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The schoolchildren of Baghdad are in dire need of basic school supplies!  The information below comes from Major Robert Bateman, the articulate U.S. military man whose letters appear frequently on Eric Alterman's blog Altercation.  He gave me permission to spread the word and so I am creating a diary in the hopes of engaging other Kossacks in this worthy project.  

Please read this plea below and join me in this project to help the innocent and suffering schoolchildren of Baghdad.  If you can't donate supplies, please recommend this diary so as many people as possible can see it.  And please feel free to send this plea out to other blogs and to your friends.

As for myself, this opportunity gives me a way, albeit small, to do something positive and empowering in response to this dreadful war.

Here is Major Bateman, in his own words, from the November 16 Altercation:

Major Bob Bateman
Dateline: Baghdad, Iraq

..........People often write to me and ask what they might send to support us here.  I generally redirect them, or decline.  We are well provisioned, and what we want (sleep, beer, sex), we cannot have anyway.  But now I do have a request.  A direct plea.  We need school supplies.  Well, we don't need them, some Iraqi kids do.

In the past some of us in this unit have taken supplies to various schools in the Baghdad area.  One very generous batch came from an Altercation reader as a matter of fact, some months ago.  But it has always been on a haphazard basis and generally only when we can fit it in as an adjunct to a mission we might be doing in the same area.  It has also been dependant upon what happened to come in from various unorganized donations from friends and family back home.  I want to change that.

There is a school nearby, three schools actually, and as with all elements of the Iraqi educational system, they could use help.  We think that the total enrollment is somewhere in the vicinity of one-thousand.  I want to flood this school with all of the pens, paper, notebooks, erasers, chalk, and any other school supply you can think of, as well as any toy you think that kids might want.  The ages range from 6-13, but we think that one of the buildings nearby is a high-school.  Optimally, if there is a benevolent somebody upstairs (FSM anyone?), some Altercation readers are in a position to establish a "sister-school" program as well.

If you are interested in helping you can write to Major Bob at Bateman_Maj@hotmail.com .

I wrote to Major Bateman and received this reply, with instructions:

Great! If you want to send some school supplies, this is, generically, what
the kids need.  This list is not exhaustive (please, feel free to use your
imagination as well), but can be used as a starting point.

First, the basics:

Number 2 Pencils and pencil sharpeners
Pens (ball-point)
Tablets of Paper (spiral notebooks especially)
Folders and/or organizers
Rulers
Scissors (safety)
Crayons
Magic Markers
Construction Paper

Then, if you're feeling fancy or expansive:

* Bookbags (Iraqi kids have now seen American television. They see our kids
wearing bookbags.and want them too. Go figure.)

  • Coloring Books

  • Art kits (watercolor paints, etc)

  • Science projects (should be simple, although most science teachers can
read some English here)

  • Discarded (but working) computers.

  • Calculators

Guiding principals should be to keep it simple, and it should not be
something needing translation. Also, and this should be obvious, but nothing
with any religious overtones at all. If you really want to do it right, buy
some one-gallon bags and package the supplies in batches (so that each kid
can be given a bag with supplies all at once). That way we can walk into a
classroom and hand out 30 bags to 30 kids all at one pop. You know the deal,
if you're going to chew gum in the classroom...you have to have enough for
everyone. We try to make sure (with their teachers) that everyone gets an
equal amount.

The person to send your donations to is:

SFC  L.  Wensink
SCHOOL SUPPLIES
MNSTC-I,  J5
Baghdad, Iraq
APO  AE  09316

SFC Wensink will be here for ten more months. Include a note with your
e-mail address so we can write back and thank you. Hopefully past that point
we can set up something more direct to sustain the support for these
schools. Feel free to cross post anywhere you think it might help.

Thanks, and regards from Baghdad,

           Bob Bateman

So, dear Kossacks, please jump in and help with this project.  I'm going to spend the Thanksgiving holiday planning and shopping for these kids as I give thanks for the safety of my own children and the comfort of my own little world.  Peace.

Originally posted to Radiowalla on Mon Nov 21, 2005 at 08:59 AM PST.

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