Women of the Mahmudiyah Qada filled tables with homemade products and Iraqi souvenirs during a special bazaar on Forward Operation Base Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, Feb 17.
Sponsored by Soldiers of Task Force 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, the innovative event gave troops stationed on the southern base the opportunity to purchase items and assist neighboring Iraqi families at the same time.
â€œThis is a great way for local women to improve their small businesses and take care of their families,â€ said Capt. Sara Woods, with the 445th Civil Affairs Battalion. â€œIt also allows our Soldiers to purchase authentic Iraqi souvenirs and gifts.â€
Many of the women in the Mahmudiyah area lost their husbands to insurgent violence and struggle to provide for their families; making them easy targets for insurgents. The bazaar served as a way to show them they can create a better future for their families.
â€œThis is a good project that is helping widows and people who need the money. I am so happy to be a part of it,â€ said Madiha Gumar, one of the small business owners, and a member of the Mahmudiyah Womenâ€™s Group.
This is the second bazaar Soldiers of TF 1-63 CAB have had the opportunity to be involved with and was much larger and had more participants than the first. Those who took part in the bazaar felt, not only they were walking away with something to take home, but also giving back to the local Iraqi community.
â€œIt was very beneficial in what weâ€™re trying to do for Iraq. From a personal stand point it was really gratifying to know we were helping the widows and their children,â€ said Dale Hamilton, a civilian law enforcement professional attached to TF 1-63 CAB.
Although the bazaar was considered a success at the end of the day, it also presented a foundation for each woman present to continue and expand her business.
â€œThey came in and they sold these products to the Soldiers, and I think each one of them walked out with a couple hundred dollars,â€ said Lt. Col. Anne Resty, a Womenâ€™s Initiative coordinator. â€œSo now afterwards they can buy more fabric and other materials to make more products that they can sell in the local markets as well.â€
The event also helped to increase the good relationship between the people of Mahmudiyah and the MND-B Soldiers stationed on FOB Mahmudiyah.
â€œThe more they see us as helpful Americans and they get to know us, they get to know that we have children, they get to know that we have spouses, and they get to know that weâ€™re just normal peopleâ€¦and the benefits are multi-faceted,â€ said Resty. â€œTheyâ€™re going to think of us as normal people and that we can help them.â€
Posts Tagged ‘iraqi women’
One hundred women graduated from an adult literacy course at Al-Sharquia Secondary School for Girls in the Karadah security district of eastern Baghdad Dec. 4.
The graduates, their family members and other ceremony attendees gathered to celebrate what was the first of potentially many successful adult literacy classes.
â€œThis is the first step of many that the Iraqi government has taken to ensure economic growth in the Karadah district,â€ said Capt. Sean Oâ€™Brien, non-lethal effects coordinator with 5th Battalion 25th Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Multi-National Division â€“ Baghdad. â€œThe next step is to employ them.â€
Many of the graduates are widows, explained Hadeel Adel, an Iraqi non-government organization representative and advocate for womenâ€™s rights. She said the literacy course graduates will be able to use their new skills to study for a civil service examination to seek government employment.
â€œThis is a monumental day for these women. You can see the future of Iraq in their faces,â€ exclaimed Adel. â€œThese women will get jobs and relieve the stress on the local economy by providing for their familiesâ€
Adel expressed hopes for a continued partnership between the United States and Iraq and said she wishes that womenâ€™s rights in Iraq will someday mirror the rights women have in America.
Their graduation marked a successful day for these literate women of Baghdad, and now they possess the power to learn through reading.
Not everyone who dies in our fight against terror is a man. Here is the story of a woman, a Marine, who died in the service of her country. God bless Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell.
Cpl. Martin R. Harris / Marine Corps via AP
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell, 20, of Bel Air, Md., died Feb. 7  while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Parcell was assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.
Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell, a landing support specialist with Okinawa, Japan-based Combat Logistics Regiment 3, assumed her billet with the Lioness program Feb. 1 , according to a spokesman for III Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa. The program uses female Marines from different military occupational specialties to search Iraqi woman at checkpoints.
Parcell, who was a few weeks shy of returning to Okinawa, was killed when an Iraqi woman she was searching detonated an explosive vest, the release said.
Marine Corps Times
By Beth Zimmerman
Table of contents for Lioness
Cpl. Rebekah D. Hall, combat engineer and female search team member with Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, and a member of the ‘Sisters of Fallujah,’ search hand-bags for contraband at an entry control point. The group of Iraqi women came together in December 2007 to help U.S. forces stop the smuggling of contraband into the city of Fallujah. In the past, women and children have been used to smuggle forbidden items that can be used to make improvised explosive devices, as well as other items that are not allowed into the city for the safety of the citizens who live there. “Before, we did all the searching ourselves,” said Hall, from San Diego. “Now, we work together and supervise the search techniques that have been taught to the Sisters of Fallujah.”
Marines on a female search team and Iraqi women with the â€œSisters of Fallujahâ€ program have been working together at an entry control point here to help make the city of Fallujah a safer place.
The program was formed because females were needed to search other females. In Islamic tradition, a man touching a woman who is not his wife is considered offensive.
Just like Iraqi security forces that have been assuming more responsibilities, Iraqi women are striving to do the same with the help of Marine FSTs.
â€œ(The Sisters of Fallujah) are our eyes and ears inside the booth, where we cannot go,â€ said Sgt. William A. Lamascus, sergeant of the guard of ECP-1. â€œIt helps to have them here because when they find things, they bring it to our attention.â€
Sisters of Fallujah came together in December 2007, to help stop the smuggling of contraband into the city. In the past, women and children have been used to transport forbidden items that can be used to make improvised explosive devices, as well as other items that are not allowed into the city for the safety of the citizens who live there.
â€œI wanted to help the people be safe in their own city,â€ said a Sister of Fallujah.
â€œIt is our job to put forth the effort to stop bad people from bringing in contraband,â€ she said after being with the group for four months.
Some days are busier than others.
â€œToday is Otlah, a holiday for Iraqi people or the weekend,â€ said another Sister. â€œToday, we searched a little more than 2,000 people at this checkpoint.â€
Marines help the Iraqi women on these busy days with the daunting task of searching all the women and children that go into the city.
â€œWe are out here to make sure that the searches are done correctly,â€ said Lance Cpl. Corina J. Hernandez, basic water support technician and FST member with Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group. â€œThey do a really good job and they care about what they do.â€
The Sisters of Fallujah risk their own lives each day, as well as their familiesâ€™, to help fight terrorism.
â€œThey are more concerned about other peopleâ€™s safety than their own,â€ said Hernandez, from Dededo, Guam.
â€œBefore, we did all the searching ourselves,â€ said Cpl. Rebekah D. Hall, combat engineer and FST member with CLB-1, 1st MLG. â€œNow, we work together and supervise the search techniques that have been taught to the Sisters of Fallujah.â€
Hall, from San Diego, said being a part of the FST gives her a sense of accomplishment here in Fallujah. She added that the female Marines also provided security for the Sisters of Fallujah.
â€œThis is how we can help out the infantry guys,â€ said Hall.
For Lance Cpl. Amanda M. Molina, basic water support technician and FST member with CLB-1, 1st MLG, this was her first time working with the Sisters of Fallujah.
â€œIt was interesting to see a different culture,â€ said Molina, from Fullerton, Calif. â€œI feel like I am needed. It was a good experience to be able to work with the Sisters of Fallujah.â€
Story by Lance Cpl. Robert Medina
Cpl. Nicole K. Estrada, a 21-year-old from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., received a kiss or “bosa” from a local boy in Rutbah, Iraq. During her time as a Lioness, Estrada befriended local women and practiced Arabic with some when they passed the traffic control point.
â€œIraq is full of pop tarts.â€ In every mess hall, packed in every care package, sitting in a box at the back of our classroom and now written on the wall of a bathroom stall in Al Asad.
I went to Al Asad for Lioness training with Regimental Combat Team 5. Iâ€™m a combat correspondent without any combat experience. Although Iâ€™m now a journalist for the Marine Corps, I have always been a journal-keeper of some sort.
A combat photographer, a field wireman and a cook with 1st Marine Logistics Group also volunteered for the program. This was our opportunity to serve a more direct role in this war. As females, being a Lioness gave us a rare opportunity to work â€œoutside the wire,â€ away from our desk jobs and away from working with tape recorders, cameras, wires and spatulas.
Our job was to search Iraqi females for suicide vests, fake identification and contraband at vehicle and entry control points in an effort to diminish the threat of female suicide bombers, while keeping in mind the gender sensitivities of the nationals.
The training course to prepare us for our duties included things we were already familiar with, such as rules of engagement, escalation of force, a combat lifesaver course and techniques from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program we may need for self-defense. We fired our rifles and the AK-47s at the range, learned about sniper threats and the history of suicide bombers. We even had the opportunity to touch suicide vests retrieved after a failed terrorist attack.
Touching the vest brought the reality of the news straight to my hands. One was gray and made with fabric from a soldierâ€™s gear. It made me think of the belts worn by some newborn babies to protect the skin still attached to their belly buttons. That started a train of thought leading me to think of all the mothers who may have lost someone in this war. They could use their anger as an excuse to make something similar to what I was holding.
At the time, news of female suicide bombers was everywhere. In February two women executed a deadly attack in a Baghdad pet market, killing 99 people. The attack was one of several in the past year, making it seem to me like humans, not vehicles, were becoming the preferred method of transporting explosives. It made me wonder if terrorists had exhausted one tactic and moved on to another.
The news was probably what kept me awake through all the hours of wearying power point presentations.
The Arabic-language class was probably the most helpful training we received. Everyday for at least an hour, Arabic greetings and commands were pounded into our brains. I would practice at night before going to sleep. Our lead training instructor emphasized the importance by making us state phrases repeatedly throughout the day.
â€œOni imraâ€™ah, elbis shari fowq,â€ we said. It means â€œI am a woman wearing my hair pulled back.â€
It got to the point where I would forget the meaning of the sentence I was spitting out.
We learned of our destinations a day before our departure. We would be heading out to Rutbah. On the map, it seemed so far away from everything. It is a city in the far-western al-Anbar province and is a crossroads linking Baghdad to the Syrian border.
I packed light, bracing myself for the travel. Traveling with all my protective gear on and combat load is serious business in the heat but I couldnâ€™t complain yet because I still had a busy month or two ahead of me. I would wear my 30-pound flak jacket several weeks and for several hours throughout the day.
We arrived in Rutbah after a short helicopter ride and a few hours later convoyed to the traffic control point where weâ€™d be working.
My stomach turned when I saw a multitude of children run to the convoy to wave hello. It was just strange to me to see the large group of kids running around, like the entire city was their playground.
Apart from the children walking around, there were also sheep in the street, dozens of dirty dogs and trash everywhere. The trail of trash continued on to the traffic control point. The way it was caught on the barbed wires and lying against the protective barriers, it was like gaudy wallpaper for the perimeter.
The Lionesses we were relieving seemed excited to meet us, as they were ready to hand over responsibility of their post. They also gave us a tour of the area, showing us the mess hall, showers, an area recently damaged by mortars and finally, the female search area.
The post was nothing like what I thought it may look like, although I barely had an idea of what to expect. Anyways, I donâ€™t think anything would have made feel completely safe given our situation and unfamiliar surroundings.
â€œAll it would take is one,â€ a staff sergeant later put it. The sergeant on post spun us up on the way they did business there, the mood of the people they deal with and in return let us bombard her with questions.
Sometime between then and the morning, before falling asleep on our cots in a room made of sand-barrier walls, we decided our special word in case of an emergency at the post. If we ever felt threatened, our secret word to alert our partner would be â€˜pop tart.â€™
Itâ€™s what we had become tired of eating and what we didnâ€™t want the women to do â€“ pop.