Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Thursday, June 26, 2003

You can bitch and moan about the privations of Iraqis or you can do something about it.

Just over six years ago, Peter was an engineering manager and troubleshooter with the Dupont group, while Ruth was a personnel manager.

However, the lives of Salvation Army members Peter and Ruth were to change forever when they decided to commit themselves full-time to God and the organisation's international aid work.

They have since become involved in humanitiarian work in Bosnia, Kosovo, Romania and famine-struck Kenya, and this week, they returned from a five-week stint in Iraq.

Peter (58) said: "We were given less than a week's notice to fly off to the Gulf, but we were only half ready because we have to keep up to date with our jabs. We can get the call at any time.

"After a few days in Kuwait, we travelled with six other workers to Basra, in the south of Iraq from where we went to Nasiriyah.

"We were the first two to be deployed working in Iraq for the Salvation Army.

"There were a lot of burned-out tanks and lorries on the way and you could still hear the occasional gunfire.

"When we got there we didn't know anyone but we were able to find an interpreter who got us accommodation, and we soon found a driver as well.
Our first night in Nasiriyah was in a hotel where the restaurant had been bombed, so it was quite daunting."

The Hammonds were drafted in to oversee the World Food Programme's relief effort for 1.5 million Iraqis in the region, and work with the US marines. The couple used a laptop computer and satellite phone to contact the organisation's headquarters in Baghdad and Basra to outline what food had been delivered and what was still needed.

About 50 50-tonne lorries brought in daily supplies of wheat, rice, tea, cooking oil, sugar and soya beans.

Peter and Ruth helped record the deliveries before they were distributed.
Peter said: "On one occasion there was a supply of flour, but there was nothing to take it out in, so I had to ring up and ask for 450,000 bags. That shows the scale of the project."

And the couple said that, although Iraq was dangerous, they felt protected by God.

Ruth added: "What we did was fulfilling. We are not political people, we just wanted to help the Iraqi people get their food."

The couple had previously spent three months in Bosnia, supplying bricks and food and organising agricultural projects.

In Kosovo, they supplied food to more than 300 displaced Muslims, and, in early 2000, they spent two months providing foods to school

< email | 6/26/2003 04:38:00 PM | link

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