Iraq relief team gains new members

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Following participation in IHQ’s International Emergency Services’ disaster-management training, John Berglund, western territorial disaster training coordinator, was deployed to The Salvation Army’s Iraq Relief Program for six weeks, beginning November 8, 2003.

When asked about his deployment, Berglund explained, “It’s a specific calling that requires spiritual peace, physical fitness, and mental preparation.”

The Al Amarah Community Recovery project, located five hours north of Kuwait City in the Shiite community of Al Amarah, is the third phase of the Iraq Relief Program.

The project focuses on four specific areas of recovery: (1) the refurbishment of schools, (2) the refurbishment of clinics, (3) the provision of training for children and adult learning centers, and (4) the support and facilitation of community restoration programs. To date, the project is involved with the refurbishment of 18 schools and four clinics; the oversight of three sanitation projects; the distribution of humanitarian aid to over 11,000 families; and the creation of community affairs programs, providing sewing classes, computer classes, and children’s camps.

In addition, there is a hospital equipment repair project, an employment program, and a refugee repatriation program that’s providing housing for 45 families returning from Iran.

Salvation Army personnel for the project consist of a two-person support team in Kuwait City, and a five-person frontline team based in Al Amarah that employs 15 local Iraqis, including translators, drivers, guards, and engineers. Currently, the Kuwait City support team is Lloyd and Yvonne Cooper, Canada. The frontline team in Al Amarah includes: Brian Oxley, a retired police chief from the United Kingdom; Major Daniel Raju, social services secretary, India Central; Major Helen Birch, United Kingdom; Major Molly Shotzburger, Eastern Territory, USA; and John Berglund, Western Territory, USA.

The first phase of the relief program began last April in Kuwait City. Using propane gas donated by the Government of Kuwait, a distribution program was created in partnership with several other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Iraq. The Salvation Army’s role was to deliver 120 tons of bottled propane from Kuwait City to Umm Qasr, Iraq, where it was then distributed by The Salvation Army’s partnering agencies.

The second phase of the relief program was in partnership with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The Salvation Army provided logistical support for the operation by assigning oversight teams of two persons each in 6 locations across southern Iraq. The teams were responsible for facilitating food distribution at the WFP warehouses, resulting in the delivery of food aid to an estimated six million people.

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