" HOPE IS A THING OF THE PAST"

Chuck Quilty

Septemebr 13, 1997

At St. Raphael Hospital in Baghdad, a retired anesthesiologist railed at us about the state of medical practice in Iraq these days. He wasn't blaming us personally; but he felt the need to vent his frustration. In a corner of the same room, Sr. Marianne, the director of the hospital, wept quietly, her frustration too was being expressed by the doctor. Earlier she had said that for most people in Iraq "hope was a thing of the past." This seemed to capture the mood of Iraq for the 7th delegation of VItW. There is a palpable sense of hopelessness among the people that sanctions against them will end in time to salvage any sense of what little human dignity they can still muster about themselves. Despite some progress in food supplies under UN Resolution 986 (Oil-for- Food) , few medical supplies have reached Iraq. The spiral of disease and

hardship, along with deaths numbering in the tens of thousands has taken its toll and promises to impose its insidious effects even after ,if and when, sanctions end. I have returned again from Iraq nearly exhausted and wishing not to return until the sanctions are over. Yet I know I cannot walk away from the dying and suffering children of Iraq. I think of Jean Donovan's words from El Salvador before her cruel death asking whose heart could be so hard as to do the reasonable thing in the face of such cruelty and I echo her answer: "Not mine dear friend, not mine." I will return until these cruel sanctions end!

Chuck Quilty

Voices In the Wilderness

2412 - 8 1/2 Ave.

Rock Island, IL. 61201

PH: (309) 786-0157

E-Mail: cquilty@juno:com