Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Hart, who returned to Portland a week ago after a month in Iraq, said images of bombings and gunfire in Baghdad give a distorted impression of progress being made toward peace.

"I'm a lot more optimistic now than when I left" for Iraq, Hart said Monday...

The strategy of Mercy Corps and other nongovernmental organizations has been to use community meetings to find out from villagers what projects they would like to see.

During community meetings, he said, "you can see the diversity of thought effervescing up. . . . It has never happened since anybody can remember."

One Mercy Corps project reconstructed almost 20 miles of irrigation canal, providing water for 40,000 people. It cost $80,000.

"For $2 a head, we produced plentiful drinking water," he said. "That may be the biggest benefit or change that's happened in that community ever."

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