Salvation Army plans for continued Iraq relief
THE FIRST SALVATION ARMY pin in Iraq was hand made by a grateful Iraqi and given to Lt. Colonel Jan Mowery.
The Salvation Army has been providing relief work in Iraq for the past four months; plans are underway to determine the next stage of Salvation Army ministry. Western officers Lt. Colonel Jan Mowery and Major William Raihl, who served in Iraq and Kuwait, provide insights into the Army’s work there.
The Salvation Army began its relief work in Iraq due, in part, to its ability to place people quickly in the field and to mobilize the necessary logistics. Initially, the Army contracted with the United Nations to become an Implementing Partner—an agency with a contractual agreement to provide services in the name of the U.N. That agreement expired July 31. Now, the Army is reevaluating its work there.
“International headquarters has sent assessment personnel to Iraq to research the possibility of establishing mid- and possibly long-term programs,” said Major William Raihl. “One program looks promising in the Southern Iraqi city of Al Amarah. Its focus will be to promote children attending school and parents getting involved in the educational process.”
The city has no shortage of needy schools—over 300—almost all needing physical repairs as well as teachers, books, desks and the very basics of education.
Lt. Colonel Jan Mowery noted, “Education has always been very important to the Iraqi people. They are a very educated and bright people. The Iraqi education system once ranked among the best in the Arab world, producing a high literacy rate and a large class of educated citizens; the schools have suffered much damage as Saddam used them to store ammunition and some were used as barracks. Also, when the pressures of pure survival came upon the people, they had to pull their kids from school and put them in the market of trying to help earn a simple living—education being. put aside.”
Mowery visualizes using the school buildings in Al Amaraha’s after school programs, sports and youth center activities—giving the youth some meaningful activities to participate in, rather than being on the streets shooting guns—which seems to be their only pastime activity today. “Bob Namberg, an advisory board member from Phoenix, has very generously sent 100 soccer balls that will be used with this program in Al Amarah.”
“Iraq is a land teaming with new possibilities, yet still fraught with many dangers and uncertainty,” Raihl said. “Should the Army be in Iraq? Absolutely is my immediate answer. Is there a rough road ahead? Yes. Will the team face difficulty and hard times? Yes. Will God work through all of this and allow his will to be done? Without a doubt!”