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BOKO HARAM

 

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2006 Archive of Blog posts

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SoA featured in Wall Street Journal

Dan Henninger's Wonder Land OpEd column in the Wall Street Journal once again features information on Spirit of America. An excerpt is below. If you are a WSJ subscriber, you can read the interesting and timely article at www.online.wsj.com under the Opinion section.

"If someone this weekend says 'Happy New Year' in Iraq or Afghanistan, would anyone in the world hear it? For many, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan have become like trees falling in an empty forest...

It is ironic that despite the years of our daily engagement in these places, the 'information age' has brought us so little knowledge about the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Psychologically, much of American has already cut and run from these two countries.
Some Americans, though, simply won't.
In April 2004, this column told the story of Spirit of America, organized by Jim Hake to provide citizen-supported aid to the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan...
Groups such as Spirit of America...may yet be driven out. It is to this country's credit that early on, they voted with their feet to go in, and regret nothing."
Daniel Henninger, Wonder Land column in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, December 29, 2006.

Spirit of America at Work in Fallujah

 
While walking a patrol with the Iraqi Army in Fallujah last week, I ran across a group of young children heading to school. Many of them had backpacks, and all of the backpacks were identical. This immediately made me think of Spirit of America's school backpack program, so I contacted Jim Hake and Michele Redmond.
Michele is confident that these backpacks are indeed part of the Marines Benefit Day outreach program in Al Anbar province. The Marines Benefit Day program was conceived by LtCol Jeff Nagel and sought to put 60,000 backpacks in the hands of Iraqi children in western Iraq. Spirit of America contributed over 10,000 backpacks filled with school supplies, along with a gift and an Arabic-language book for children.
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It was just amazing to see this Spirit of America program at work in the heart of Fallujah. School supplies continue to be one of Spirit of America's most popular requests.
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Phase I Winter Clothing Started-More Needed

Initial purchases totaling nearly $20,000 for the US Troops Request Winter Clothing project have begun. Over 800 blankets, 600 jackets and scarves are being shipped via military mail for requests from Major Scott Kish serving in Ramadi, US Marine Captain Karen Anderson stationed in the remote area of Al Qaim near the Syrian Border and the 2D Battalion, 3D Marines Captain Jeff Liebenguth and 2nd Lieutenant Jason Wengel in Al Anbar Province.

Being able to protect yourself and your family from the elements is such a basic right of life. And, as the request from Marines Liebenguth and Wengel attests "it will be the children of Iraq that will suffer the effects of the winter cold the most". Sending a blanket or a coat is a small gesture, but one that may leave a lasting impression--both for the receiver and the giver. If you have large donations of blankets, tarps, jackets or sweaters that you would like to contribute to this project, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include "Winter Clothing Donation" in the subject line.

Soccer Equipment & School Supplies on the Way to Iraq

This time of year, with shoppers navigating crowded malls balancing shopping bags filled to the brim with Holiday presents, it's hard to imagine what life is like for children caught up in the midst of war. For many children in Iraq and Afghanistan, simple things like soccer balls nets and school supplies are in short supply.

During this season of giving, we are so grateful for our donors who allow us to respond to military requests to give gifts..and hope..to children. Thanks to your donations to SoA's Gifts for Children project, soccer balls and nets are on their way to U S Marine Sergeant Dean Marquart to compliment their work to refurbish a school in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

In addition, over 2250 school backpacks filled with supplies will be distributed by Army Civil Affairs team member Les Moton for schoolchildren in Balad, Iraq and to Major Britt Rosenberry stationed in Fallujah. You can read an account of Bill Roggio's meeting with the Major in the blog, School Supplies for the Children of Al Anbar.Major Rosenberry wrote to us in his initial request,

"We are faced with terrorists trying to close schools and convince the population they do not need a formal education. In order to keep kids interested, we've been handling out backpacks with notebooks and pens/pencils. The kids (and parents) can't get enough of them."

School Supplies for the Children of Anbar

Since Fallujah was wrested from the control of al-Qaeda and the insurgency in November of 2004, the Coalition and Iraq government have worked to restore security and basic services the warn-torn city. Major Britt Rosenberry, stationed in Camp Fallujah, has 3-man teams who patrol with the Army and Marine Infantry throughout the entire Al Anbar Province. They interact with the citizens and concerned with their plight.

This generation of kids are the key to Iraq's future success. Al-Qaeda and the insurgency has been conducting a "Taliban-like campaign" to close down schools, keep children uneducated. They harass and intimidate principals (called headmasters) and teachers. This year, a headmaster was kidnapped in front of the students and later assassinated.

One of Major Rosenberry's highest priorities is the children. They are highly susceptible to insurgent propaganda, and a ripe for recruitment by the insurgents. "Schools are easy targets," said Major Rosenberry. "The Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army patrol the city, but are not always providing overwatch to fixed locations." To counter the intimidation of al-Qaeda closing schools, they are secretly opened in homes. But this comes at a cost. Some children may travel up to two hours a day for two hours of
instruction. And the provincial schools, whether they are established or clandestine, need supplies. School books, notebooks, pens pencils and other school items are in short supplies.

To fill this need, Major Rosenberry asked for help from home. "Don't send the fat pill," the care package filled with candy, Major Rosenberry told friends and family back home. "Send us notebooks and pens."

Not only do the school supplies help the Iraq children, but they help to defeat al-Qaeda and insurgency. "When fighting an information war, it is important to back up words with actions," said Major Rosenberry. Providing the school supplies allows the Coalition and Iraqi security forces to live up to their commitment to keeps schools open. The mission also introduces the children to the Iraqi security forces and U.S. soldiers and Marines. "They get to see we are human. They laugh, we makes jokes. We take off the gear and by the time we leave we're exchanging hugs. When we return, they recognize us."

Bill Roggio writes at billroggio.com and is currently embedded in Iraq.

Iraqi Children Receive School Supplies and Hope

Les Moton serving with Army Civil Affairs stationed in Balad, Iraq sent us these delightful pictures of thankful schoolchildren receiving their school supplies donated by Spirit of America as part of our Gifts for Children project.

School supplies and backpacks are very well-received by Iraqi children who not only get the practical benefits of much-needed supplies but also the encouragement of having strangers reach out in kindness.

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LIFE Perseveres Through Tragedy to Deliver Books

LIFE organization, which has been a valued partner in our Library Books for Iraqi Children project, tragically lost their Director of Programs in Baghdad, Abdul-Sattar Abdullah Al-Mashhadani, when he was killed at a checkpoint reportedly run by sectarian militias last month.

Despite these devastating circumstances, they remain committed to their mission of improving conditions in Iraq. Their dedicated staff recently received the 40' ocean container packed with library books for 9 schools in Iraq purchased from Books-A-Million with funds generously donated by SoA supporters and friends.  Look for photos and updates of the installation of the books as soon as we received them.

Tagging along with this shipment were 4,000 textbooks collected by students and teachers at Ball High School in Galveston, Texas. US Marine Colonel David Couvillon, who was one of SoA's first requestors in Iraq, approached us to help with transport of these books bound for Wasit University in Iraq. LIFE personnel graciously facilitated delivery of the books from Baghdad to the university in Al-Kut. Below are pictures of the delivery to grateful school officials.

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Anoniblogging Spreading Around the Globe

Quick update on SoA's Anoniblogging project--SoA's BlogSafer site, the main platform in our Anoniblogging project, has received over 14,000 visitors to date. And most importantly, the hits came from the following countries: Saudi, US, Kuwait, Iran, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Malaysia, Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, Norway and Oman.


No endorsement of Spirit of America by the US Department of Defense or its personnel is intended or implied.