Iraqi Bundles of Love was designed to be a short term (about six weeks) project, intended to leverage the internet and the US Postal System to surge sewing, quilting and knitting supplies into northern Iraq during Ramadan in late 2009.
Between 3 AUG and 8 SEP of that year, volunteers from around the world mailed boxes of sewing, quilting and knitting supplies to me at Camp Speicher near Tikrit in the Salah ad Din Province, boxes that in the end totaled 3445 and represented about 30,000 lbs / 13,500 kg / 15 tons of supplies. MAJ La Flamme then injected these boxes and supplies into the pre-existing humanitarian assistance / civil affairs channels in our assigned Army units, for distribution in Salah ad Din, Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah provinces. The bundles were ultimately distributed by American and Iraqi Forces during and shortly after the month of Ramadan.
The first iteration of IBOL was done outside of normal Army channels. One unit made a warehouse available, another unit made a forklift available. Soldiers volunteered their own time to build shipping pallets of bundles, for delivery to Kirkuk and to the Kurdish Region.
MAJ La Flamme saw IBOL as directly supporting the ideas in FM 3-24, the Army’s new counterinsurgency doctrine. He felt that Iraqis should have reason to talk with their security forces at times other than the middle of the night and under conditions other than their coming to detain someone. Ramadan is a time of generosity, a time of giving, and distributing these bundles (he hoped) would go hand in hand with that. IBOL supporters, or IBOL’ers, liked both the personal connection of making and sending a box, and of sending materials that likely would only be used by Iraqi women.
IBOL II was during the late summer of 2010, in conjunction with the US Department of State’s Provincial Reconstruction team in Salah ad Din. This time, bundles mailed to Iraq were received by the PRT and then distributed in conjunction with local Iraqi non-governmental and relief organizations. IBOL II was called Give A Little, and was scaled down to address the size and limited resources of the PRT. It total, it resulted in approximately 900 bundles being distributed in the Salah ad Din Province.
A third iteration of IBOL, called IBOL3D, is underway for 2011. It’s surging sewing, knitting and quilting supplies in Baghdad and Anbar provinces, in conjunction with the drawdown of US Forces. IBOL3D is closing out the year by crossing the continent and working with the Cultural Advisory Teams and Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan, which is as strange as it sounds – folks in Iraq helping folks in Afghanistan.
The IBOL website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Please respect that. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available through Art La Flamme.
Details on building a bundle: https://ibol.wordpress.com/building-a-bundle/
Details on what to send: https://ibol.wordpress.com/what-to-send/
IBOL on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Iraqi-Bundles-of-Love/114608201774
Hard copy of this is available, here.