Our Peace and Justice group became a sponsor of the Iraqi Student Project this past year and we're working at the local level to support a young man studying engineering in the hopes of returning to Iraq to work on reconstruction. ISP brings Iraqi students to the U.S. to study subjects like architecture and civil engineering so they can become leaders in creating a more sustainable society in their homeland.
Unsure of who might show up and how much cash we might raise, we put on a spaghetti dinner to generate funds and raise awareness locally about ISP's mission. Friday night's event was a big success thanks to the hard work of many. We made over $2,000. Equally important, the chance to come together and have fun while paradoxically engaging some hard realities. Iraq is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and even in Metro Detroit--an area teeming with both immigrants and refugees from Iraq--we often ignore or forget. After years of both a brutal dictatorship and devastating sanctions and bombings, the ongoing war has further crippled infrastructure there.
I can't say how gratifying it was to see members of our church connect with ISP as well as various dinner guests and attendees. A genuine coming-together. Cooking for hundreds of people offers quite a rush. I loved it, and of course couldn't have managed without my family and the labor, moral support, and supplies they offered. I learned a bit about technique (electric roasters are beautiful for making and maintaining the warmth of sauce), amounts (a ten-pound big of ziti yields three aluminum trays of pasta), and timing (when we start serving tray number three, the next batch of pasta better be in the water). I'm ready to start planning for next time.