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[ADC-ITF] 1 million postcards campaign

               Lorraine Al-Rawi: One woman's views on
               Published Thursday January 27, 2000

               By Susan Schwartz 

               What follows is an interview with Mrs.
Lorraine Al-Rawi.
               Lorraine is a convert to Islam. Her
husband is Iraqi and
               she is the mother of six children, the
youngest a
               daughter only a few months old.
Lorraine has travelled
               to Iraq, and has reported on conditions
in that
               beleaguered nation -- specifically the
disastrous effects
               of the United States sponsored embargo.

               Lorraine has toured Iraq extensively.
She and two of
               her daughters, Kouthar, 12, and Marwa,
11, have
               initiated a campaign "One Million
Postcards for Iraq"
               that has received national publicity.


               Susan: Lorraine, will you tell us how
many times you
               have visited Iraq since the imposition
of the embargo?

               Lorraine: I have visited Iraq three
times since the
               embargo and have spent a total of three
months there.

               Susan: Were any of the Iraqis you met
reluctant to
               speak out?

               Lorraine: None of the Iraqis we met
were reluctant to
               speak out. They were actually happy
that someone
               wanted to hear the stories they had to
tell and that
               their voices could be heard.

               Susan: Will you tell us with perhaps
some illustrations
               about how the embargo has affected the
               How the embargo has affected schooling?
How has the
               embargo has affected the diet of the

               Lorraine: The embargo has affected the
infrastructure in
               many ways. One example would be
               water. Iraq is unable to purify all the
water that the
               society needs. The power plants are in
a poor state of
               repair, and the electricity is cut on a
regular basis.
               Believe me, when the temperature is 140
               Fahrenheit, it is not pleasant. The air
stands still, and
               breathing becomes difficult. Imagine a
person who
               suffers from asthma and has no access
to medicine.
               Medicine -- even non-prescription
medication that we
               take for granted -- is virtually
non-existent due to the

               As for schooling, Iraq had a 90 percent
literacy rate
               before the embargo. Now it stands below
50 percent.
               Children have been forced to leave
school and sell
               trinkets and personal items on the
street in order to
               survive. I attended a high school
chemistry class that
               was experimenting, with no success,
with chemicals
               more than 10 years old. Not
surprisingly, they could
               not achieve results.

               As for diet, I know and know of
children who have never
               tasted meat. The current oil-for-food
rations provide a
               very basic diet of rice, tea, flour,
beans, oil and sugar.
               There are virtually no fruits,
vegetables, eggs or meat
               included. The rations last an average
of three weeks,
               and on the last week, many of the
families literally
               starve. With many of the salaries in
the neighborhood
               of $3.00 a month, families still have
to take care of all
               normal necessities and extra food, if
at all possible.

               Susan: Before the embargo, Iraq had a
               program free to all its citizens. It
was on a par with
               Western nations and was considered by
many to be a
               model. How has that changed since the

               Lorraine: That system has collapsed. It
               deteriorated to the level of a third
world country. Iraq
               still has an educated population of
doctors, but they
               have very limited equipment and very
few drugs. One of
               my aunts through marriage died of a
               ailment that could have been
successfully treated by
               items we can purchase in any drugstore
in the West.

               Susan: Can you, after your numerous
trips to Iraq,
               trace the descent of that nation?

               Lorraine: As I answer these questions,
Iraq is
               flourishing in many ways, yet dying as
a nation in
               others. The people there have faced
extreme hardships
               in life, and they continue to survive.

               The Iraqis fix things in incredibly
creative ways. In this
               country when an appliance is broken, it
is replaced
               immediately. In Iraq, a generation of
very ingenious
               problem solvers is being born. The loss
of 250 children
               a day would devastate any nation.

               Susan: People in a nation effectively
under siege must
               suffer in their family relations. What
have you observed
               in that arena?

               Lorraine: I have seen first hand how
family relations
               suffer. My sister-in-law's husband has
been out of the
               country for four years working abroad
to support his
               family in Iraq. She has been forced by
this situation to
               raise two teenage sons and a daughter
by herself.
               During the important formative years of
their lives, they
               had essentially one parent. And, of
course, families
               suffer psychological damage every day
from the
               incredible stress brought on by the
effects of the

               Susan: During the Spring of 1999 you
returned from
               Iraq with a young child who could not
receive the
               medical care she needed in Iraq. Could
you tell us
               something about her, her condition and
how she is
               faring now?

               Lorraine: The child is scheduled for
surgery on March 3
               of this year. Her name is Maha, and she
is 11 years
               old. She faces several serious
surgeries before she
               can get back on her feet. Her
condition, which is
               congenital, could have been treated at
an early age
               had the medical system present before
the embargo
               still been operative. She could have
been spared so
               much suffering. As for her daily life,
she has learned
               English and is first in her class in
school. Maha was
               born with scoliosis, which resulted in
severe deformity
               in both feet and stiffness of all

               Susan: Please tell us about your
postcard campaign.

               Lorraine: The postcard campaign is
going strong. Two
               of my daughters are collecting one
million postcards to
               give to the President [of the United
States] to protest
               the economic sanctions. The postcards
come from all
               over the world and are largely, but not
exclusively, from
               children. We will continue to collect
them until the
               sanctions are lifted. Everyone is
invited to submit a
               postcard. One may join the campaign by
sending a
               card to: One Million Postcards
Campaign, P. O. Box
               1141, San Pedro, CA, 90733. The card
may contain a
               message opposing sanctions or a picture
or both.
               More information can be found on our
website at:

               Susan: Do you have plans for expanding

               Lorraine: Yes, we do have plans to
expand it. We
               would like to travel more on behalf of
the program and
               to have more people join our efforts.

               Susan: If you had a message for the
readers about the
               Iraqi embargo, what would it be?

               Lorraine: The message I have for
readers is that
               children are never responsible for
adult actions. No
               matter how much governments disagree
with each
               other, children should not be the
victims of subsequent
               hostile actions. Children have rights,
and the rights of
               Iraqi children should be acknowledged.
End the
               embargo for the sake of the children! I
wish and pray
               that the sanctions are removed promptly
and that the
               new millennium will bring renewed hope
for the children
               and people of Iraq and for all the
world's suffering

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