Friday, November 25, 2005

Greetings from Iraq I

An acquaintance of mine just moved to Iraq to work & will be e-mailing her regular updates on her experiences. With her permission, I will post her e-mails on my blog. Here's her first one:

I am in Iraq, having arrived on the 16th early am. Got delayed in Amman for a couple of days which allowed me to catch up on my sleep in very lovely room, worked out at great health club in the hotel.

Flew to Baghdad Nov 18 and am working at the IRI compound -a protected area in a residential neighborhood comprised of about six houses- then to Erbil on 25 -my new home away from home. A few hours before I arrived, Friday morning a car bomb blew up near our compound which is a few blocks from Al Hamra hotel (believed to be the target) where we had people training Iraqis. It blew out some windows in our compound. Exciting start. On our street we have a sheik and a wealthy member of the Janabi family so their 24-hour guards in addition to IRI's, my new employer, keep us quite safe.

I am being briefed in depth on the programs I will implement in northern Iraq along with about 10 local Iraqis. In addition to running the IRI office for northern Iraq (which includes the 5 northern governorates - the three major cities are Erbil, Kirkuk, Suleymania, and Mosel, I will be responsible for political party development to which I very much look forward. I will conduct trainings on how to build and grow political parties and develop plans to implement on how to encourage more Iraqis to become involved in the political process. We will also be working with civil society organizations, teaching them about the political process and government oversight. Very transferable skills from my many year career in government and public affairs.

I am very happy thus far and am quite optimistic that my expected 1-1 1/2 years in Iraq working on democracy building will be rewarding and fulfilling. The weather in Baghdad is perfect with temps much like Washington DC fall- quite a change from the summer where temperatures got up to 135 F. The North is a little cooler.