With the political administration of the United States changing before the eyes of the nation, many are still wondering what is to become of the War in Iraq.
2.8 million Iraqis have left their homes for safer locations within the country and have been displaced for as many as five years because of the terror of this war. These people have been living without adequate food, water, and bathing supplies.
To assist these Iraqis in need, the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) has been working with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a Christian services organization, to assemble and collect relief kits for the displaced Iraqis.
Zachary Cooke, a sophomore, was the leader of the project which took place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 21. He and many other members of IVCF have been collecting items through tabling at the Campus Center and dormstorming.
Cooke learned about the Project while working with a Jubilee Partners, a Christian service community, over the summer.
The group was aimed toward peacemaking and social justice, and notified Cooke about the Project. He suggested the project to IVCF, who opened up the project to the St. Mary’s College campus.
As a result, IVCF collected a wide range of supplies from students. Items in the kits included shampoo, hairbrushes, bandages, toothpaste, powdered laundry detergent, soap and towels. IVCF has delivered the packages to the closest MCC drop-off location so that the items can be sent to the displaced people.
Monica Frantz, a senior who assisted with the Project, said, “I was impressed by how generous students were in giving items to the project…the Iraq Relief Project gives students the chance to begin to take action in an easy way.”
Jill Clemmer, also a senior who worked with the Project, added that “the Iraq Relief Project was one practical way to keep reminding myself that [students] can contribute in a positive way to people to who don’t currently have the basic material necessities to live.”
What the IVCF members appreciate most about this project is that it involves collecting practical supplies as opposed to money.
Frantz said, “Giving our extra things is a great way to start changing things…systems of injustice create situations which are easy to throw charity at… no amount of money will allow these refugees to return home.”
While the War is a touchy political issue for many students, IVCF hopes that students look past conservative and liberal beliefs to recognize the humanitarian issue at stake in Iraq.
Cooke said, “…what seems to be ignored is the fact that over a million Iraqis have died because of the war. There is a humanitarian crisis in Iraq… Yes, the war is a political issue but I believe we have a responsibility to help Iraqis because of our country’s involvement.”
If students are interested in further helping to fight this crisis in Iraq, they can still assemble kits independently and send them MCC. For more information, go to http://www.mcc.org/iraqrelief/.
Beyond giving supplies, there is still more work to do in aiding Iraq.
Frantz said, “Becoming aware of the issues is the first step, giving money and things is a great second step, but we cannot stop there, we must consider why there are people living in refugee camps to begin with.”