The Bombs are Still Exploding...
by Bettejo Passalaqua
March 26, 2003
(Sent March 25)
There was heavy bombing last night. Unbelievably, I slept through most of it.
For the most part I stayed in the hotel today taking care of paper work. I did go out in search of coffee - open stores are few and far between and we covered much ground and 6 stores before we could find a supply of coffee. I only mention this excursion so to note that life does go on. In lesser numbers, but nonethless present, are cars in the streets, people walking about people buying and selling, friends sharing hot cups of tea, and all the while bombs are exploding near and far.
Today there is a tremendous sandstorm. I would have thought that this would have stopped the bombing, as it seems it would be difficult to guide the missiles and planes with any precision, but apparently it is not a problem for guidance, or the military just isn't too concerned if mistakes are made.
The hospitals are receiving numerous civilian casualties. Members of our team have been going to the emergency rooms. We try to keep our numbers small in these visits so as not to get in the way or give the sense of sensationalizing these tragedies.
Eight year old Dema - one of the children here at the hotel whom I believe I have mentioned before - just came up to see what I was doing. She seemed disappointed that I was "busy." She wants to teach me Arabic. Unfortunately, she hasn't started learning English yet, so communication is a little difficult. However, this fact doesn't hinder her one bit. She talks her pretty little head off to me though I understand little. We are teaching each other by drawing pictures of various objects and then writing the words for the pictures in Arabic and English. Next year she will begin learning English in school.
Last night a few members of our team went to a hospital trauma center near here. A family was brought in while they were there. This family had fled Baghdad and were staying at a farm outside the city, being under the assumption it would be safer. The farm was bombed. Several of the members were seriously injured. An eight year old, Fatehah, was killed. Her body was still buried under the rubble of the house when the other family members were brought to the hospital. Fatehah's chance to learn English in school next year, to play the word games Dema plays, is gone. Her existence has been stolen by this war.
The glass of the front door of the hotel just shattered from the wind. And the bombs are still exploding. I will go now and play some word games with Dema.
Bettejo Marie Passalaqua is a teacher from Omak, Washington. She is currently in Baghdad with the Voices in the Wilderness' Iraq Peace Team, a group of international peaceworkers remaining in Iraq through the war, in order to be a voice for the Iraqi people in the West (www.iraqpeaceteam.org). The Iraq Peace Team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org