A letter from Iraq
February 26, 2004
Since Jay Pate so heartlessly dismisses my descriptions of the deplorable conditions in occupied Iraq, I’ll let my friend Amal Alwan’s own words speak for her people:
“I am a former secondary school teacher, artist and resident of Baghdad, Iraq. I was dismissed from my job because I wasn’t in the Ba’ath party. I’m a friend for American Peace teams that visited Iraq since 1996.
“Before the war, I fled with my family and sought refuge in Syria, to keep my children from the war. When I returned to Baghdad, my home had been entirely looted. What few possessions I had managed to acquire through the long years of sanctions were gone. Gone too was the security we had enjoyed before the fall of Baghdad.
“At that time, we realized our life in the present and future has become so fraught with new dangers. We Iraqis, especially in Baghdad, live a horrible life. The water is not well and rare, also the electricity is four hours on and four hours off, no phones till now, no security, no employment, no jobs. I tried to get back to my job, but that was useless.
“When I went to the market to buy many things for my children and the house, like food and clothes, I was robbed. That has happened with me several times. The money is what I received only from my art-
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work, because I haven’t got a job.
“My husband has continued his higher education and stayed at home. We have waited for a miracle from God. My friends from America helped me to sell my work in the U.S. That is helping me so much, because it is the only source for my family to live.
“In the first of August, I tried with a partner to start an Internet Cafe to employ myself and many young men ” educated ones ” because there is no employment in Iraq under the occupation. There is only bombing, fighting and stealing.
“We started to develop our youth and our country. I borrowed much money to start this project, but an explosion happened to a restaurant near our Internet Cafe. We lost much money to fix it and we fall into debt. This is the fifth time that I lost money that I needed to solve many, many problems with my family and my debts that became more and more each day.
“That’s my story. I know it is sad, but I believe that many faithful friends, brothers and sisters in the United States can help me, even with nice word to me. My e-mail is email@example.com.
“With my best wishes and prayers to America’s people.”
Mr. Pate may criticize me all he wants, but would he have the audacity to write one of his callous, acid-toned letters to Amal, telling her she’s better off now?
For those more compassionate souls; Amal’s paintings are for sale at the artist’s Mercantile, 823 Cooper, Glenwood Springs. Gallery owners may contact me at 963-2558 or firstname.lastname@example.org.