In July, 2003 Kelly returned from her second trip to Iraq, where she
found some of the children and women who touched her so deeply
during her first visit. She saw firsthand the impact of the bombings
and invasion on innocent people's lives, homes and hearts. The trip
revealed much devastation - and much inspiration.
She has been addressing audiences throughout California about the
people she met - and remet - in Baghdad, Hillah, Babylon, Fallouja,
Basra and Umm Qasr.
beginning of this war, Kelly has been
enthusiastically received by over 200 audiences, addressing a
delegation of Congresswomen in the Capitol, religious congregations,
state women's conferences, high school and middle school classes,
community clubs, large peace rallies and small neighborhood
meetings. She has compelling photos and vivid stories that humanize
our opposition to this war.
BABYLON - Tower of Babel: I got married today. Before the
Gulf War, Iraqi soldiers were encouraged to marry and impregnate
their new wives. Consequently, there are a lot of widowed mothers
struggling in post-war Iraq.
BAGHDAD - Backgammon in Baghdad: A Voices in the
Wilderness volunteer from Kansas held a fundraiser for a children's
center. Bowling for Baghdad featured bootleg rum and a bowling match
between activists and reporters (reporters won). I was much more
popular as a bartender than as a bowler: I have not the slightest
clue about the proportion of rum to coke and apparently erred on the
rum side. On the other hand, I guttered twice. Games are big in
Iraq. Every afternoon, young men gather across the street from our
hotel for their football (soccer) matches. Every evening, older men
gather in coffee houses for their domino and backgammon matches.
SANTA MONICA - Re-Entry: The Columbia explosion occurred
right after I'd arrived in Baghdad. I felt guilty: one is supposed
to be home to share tragedies. I was half a world away and helpless.
I can't shake the faces and the voices of the people who touched me
during my 10 days in Iraq. There's a national tragedy occurring
there, and I'm half a world away and helpless.
BAGHDAD - Iraqi Children Are War's Greatest Casualties: I
met Sura, a 12-year-old Iraqi girl, at Baghdad's Amariyah bomb
shelter, where over 400 men, women, boys and girls like her went to
escape a night of bombing during the '91 Gulf War. A U.S. bomb
pierced the ceiling, curling the 1/2" steel like shaved chocolate,
and incinerated the cowering families.
AMMAN, JORDAN - The Road to Baghdad: I'm convinced there is
no way to fully prepare for this trip over the road to Baghdad. I
haven't slept more than 5 hours in the last three weeks, and the
last few days have been no exception. Nerves, heat, jet lag,
anticipation pop me awake at 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 am.
BAGHDAD - Sura: Soura in Arabic means photo - that
exaggerated, frozen moment trusted to accurately reflect an
experience. Over time, a photograph can become its own story,
sharpening events that may never have existed while its actual
images dim. So I feared it might be with Sura, the vivacious
brown-eyed beauty with whom I spent ten minutes in February in
Baghdad. My brief encounter with this 12-year-old - and the portrait
photo I took of her innocent optimism - came to represent my
country's attempts to shape her country's future.
BAGHDAD - America's Rebuilding Shuts Out Iraqis: While in
Baghdad in July, I sneaked into a Bechtel meeting. I had heard that
the American company held regular, public briefings for Iraqis
interested in bidding for rebuilding contracts. As I found my way to
room 202 of the Sheraton Hotel, however, I was in fact entering a
private, non-descript suite with the only "no smoking" sign I saw in
Iraq. I slipped in as if I were an invited VIP guest, smiling
confidently to the burly Iraqi who sat bouncer-like behind an
imposing desk. From my seat on the couch, I had a clear view of
Randy Jackson, of Dallas, Texas, whose represented Bechtel in
choosing which Iraqis received contracts to rebuild the damage at
the airport, such as fences that American tanks had demolished.
BAGHDAD, FALLOUJA, BASRA - Sanctions and Bombings Take Toll on
Iraq's Children: "I can't wait to get back to LA and clean out
my lungs," I joked sarcastically while in Baghdad in July. Three
wars, twelve years of sanctions and two decades of rule by a cruel,
uncaring tyrant have left Iraqis - especially children - with high
rates of respiratory diseases, typhoid, chronic dysentery and
BAGHDAD - Child Beggars Are the Hardest Hit During War:
The one I wanted to wrap in my arms and bring home was Nebras. I
didn't even know her name when I went to Iraq in July; I was armed
only with a photo of a beggar touching her nose with her tongue.
BAGHDAD - War Hits Home for an Iraqi Family: "I told my children, if we are
going to die, we should die together in the house," the solemn man
said through an interpreter, describing early morning bombing in his
neighborhood during the recent US "shock and awe" assault in Iraq.
SANTA MONICA - In
Memory of Marla Ruzicka: I
just learned someone I knew died in Iraq. I have no right
mourning her death because I barely knew her, yet I cannot stop
aching. Marla Ruzicka was 28 years old, and was the
third person I met in Iraq to die since the U.S. invasion and