What follows is a survey of stories about the good stuff being done by the US and it's allies in Iraq and Afghanistan:
KIRKUK AIR BASE, Iraq -- As we move into the month of May, things seem to be stabilizing a little more. We have been very active in the city with numerous vehicle and dismounted patrols. We have been able to focus on rebuilding projects in some of the poorer neighborhoods and stabilization projects in others.
I've been planning my next town meeting in Amu Shabi next week. I think we need to ensure that these villagers are organizing themselves for future stability. They had no noticeable structured government or leadership in that area of the province. I think we can guide them in the right direction; it's just going to take some time and a lot of effort.
We were also able to hand out donated clothes, hygiene products and school supplies to another poor village. We all thought the name given, Dirt Village, was a nickname that described the place. To our amazement, the village leader told us, "no that's the name." We showed up 30 minutes early at the village school and the kids were let out early so we could set up. Already there was a huge line forming.
Iraq: Work To Be Proud Of
By Andrew S. Natsios
-- We have rehabilitated eight power plants and are installing three new ones. We are also replacing towers, stringing wires, rebuilding lines and installing new generators.
-- We have played a key role in restoring Iraq's transport and communication systems. Among other things, we have repaired the Baghdad airport and the country's deep-water port. We have rebuilt bridges, improved rail service and repaired the fiber optic network.
-- We expect child mortality and water-borne disease to drop sharply as a result of our commitment to repair and rehabilitate the water and sewerage system throughout the whole of the country. We are in the process of vaccinating 3 million Iraqi children. We are reequipping 600 health-care clinics, training doctors and nurses and distributing high-protein supplementary food rations to hundreds of thousands of pregnant and nursing mothers.
-- USAID has also helped uncover mass graves where as many as 400,000 Iraqi victims of Saddam's genocide campaigns lie buried. Hundreds of thousands of others, including untold numbers of children, died from deliberate neglect, indifference and politically motivated deprivation....
Warriors from 1st Marine Division and Jim Hake, founder of Spirit of America, have similar aspirations: to help the Iraqi people and to build better relations between Americans and Iraqis.
But that's easier said than done.
According to the Spirit of America Web site, www.spiritofamerica.net, the Los Angeles-based non-profit charitable organization is helping to reach these goals by donating several tons of medical equipment, school supplies, carpentry tools and Frisbees.
—“This is just the first step in a long road we will share together, to improve the people’s lives in Iraq,” said Lt. Col. Gary J. Volesky, commander 2nd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force 1st Armored Division, during reopening ceremonies for a neighborhood clinic in Sadr City March 27, 2004.
With a medical staff consisting of a doctor, a pharmacist and three nurses, the clinic serves a neighborhood of 4,500 people, said Capt. Jeff L. Hembree, Alpha Company, 478th Civil Affairs Battalion commander.
Once known as Saddam City, Sadr City is named for the Imam Mohammed Sadr, an Iraqi religious leader killed by Saddam Hussein. According to estimates, there are about two million people living there in a six-square mile district, about as many as there are living in Houston, Texas.
The clinic is located one of Sard City’s more impoverished neighborhoods.
The 1st Force Service Support Group's medical logistics section here helped to put more than $800,000 worth of medical supplies into the hands of Iraqis in the Al Anbar province April 1, 2004.
The supplies include everything from multivitamins for children and arthritis and pain medication for the elderly, to anti-depressants for Iraqis suffering from mental health illnesses spawned from years of oppression.
Freedom and Peace Trust - a charitable organization working with the Marine Corps to deliver the supplies - purchased them with funds donated by U.S. corporations and collected by Direct Relief International, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., said Wasseem S. Kabbara, executive director of the charity.
The bright yellow ball bounced boldly out of the box as Iraqi children eagerly clamored to snatch the sphere from an Air Force chaplain’s hands.
One young Iraqi boy emerged victorious, waving the soccer ball wildly over his head before tossing it back and forth to a friend in the crowd gathered around an Air Force Humvee.
Members from the chaplaincy, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, medical squadron and security forces squadron of the 447th Air Expeditionary Group here recently conducted a humanitarian relief mission to Vedgha, Iraq.
“We want to try and make their lives better,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Rich Hall, the group’s head chaplain. “I think it’s important Iraqis see [the U.S. military has] a caring side to us, just as they have a caring side. There are many ways for us to reach out to their society. These visits are an excellent way for us to do that and show we care about their families.”
The team targeted family members as they handed out children’s clothing, shoes, food, medication and toys, Colonel Hall said.
Many of the villager’s babies do not get clothing until they are older, so baby clothing is a hot item, Colonel Hall said.
Bamyan University staff and dignitaries celebrate today the reopening in Bamyan of the university which had been closed for more than five years.
The school is ready to reopen with 14 classrooms and slots for more than 350 students. The project incorporates funding from New Zealand totaling US $187,000 for equipment and furnishings; and from the United States Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid totaling US $297,000 for construction...
The Bamyan Provincial Reconstruction Team was established in March 2003 and has been run by both American and New Zealand teams, which have provided engineering supervision of the University's reconstruction amongst other security and civil reconstruction projects. Currently the Bamyan PRT, led by Coalition members from New Zealand, is working on more than 30 projects worth more than US $3.5 million to be completed by mid 2004.
Although continued violence and security issues have challenged contractors working to rebuild Iraqi infrastructure, work in the country continues albeit at a somewhat slower pace, U.S. Agency for International Development and Bechtel National officials say.
Bechtel is the prime contractor for two USAID capital construction contracts in Iraq valued at more than $2 billion.
USAID has 41 infrastructure projects under way and about "90% of those are progressing as we expect," USAID spokeswoman Portia Palmer told enr.com April 22. USAID and Bechtel officials in Baghdad briefed reporters on construction progress earlier that day. Work slowdowns have occurred on three of the 41 projects, because of security concerns, Palmer said. She added that complete work stoppages have not occurred.