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Old 04-04-2004, 08:42 AM   #1
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Operation Iraqi Children

I've seen a bit about this on the news the past few days. The actor Gary Sinise and the screenwriter of Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand, have started this organization to gather mostly school supplies for the children in Iraq.

Gary went there for the USO and saw the conditions of the schools there, including at times three children sharing one pencil. There are about 1,500 schools that need help. Also you can give a donation for Arabic translations of the book Seabiscuit.

Their web site is


They have projects for schools and organizations to donate, but I don't think they'd turn down any donations of supplies from individuals. You can get all the info on their web site.

Here's part of the story re how Laura got involved..

The Seabiscuit program began with an email. On the day of Saddam Hussein's capture in December, 2003, Army Lt. Col. Sherman McGrew sent Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand a note from Balad, Iraq, telling her about how he had taken a copy of her book on a mission to administer medical care to girls at a dilapidated village school. For several months, McGrew and his fellow soldiers had been bringing assistance to Iraqi schools, which they had found in shocking condition. Not far from Saddam's opulent palaces, children struggled to learn in tumbledown, windowless buildings trafficked by stray animals that defecated on the floors. The schools had no libraries, books, blackboards or even the most basic supplies.

As McGrew worked with the girls, he noticed them taking interest in his Seabiscuit book. McGrew sat them down, and through a translator, told them about the great racehorse who had rallied the hopes of America in the depths of the Depression. The story, McGrew found, had special appeal to the children, whose culture enjoyed an ancient, flourishing tradition of horse racing, and whose homeland, freed from tyranny, was just opening up to the hope and possibility that form the theme of Seabiscuit's narrative. In the girls, for whom books were exciting novelties, McGrew found a rapt audience. He told them that maybe they too could grow up to write best selling books, and idea that met with wonder among girls accustomed to a society that was severely oppressive to women. McGrew's only regret, he wrote, was that he couldn't give the book to the girls in their native Arabic.

The idea. McGrew's story, and the plight of Iraqi children, were deeply moving to Hillenbrand, who began looking into ways to get her book to the children in their native language. Through her Arabic language publisher, Nahdet Misr in Egypt, she and McGrew arranged to purchase copies for the children McGrew had met as well as kids in neighboring villages. Word of the effort spread, and soon Hillenbrand found herself deluged in emails from people from across the country who wanted to make donations to buy more books for the children. "The response was extraordinary," remembers Hillenbrand. "Once people learned of how little these children had, and how hard our soldiers were working to help them, they were very excited about joining in.
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