, spiral notebooks are just fine. We are sending both as we are aware that the need for school supplies far outweighs the type.

Please keep up the hard work and enthusiasm you are all putting into this. I enjoy reading how much thought you are all putting into this!

On 02 Aug 2004 at 21:32
I needed clarification on the composition book. Must it be the black and white covered, or can we use the wide-ruled spirals??

On 26 Jul 2004 at 08:41
PS I assume the same considerations would also apply to the designs on any backpacks sent.

By the way. Do you feel that canvas or plastic backpacks are better ? I know it's very hot over there. Would plastic backpacks feel kind of sweaty, carrying those in 120 degree sun ?

What size backpacks ? How young are the kids ? I have no kids so am not exactly experienced in what ages wear what size of backpacks. I'd think the regular size would be too big for them, do they make a kid size ? And a toddler size (kindergarten age) ? Are the kids there smaller than here ? (I know in some foreign countries they are due to malnutrition).

Thanks for any answers, I like to do a good job when I try and do something =)


On 26 Jul 2004 at 08:38
Hi !

I have a question about this, as well.

I know it is part of hte culture that girls' and womens' dress is very modest (burka or not, that likely will not change any time soon from what I gather). They mostly wear skirts going at least below the knee as well as scarves on their heads.

So - are folders depicting Barbie okay ? I have no idea how this culture would view Barbie, with her modern clothes and her blond hair, sunglasses, makeup etc.etc.

That would also go for cartoon figures such as, Bratz (a sort of Barbie doll but their heads are larger... Lol) dolls, or just even depictions of children in what Americans might consider normal children's clothing. Or how about if any were in swimsuits.

In other words I don't know how the gauge goes in this case. I want to be respectful of their views but I don't know if I am taking it overboard. Naturally I'd buy folders which were in the back to school aisles, but, I'm also aware of the cultural differences etc.

That could also help me figure out whether to send the mini Barbie Happy Meal toys, or whether their parents would not allow htem to play with those. (The Barbies wear capri pants, and fuzzy fur neck scarves, and sleeveless tops, and platform shoes).

(I am sending those toys, to a different charity)

Thanks in advance, for any guidance.

For my first batch I will look for solid colors in the folders ;o)


OIC Director
On 15 Jul 2004 at 21:21
Thank you JDM for helping answer these questions.

I wanted to add one request when choosing school supplies. Please do not send school items that have American popular culture characters that depict war and violence. Although we are familiar with these characters, they are not.

We want to avoid any confusion or negative impression some formidable characters may convey.

Thank you all! We are very pleased with the school supply kits coming in. You're doing a great job!

On 11 Jul 2004 at 22:40
All good questions ... I work for Heart to Heart and help handle the product, so I think I can speak to this. Rulers can be wood or plastic, with metric markings preferred. Pencil bags can be colored or clear. As far as I know any color of folder is fine. Just be wise in trying to stay away from sensitive themes that may be present on the folders, such as obviously, religious/political/social themes that may be sensitive to the Iraqi children.

Thx for your help.

J Moore

Joyce Kuhn
On 09 Jul 2004 at 20:24
A group of us at Sage Publications (CA) have paired up to do kits and wondered about the following:
1. Should the ruler be wood or plastic? Or does it matter?
2. Are see-thru plastic pencil bags OK, or should they be of opaque material?
3. The folders are bright colors--are there any colors that carry religious/other significance in Iraq so we don't cause upset?

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