Ordinary Courage

Ordinary Courage

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My Journey to Baghdad as a Human Shield.

Donna Mulhearn’s world as she knew it had fallen apart. By the age of thirty-four, her marriage was over; she was disillusioned by her career as a journalist and political adviser and she despaired at the person she was becoming. Then one day she heard something radical, a call to action that would change her life forever.

A man on the radio was appealing for human shields in Iraq – volunteers to deter the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ from attacking Baghdad. Donna was already against the war – she was a firm believer in the power of non-violent action, and like many people she mistrusted Bush and Co’s motives for entering Iraq. She knew immediately what she had to do.

Despite protests from concerned family and friends, Donna soon found herself in Baghdad, which she was surprised to find was a thriving, cosmopolitan city, with a highly educated and confident population, who were waiting with dread for the missiles to strike.

There she joined hundreds of shields from a range of countries who formed small teams to protect major sites – power stations, water treatment plants, communication centres – that were crucial to the life of innocent people. With Bush’s deadline for attack looming, businesses closed their doors for perhaps the last time and the streets became eerily silent as people prepared for the worst.

Donna and her team took up position at a food silo, where they endured night after night of harrowing missile attacks, while during the day, in a show of support and solidarity, they visited hospitals and areas that had been bombed.

Donna became the key media contact, and at the same time as supplying vital information to the outside world, she found she had to defend herself against accusations of being a traitor. Even when Saddam’s statue toppled and the Coalition claimed victory, her challenges did not end.