Fundraiser aims to help Iraqi families

The Coalition was founded in 2001 and has been concerned with the welfare of the Iraqi people since its conception.

Timothy Baer, organizer for the Coalition, said the 2003 invasion of Iraq is part of a much larger conflict that began with the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and continued through economic sanctions on Iraq as well as a bombing campaign by Great Britain and the U.S. in the late 1990s.

Singers and songwriters Deborah and Jonathan Hutchison performed, playing original music as well as bringing a few jokes to the crowd.

“What did the snail riding on the tortoise say?” Deborah asked.

“Whee!” someone in the crowd yelled.

“I guess everybody’s heard my jokes,” she replied.

Sandrine Catris, a member of the Indiana Students Against War, attended. Students Against War regularly organizes with the Peace Action Coalition.

“Not my type of music,” Catris said. “I’m here because the money is going to the people of Iraq.”

Between the performances of the Hutchisons, refreshments were provided by Anatolia, a Turkish restaurant, as well as the Islamic Center of Bloomington.

Following the intermission, Noah Baker Merrill of Direct Aid Iraq gave a short speech. Direct Aid Iraq focuses on building relationships between U.S.-based aid organizations and workers as well as medical professionals in Iraq.

Baker Merrill said the organization has raised $150,000 in addition to medical and other supplies donated since the organization’s founding.

Baker Merrill said Direct Aid Iraq has seven active members in the United States who work at least part-time, as well as over 1,700 supporters, also based in the United States. The U.S. branch operates with the Middle Eastern branch, located in Amman, Jordan. They also have workers in Syria and Lebanon.

“We needed a channel, basically, to get the money through,” he said.

The benefit was organized by Baer as well as Christine Glaser. Glaser is an immigrant from Worms, Germany, and received her citizenship last year. She was named Bloomington’s Woman of the Year.

The benefit concluded with a short film about families in Iraq, entitled “Remember Iraq.”
Remember Iraq is also the title of Direct Aid Iraq’s current campaign, which is focused on remembering the relations between Iraq and the United States.

“Remembering relationships is an important thing to do,” Baker Merrill said. “That action is particularly radical and important today.”              

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