Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

A Photographer's Diary

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

A Photographer's Diary

Article excerpt

Last month I traveled to Iraq with Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, auxiliary bishop of Detroit Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockbum and Johanna Berrigan, physician assistant and cofounder of the House of Grace Catholic Worker in Philadelphia. As a photojournalist, it was my intent to document the effects of what nearly one year of war and occupation has meant for the people of Iraq.

The war and ongoing occupation have had a devastating effect on much of the Iraqi population. Many with whom we spoke were glad that Saddam was gone. But the overwhelming sentiment is disbelief that the United States could not have restored the infrastructure and brought peace and stability to the region by this time. Said one Iraq woman, "The. U.S. planned very well for war, but they didn't plan for peace."

The extent of the destruction, the effects of lawlessness, and the images of abject poverty and suffering were beyond my expectations. It was commonplace to see mounds of trash strewn alongside the roads and or most street comers, and children for-aging through the piles.

With their homes destroyed, people have camped in abandoned, bombed-out buildings. While we were there residents were protesting their forced eviction by the Coalition Provisional Authority. One woman pulled me aside to show me the identification cards of her children and other family members. "This is who they are evicting!" she declared. "Where are we to go?" As she pleaded with me to help her, she and other mothers began laying out the ID cards on the street for me to document their story. …

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