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Gallery ~ The Iraq Project ~ Harvest Aid Fund

Harvest Aid Fund and Response From Iraq

As the Letter of Apology was making its way to the farmers of Dhuluaya, Gibson and McClintock began a fundraising effort, and with the help of Jo Comerford of the Western Massachusetts AFSC, established the Harvest Aid Fund. Understanding that the war in Iraq was not only hurting Iraqis but also the families of US servicemen, they decided to split all funds raised between the Iraqi farmers and the USO Food Pantry connected with Westfield Air Force Base.

In November 2004, on Veterans’ Day with several local farmers who were supporting the project in attendance, Gibson, McClintock and Comerford presented the USO Food Pantry, with a check for $500 to help soldiers’ families. On receiving the funds, The director said, "I know sometimes military and civilian opinions don't coincide [about the war], but military people are also being hurt by the war. That you would think of them warms my heart. Our food pantry is busier than ever. This comes at a very opportune time for us. We thank you for thinking of both sides. This really makes a difference."

In November 2004, the situation in Iraq had deteriorated so much that the money from Harvest Aid was held in escrow for the Iraqi farmers until there was a way to deliver the donations. In the end, because Iraq continued to be so volatile, and the logistics of getting money to the farmers in Dhuluaya proved too difficult. Organizers decided to give the funds to Al Maarefa, a well regarded women's organization in Fallujah. The money was successfully wired to Al Maarefa, to use for a project related to agriculture. Although the farmers in Dhuluaya would not be helped directly, there is no question that farmers all over Iraq have suffered greatly as a result of this war. In April 2006, Gibson received word that Al Maarefa had given ten war widows from Abu Ghraib a ewe and a suckling lamb each, with funds from Harvest Aid. In a report from Al Maarefa, the Iraqi women’s center wrote:

"In the rural places of Iraq many families lost their breadwinner due to military operations since March 2003. Most of the women of such families are housewives, non- educated and have no skills. Some of them had experience in taking care of sheep… a source of milk, meat & money... During the coming months the ewe will continue having milk to feed the lamb. The families can benefit also from the milk to make yogurt and cheese. After that, if the lamb has reached a suitable size, the women can sell it and get benefit from its money. The ewe will be kept for a new pregnancy. The important point is that the widows will start helping each other to take care of the animals. The spirit of social helping will start again after all the suffering and pain."


Gallery

Bodhisattva Gallery
Story of the Altars
Text of Invocations

Food Altar Gallery
Story of the Altars

The Iraq Project
Dhuluaya Gallery
Apology Letter
Harvest Aid Fund

Past Work Gallery
Story of Past Work

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Ann Taylor Gibson    Conway, MA 01341
Photos of artwork by John Polack Photography, Easthampton, MA
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