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April 17, 2008

Thanks from Baghdad

Todd Morris '08
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The text below is from an email sent by Todd Morris ’08 to his fellow EMBA students in thanks for a donation of medical supplies to a clinic he regularly assists. Morris is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and is currently serving as operations officer for Task Force Hurricane, which is a battery of 135 Navy personnel running a Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) base defense system for the Army. Reprinted with his permission.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your shipment of medical supplies. The boxes arrived Friday and I will take them to the clinic on Monday afternoon.

Visiting this clinic has been the highlight of my experience in Iraq. While I was there last week, I spoke with a veterinarian named Yousef. He runs a business tending to flocks of sheep and other livestock in the area. He also works at the clinic as a linguist.

On busy days, Yousef assists the doctors in treating patients. He told me that conditions [in west Baghdad] have improved in the last six months. Things were pretty gruesome in 2006 and early 2007, but they seem to be getting better. He also noted that recent violence has been a disruption to life and business in Baghdad.

Yousef and his wife (another veterinarian) are hoping to open a veterinary clinic in a building soon. USAID will be providing the equipment needed to make their vision for the clinic a reality. Coincidentally, USAID has partnered with Columbia’s Center for International Conflict Resolution in planning provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs). PRTs are civil/military teams that go about the business of smoothing “resource based conflicts.” So your contribution is working in tandem with a Columbia University initiative over here!

Your donations will help an Iraqi medical staff give their fellow citizens free medical treatment three days a week. The staff is now comprised of a pediatrician, two doctors, a dentist, a pharmacist and Yousef. The clinic is small, and often operates without electricity. Donated materials are the only supplies they have. Since supplies are limited, your contributions are a wonderful addition.

As [fellow EMBA student] Ann Marie noted, I will be heading home in another three weeks. If you have any desire to send further supplies this way, you can forward them care of the Army Major who oversees the clinic. [Diapers, formula and other basic medical supplies are all in need.]

Major Peter Buotte
411 Civil Affairs Iraq
HHC, 3BCT, 101 ABN
APO AE 09344

By the way, if anyone has an old microscope, Yousef told me he hopes to get back to his roots as a medical and veterinary researcher. While the promised USAID veterinary kit should include a microscope, there is no timetable for the kit’s arrival.

Ann Marie, thank you for coordinating this effort. Classmates, I am humbled by your generosity.

Best Regards,
Todd Morris