Friday, June 11, 2004


How much I respect folks like Mr. O'Sullivan for stepping up, and assisting progress.
Mr. O'Sullivan's girlfriend, who was also witness to the ruin, told him the cleanup would be a massive job and that it would be difficult to rebuild the city. He disagreed and decided to prove her wrong. Last October, he returned to Baghdad to establish JumpStart International, a non-profit organization that employs local residents to clean up the city.

Now, Mr. O'Sullivan is supervising a force of 2,700 workers in transforming the Iraqi capital's skyline, cleaning up shattered offices and building housing for the homeless. He is even besieged with calls from coalition advisers hoping JumpStart will clear out their buildings.

"I was really angry," said Mr. O'Sullivan, 39, recalling how the city looked after the war ended. "The U.S. was spending $4-billion a month and you couldn't tell. I just thought that if you really wanted to, you could clean up the city and employ a lot of people -- and it wasn't all that difficult.

"There are skyscrapers in this city that are standing monuments to the American war machine," he added. "Just leaving them standing there is a way to create resentment against Americans and against the West."...

Today, JumpStart is clearing and cleaning out 47 government sites around the Iraqi capital and has already completed more than 450. Labourers are paid about $4 a day and foremen earn $12. All are grateful for the work....

To employees, JumpStart means more than money. "I am serving my country by making it more beautiful," said Luai Salem, 25.

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