’90 Occupation – Student, Female Volunteers: Kuwaiti Spirit Of Yesteryear

Citizens for a Free Kuwait (CFK) began operations to coordinate volunteer efforts. People started to flow in to show their support and to see how they could help. I walked in and the volunteer behind the reception desk thanked for my gesture, but responded that they didn’t require additional volunteers. I stayed (by force of will) and worked with CFK throughout the occupation (and any other organization that I thought I could assist) in any way I could.

Other small entities popped up; including my own, Kuwait Link. I ran a 24 hour phone line (which was really just my home phone next to my bed) and linked people with inquiries to resources. Some of my greatest accomplishments during the 7 month occupation came through phone calls I received (often in the middle of the night) from people who needed assistance or from the media (like CNN) wanting to speak to Kuwaitis for stories. Everyone who had a love for Kuwait during that time did what they could: Kuwaiti Association to Defend War Victims, Solidarity International for Kuwait, to name a few. The Kuwait Emergency Recovery Program started long before the ground war ever started. In an office on K Street in Washington, DC, Dr. Rola Dashti often spent her nights sleeping behind her desk in a sleeping bag on the floor, and starting her work again in the morning.

I made friends with many people during that time and I either I never took their names or I didn’t want to; believing that the cause was more important than anything. Most didn’t want credit for their individual actions; collectively they were named as a united group of people who supported the liberation of Kuwait.

There was a group of women that I met during this time who were some of the strongest people I have ever known; many of whom are still nameless to me and many who are not written about in Kuwaiti history books nor mentioned in speeches.

I volunteered with some of these women during the early days at CFK. We later went on to join others who wanted to go to Kuwait to help. We had no idea how we would go; or how we would help, but we began taking emergency first aid and trauma courses at the American Red Cross (through sponsorship and blessing of the Kuwaiti embassy). Lail Dehrab was my training partner. Her friend, Mandy Hakim, was also in our group. We learned how to handle a variety of battlefield traumas like gunshot wounds and burns. Some volunteered at local ER’s to gain experience and quick knowledge.