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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 June, 2005, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
One Day in Iraq: Daily lives
As part of the BBC News website's One Day in Iraq coverage, we heard from people from all walks of life, all over the country.

Throughout 7 June, they told us about their everyday experiences in a country still blighted by violence.

BBC News will revisit some of the contributors in greater depth on Monday 13 June.

At the moment, I am sitting in my office garden in the middle of Suleymaniya. Things are very normal and calm here. I can go to restaurants and cafés.

Even at midnight I can walk alone and feel very safe. The Kurdistan region is one of the safest areas compared to other areas such as Baghdad and the centre of Iraq.

We Iraqis are looking forward to a new life and starting a new democratic process in our lives.

The trip to and from the range was blessedly uneventful and everybody received training on the variety of weapons in the section.

The heat was another thing and definitely can suck the energy out of you if you don't consume water like a maniac.

There was a breeze today and it helped even though it was a hot and dusty wind out at the range.

The interview with the representative from Joint Forces Command was relatively brief, touching on the high points of how we execute construction in Iraq. Some controversial points from us perhaps but nothing that anyone actually involved in construction in Iraq wouldn't agree about.

Today we received some very sad news as well.

One of our project sites west of Baghdad was hit with rocket fire and several Iraqi workers were killed and wounded.

This is the worst attack on any of our job sites since August 2004. We are attempting to gather all the pieces of information and share it with all who need to know including coalition and Iraqi security forces.

The contractors and our J7 officer at the site are working to notify and coordinate with the families of the injured and dead.

While some indirect fire on our big bases occurs periodically, there are usually no injuries.

We have been very fortunate over the past fifteen months with few effective attacks on our workers and a safety record that is really quite good.

It's 1905 now. I have just returned from work. The journey home was fine.

The roads were clear because the sun is still too hot and people are staying inside. Once the sun sets which will be in about an hour - 2000 - people will come outside for a few hours before the curfew is imposed once again.

I have decided to stay at home.

At 5pm I'm off to the canteen, or mess hall, for food. It's warm here, but not as bad as in the south of the country, sometimes you get nice thunderstorms here.

We're in a US base, so we go to their dining facility. We all go at different times, but if the local peshmerga are around they will come with us, although the language barrier can be a problem.

We have some more missions coming up so I have to help plan the route.

The temperature crept up to the mid 40 degrees by lunchtime. You use up a lot of energy and water being out on patrol - it is physically demanding work in this sort of heat.

The breeze from the Gulf is however, refreshing. The rest of the day has involved more administration - getting laundry sorted and writing a letter home.

We conducted another patrol this afternoon in two landrovers, this time a basic ground defence patrol around Camp Driftwood checking likely areas from which attacks onto our camp might be launched.

There is unexploded ordnance everywhere around. Not surprising seeing as three major wars have been fought here in recent times.

Back to camp for some time off, then it's guard duty.

As a journalist, it is difficult to go out and I can't do the job I want to be doing because of the constant security threat.

Kidnapping of foreigners is a big worry and it means that we can't stay in one area for long.

We have to be pretty low profile which makes it difficult to do what we need to do.

Life here in the north has totally changed.

I feel safer, we are not seeing any types of terrorist attacks or car bombs in this part of the country.

There have been very few incidents in the last two years and none have been fatal apart from the latest one when a traffic policeman lost his life about ten days ago.

People are carrying on their lives as normal, they are not scared.

Even late at night, at two or three in the morning you can see people in the street.

People are stopping at traffic lights, having picnics and enjoying their lives.

I start my day with many phone calls to check and cross-check if there are any accidents or incidents on the way to work and decide my route.

Security is always changing in Baghdad.

We have projects to distribute water through water tanks, check the plants and distribute it throughout Baghdad.

Water is a major problem for the people here, especially in the dry summer season.

I went to school and had an exam today. Was I worried more about security or the exam?

Well, both really!

I have to worry about my exam and studying but also we always worry about a bomb or an explosion going off near the school or even when we are on our way there.

We're actually starting to get to get used to it, it is beginning to be a normal fear, we actually prepare ourselves to face death anytime.

We can't really go out to see our friends because of the security, we worry about any shooting or being kidnapped, so we just stay in and watch TV.

We may have electricity when we get home but then again we do have a generator.

As for the future, well I think it will not be good at all but hopefully it will improve.

It is sad when I know that all my friends and family are leaving Iraq to be safe.

Right now, even if we are at home we are not safe.

Normally at this time I would be training with my fellow members of the national water polo team at the Freedom swimming pool in Baghdad.

The swimming pool is in a very delicate security area, bounded by the US troops' camp and the ministry of interior affairs, so reaching the facility was too hard for us until four or five months ago.

But after the improvement in the security situation, we are able to use our training facility.

I was awoken before 7am by the noise of the Humvees and the tanks on Haifa street where I live. Our area is compromised on security.

We often face difficulties in entering our homes, to go to work, to go for training. When you go out for two hours and come back, you find Haifa Street is blocked.

I would like to go back to life as it was before the invasion because it was so secure.

We need security to feel safe, to be trained, we need security to feel free to go about.

I am not optimistic for the near future.

I work in a salon for the ladies. There is no electricity, no water, the heat is killing us.

Customers, when they peer in, see only darkness. They shy away, and this is where we are supposed to make a living. And what's the quintessential thing for a hairdresser ? Electricity.

To use a generator requires oil - and oil requires a budget, and I am not the owner so I can't buy that. The paradox is that when the owner comes and sees that there are no customers she refuses to pay us our salaries.

There is no security, threats are flying. Thank god, our salon has not been targeted - but that doesn't mean we should not fear for ourselves. I mean, what would it cost to throw a bomb in our direction ?

It is a risk we have to take. It is our livelihood - us Iraqi women as a whole. Most of our men are sitting at home. My husband goes out looking for a job every day in vain. This is the kind of life Iraqi women are leading right now.

I made sure there were no suspicious people or movements in my street when I left the house this morning.

The plan was that I would go and get some fuel for my car and the power generator at home.

I took one of the only few highways which are still open in Baghdad.

A convoy of police cars went by on its way to the Ministry of interior.

Each pick up truck was carrying 4 handcuffed, hooded men in the back of the trucks with guards.

When I reached the gas station, it only took me few seconds to change my plan.

The site of the long line of cars, which went for hundreds of meters waiting to get into the gas station, made it clear that it would take several hours underneath the burning sun before I could get fuel for my car.

So I decided to buy it from the black market, with the prices doubled 4 times.

The situation of the country is bad to worse as far as I'm concerned.

If you could ask the Iraqi people they will give you the same answer and you can read this in every Iraqi's eyes.

The absence of electricity and security are the main things that concern people.

I'm not a fortune-teller and I have no prophesy, but we hope things get better.

I usually wake up at 8, have some breakfast and prepare to go out. I also prepare myself psychologically for the rehearsal.

I always go ahead with my journey and never stop it because of any situations that may arise. I want it uninterrupted and uncomplicated so I go out, come what may.

The problem when you go out is you think more about the road than about work. The perils of the road haunt you.

You always ask the question, "will I get back home or not?"

Back at home I watch TV.

The most important thing for me is the political process in Iraq. We want to make Iraq secure for the Iraqi people.

The people in Mongesh are very proud of how well Muslims and Christians get along together in their community. Our second day of the workshop is going very well.

The people are enjoying it and the level of discussion is good - even with the people who have less education than some of the other participants.

Today is sunny and warm here, but the breeze at the top of the hill where our workshop hall is located is refreshing and we don't need to use air coolers to stay comfortable - just fans.

This evening I'll be back in Dohuk, preparing for the last day of the workshop tomorrow.

I'll also spend time talking with a friend whose little sister needs surgery to correct a serious birth defect.

She has a concave ribcage that makes it hard for her to breathe. We're trying to arrange for her to go to the U.S. for some medical help, since the surgery she needs isn't available in Iraq.

This evening I may also phone an artist friend in Dohuk who has produced several art exhibitions with some help from Concordia.

His paintings are wonderful - colourful abstract and surrealist paintings of women and sometimes men that express the limitations women face in terms of their freedoms.

The artist, Omran Suleman Bebo, is a young Kurdish Izidi painter whose exhibits have helped many people start talking more about women's rights and the need for women and men both to have greater sexual freedom in this very traditional society.

I've spent the morning doing administration things.

It has taken ages because we all have to do timesheets in order to get paid.

We only have one computer so everyone has to wait their turn. I do have my own computer at home but I cannot use it a lot of the time because of the electricity cuts.

I have a generator at home but this means I have to queue for petrol in order to power it.

The life here is quite normal. Most of the people are now having their lunch outside, as many of them have jobs so can't go home to lunch.

It's easy to move around between bars, cafes and restaurants. And not just for Kurds. If you walk for a while you'll come across blue - eyed foreigners walking alone on the street, and they feel safe.

For 13 years this area was out of the reach of Saddam's regime, so the people suffered shortages of power and fuel. But recently it's been getting better.

In the Kurdish region there's now power for 20 hours a day, water is available, and we get fuel from Turkey, which must come through Kurdistan first on it's way to Iraq.

I live with my parents in a quiet neighbourhood. I have limited relationships with the neighbours. I don't trust most of them as I believe some of them to be terrorists.

I work in a major hospital in the centre of Baghdad. Every morning at 7.30 I go out to work, usually with my father, but sometimes I go alone by car. It takes 30 minutes to get there but can take hours when some of the roads are blocked.

I start my day by checking on the resident patients. But mostly there are interruptions from the emergency room whenever there is a blast or too many injured people are admitted.

In the evenings I usually visit my grandmother and father, or go out for shopping with Mum. Sometimes just for a few minutes I feel that everything is going just fine - just great - and we can live normally without fears. But as soon as I wake up from my dream I face the reality.

Real crimes happen here and many innocent people are dying due to bomb blasts or assassinations. Sometimes we experience really bloody days that break my heart.

I wish that I could do something to stop the pain. We are fighting here to live. We don't know if we're going to live for another day or not.

I am proud of being myself, a hopeful Iraqi woman and I am completely convinced that things are going better and better and we're going to go on building our country.

It seem that the days are all similar in Iraq because the same difficulties are always being repeated.

I am trying to study for an exam tomorrow, but the electricity has shut down. The temperature is about 41c so it is difficult to concentrate.

But even so, when I see other students studying on the street because their student residences have not had electricity for a week, I thank God that I am studying in my room, even with such hot weather.

The situation is now quite normal here, much better than a few months ago around election time. Security is better, the market is better, all things have improved.

Our water supplies have improved, before we had to rely very heavily on our generator.

There is important change on both sides it seems now. The insurgents are not active, they are quiet, and the coalition soldiers are not as active - we don't hear the American F-16 planes screaming overhead as much any more.

I am a father to 8 children, and a few months ago we spent every night moving across the river where I live to houses outside the city as it was not safe near my house.

Many households would gather together for protection to spare us from the military action.

Now, there are smiles, normal activity, more shopping, going to the market, there is no phobia.

Well, this afternoon I have to do some construction on our house, it will take a few days but I have to start. It is nice to do something normal again.

I am a secondary school English teacher. The things that are getting better are the increase in salaries. This has encouraged more teachers to go back to schools and to give more and more because come the end of the month, they have better salaries in order to buy what they need.

But there are so many things that are still difficult. Electricity is a problem and threatens the safety of the pupils.

But there is freedom now, you can talk, speak and express yourself.

There is still a problem the same as before, in handling the girls. I have 55 girls in the one class. They must open more schools and recruit more teachers as it is difficult to teach a foreign language with 55 pupils in the same class.

After I have breakfast and head to work, I read a few verses from the Koran. I leave my home in civilian clothes, not in my police uniform, because of the security situation.

My wife and my close friends call me when there is an attack. When there is an attack I think to myself, "will I die or will I return"?

When I get home I have dinner with my family and I tell them how my day went. The lack of electricity and water is another topic of conversation.

My happiness will be complete if peace and quiet is complete.

My engineering section runs a $2 billion construction program in support of the Iraqi security forces with projects all over the country. We are building or reconstructing a wide variety of facilities from huge bases to individual police station renovations.

It is important for the protection and support of the Iraqi forces and it is very tangibly rewarding.

Today my section has a bit of its own household maintenance to do. We are going to a range complex outside Baghdad to train our newly-assigned people on our crew-served weapons and vehicle-mounted crew-served weapons.

We have our own armoured Humvees and conduct missions all over the central Iraq area using our ground convoys everyday. We do site surveys and engineer estimates, and assessments of sites proposed for Iraqi units and police use.

For other areas of Iraq further away we have liaison officers resident with coalition units to develop our requirements and do our engineering planning. Today, however, the new folks need to be trained on firing on the move, employing all our weapons.

Also today there will be a visit by a Lessons Learned group, seeking our feedback on the effort in Iraq so far and the lessons we have taken from our experiences.

These can be shared with other units and people who are coming to Iraq for the first time and for the benefit of senior national military leaders.

But it starts with a convoy to the range complex through the daily morning traffic in Baghdad. While generally bad at peak times, it can get really congested given the many checkpoints set up for the current security operations that the Iraqi forces are carrying out.

I am a 27 year old nurse and work in the paediatric section of the city's al-Yarmouk hospital in Baghdad.

At 0900 every morning I have breakfast with my colleagues from other sections. We listen to the radio together before starting our shifts.

I love to work with kids, I feel they are like little angels. I don't see in them the crimes and violence I see on the streets, or in the hospital where they bring the dead and wounded after each bombing. That can be an awful scene to watch.

The health situation is good in my ward, because it was refurbished last year. It has the most advanced medical techniques of all the hospitals.

Everything we need is provided, despite some lack in the number of incubators and an increase in premature births.

I am thinking of continuing my studies in order to become a paediatrician.

The only thing we fear is the danger of coming to and from the hospital and working night shifts. The situation is very difficult, especially for me as a young, single woman.

I'm happy and hopeful and, although I grew up during the time of Saddam, I hope the situation in Iraq will get better. I hope to see my little angels growing up in a better country than the one we grew up in.

If you take construction contracts you have to be selective. Any project serving the authorities or multinational forces may put you in danger because you're accused of cooperating with the enemy.

The risks we're facing in our daily lives are not just from car bombs which take up most of the media's attention.

We experience also criminal problems like abduction or killings. In my family, my father was abducted early in the year.

We had to negotiate with the kidnappers and pay them money in order to spare his life. We have him back with us now.

We have electricity for only 8 hours a day now, in our famously hot summer. People have to get up very early in the morning, not only to work, but also because of the lack of electricity.

It affects us all. I can be sitting with my family, and we suddenly lose electricity, then we have to change over to what we call street generators.

I pay a certain amount of money for this, but it can hardly turn on the lights in the house, without even thinking of using air conditioning.


I have been at work for a few hours now. I work for the Iraq project and contracting programs office. We are responsible for a lot of the reconstruction projects in Iraq. We are building schools, hospitals and lot of other facilities for Iraqi people.

I have been here a couple of months and we have been fortunate that we haven't faced too many dangers and we haven't had to face an overwhelming number of casualties. I feel safe - apart from when a rocket comes in to the trailer which is a little disconcerting.

I didn't know what to expect, I haven't been deployed much. We have general training so what I saw and what I expected were very different.

We work 12 or 14 hours on average. We do the paperwork but we also oversee teams of builders and keep them on schedule and to budget.

I recently came back to Baghdad from Dubai. I arrived back in mid May and went to see my previous employers the next day. They told me I could start straight away.

My role as a sales engineer requires me to travel all the time and that is relatively dangerous at the moment so I stay in Baghdad.

The situation in Baghdad is very stable compared to a couple of weeks ago. I think the security measures called "operation lightning" that have been going on in recent days have helped.

I was able to take my family, my wife and five children to a theme park near the green zone the other day and every evening now we go to have ice cream from a nearby shop. Up until now I find the situation satisfactory.

The power situation is getting better too because of a new station east of Baghdad. Yesterday we had a little more nicer night with this new power.

The regular thing for Iraqis is to spend the night on the roof, because of the way villas are designed. This summer we can not do that because we worry some bullets may miss their targets.

But life is normal, my children have just finished school, they received their marks and were very successful. So we had a celebration and bought a small cake.

We go shopping all the time and at the moment I am looking for a new car. For now we spend our days walking and I think that is good exercise for us.

We are scared to come to work. We really suffer in making the trip from home to the hospital and back.

I'm very pessimistic about the health of the country. We have now a second wave of immigration or escape, another one like in the Saddam's time. A big number of doctors have left the country to neighbouring countries or the Gulf States.

I've never been, in the old days, attacked by anybody in my house. Nobody dared. But while I was sitting at 9pm at night, instead of ringing the bell they knocked with their guns.

I opened the door and saw eight Hummers and about 20 soldiers with their guns pointed at us. They said we have information that you hold meetings in your house against the coalition armies.

I said I'm a well known doctor and you have got the wrong address. They turned the house upside down and they found nothing and at the end, they apologised.

But they went about it Rambo-style, with their guns pointed at us. I was very upset.

Yes, I said you have got the wrong information, but you have just created a good enemy for yourselves.

Sanaa, pharmacist, Baghdad, 1008 LOCAL TIME (0608GMT)

Things are getting worse here. Life was easier during the first year after the war.

I shouldn't have to worry 24 hours a day about the safety of my son, but that is the case now.

You are not safe or secure, you have to lock everything now, you are suspicious about everything. I lock doors, I lock my car every time now and this is my only concern. It keeps me from leading a normal life, this feeling of insecurity.

I can't help thinking how secure it was before the war. Obviously I did not like everything, but I just remember how safe it was. I wouldn't go back to the regime, we have a sense of freedom now, but it is shadowed by this feeling of insecurity.

Before we used to lead normal lives, we couldn't voice our opinions about everything. But we kept away from the government and led normal lives. We could go to meetings and clubs, and be in by midnight. We didn't get involved in politics.

I feel deceived, I feel abandoned. It has been going on too long now. I can't say I blame one party, everyone is to blame, I blame everyone.

I am a pharmacist and lots of the medicines I sell are for diarrhoea. It is the lead killer of children here. Other medicines are for flu even though it is 40c at the moment. This is because the air-conditioning is off for half the day due to electricity shortages.

Oggy Boytchev, BBC bureau chief, Baghdad, 0959 LOCAL TIME (0559GMT)

It's another day at the office for the team at the BBC Baghdad bureau. We are at our desks in our old house behind 14-foot blast walls slightly earlier today. At 8.30 in the morning the thermometer on the terrace shows 32 degrees centigrade in the shade.

The sky is clear and the air feels crisp - there is no sign of the dust storm which rampaged through the city the night before last. The only reminder is a thick layer of reddish dust on unwashed cars parked in the street.

The first visitor arrives just after 9 and I connect him to a Bush House studio for a discussion with a World Service programme.

Caroline Hawley, the BBC resident correspondent in Baghdad, is getting ready to talk to Radio Five Live.

The basement room, which doubles up as a radio studio is busy with our World Service guest, a geology professor, so Caroline will have to do her two-way from a dark dusty corner in the hallway where an emergency satellite phone is installed.

The security guard at the front gate announces that the second interview guest for the day has arrived.

Lance Corporal Terry Findlay, Royal Anglian Regiment, Al Faaw, 0955 LOCAL TIME (0555GMT)

The mornings here are beautiful - clear bright skies before an early sunrise at about 0600hrs. I am based at Camp Driftwood on the edge of the fishing town of Al Faaw on the tip of the Al Faaw Peninsula, the far south eastern tip of Iraq.

A visit to the gym is the first activity of the day as only the mornings are cool enough to exercise in comfort. After a traditional army breakfast, I got ready for my first patrol of the day.

Lance Corporal Terry Findlay in Al Faaw market
Lance Corporal Findlay in the local market this morning

We are on the ground by 0730hrs. Eight of us went in two land rovers to Al Faaw town for a routine security patrol around the market place. As usual the locals welcomed our presence and offered us cans of drink.

Life is relatively normal - locals making their way to work. The stench of rubbish is strong in the mornings.

We returned to Camp Driftwood at about 0900hrs and conducted a patrol debrief, reporting on the pattern of life and commenting on anything suspicious.

The rest of the morning will be spent administrating my four-man team of soldiers.

Dr Essam al Rawi, Geology lecturer, Baghdad, 0945 LOCAL TIME (0545GMT)

I usually wake at 5 in the morning, then go to the nearest mosque for prayers. The journey there isn't always safe.

In the past there have been attacks by policemen on the mosque, who accused the worshippers of terrorism. But I still went, as my religion is important to me.

No Iraqi knows who or what will meet them on the road during the day. There could be car bombs or killers. But you still need to leave your house to go to work, to study, to proceed with an ordinary life.

I don't think life has become any easier since the elections.

The real demands of security are not being met. They only think about using force. But real security demands a range of things.

There are so many people without work, there is injustice and equality. There are occupation troops manning the roads. They are dealing with people only using force, and this is the problem.

The final college exams take place this month, including today.

We're hoping that the new Education Minister, who is a chemistry professor at my college, will help things to get better and better.

He is trying to exceed our monthly income, rebuilding the library's, laboratories, classrooms and offices.

So I think the universities will get better and better over the next few months.

Colonel Peter de Luca, US military, Baghdad, 0912 LOCAL TIME (0512GMT)

The command in which I work is the multi-national security transition command - Iraq. I am charged with helping the Iraqi government raise, train, equip and base its new security forces.

We are building or reconstructing a wide variety of facilities from huge bases to individual police station renovations. It is important for the protection and support of the Iraqi forces and it is very tangibly rewarding.

This is the twelfth month of my second deployment to Iraq. The conditions during this second deployment are very different than the last one.

Living in the desert and in gutted or damaged facilities or in the open have been replaced this time with an air-conditioned trailer. I have an office now with climate control and all the information technology necessary to stay in touch with the outside world.

Much worse are the restrictions on free movements and the impact this has had on my ability to work with a wide variety of Iraqis.

On the first tour we moved much more freely and I had the opportunity to hire a huge number of Iraqi engineers. I generally interact now with Iraqis largely from the Ministry of Interior or Ministry of Defence or mostly, Iraqis who are working for our contractors and sub-contractors.

In my section of the staff we do have several Iraqi engineers working for us and doing great work but not as many as I had on the first tour.

Maysoon al Damluji, Deputy culture minister, Baghdad, 0846 LOCAL TIME (0446GMT)

Today I'm travelling between Copenhagen and Paris, but in Iraq I start my morning at around 0630. Wake up, take a shower and prepare to go to work, I do not leave for work any later than 0730.

Usually car bombs start between 0900 and 1000, so I try to be at work before then. On a good day it takes an hour. On a bad day it can take up to two or three hours.

I have to go through certain security routes and I have to go in a different car every day.

This will protect against personal attacks but I fear the car bombs that kill everyone. I have been caught between two car bombs before.

I feel safer when I'm indoors rather than outdoors, though recently I had a car bomb near my window but thankfully, everyone survived.

I will spend today doing ministry work, trying to solve whatever problems there are.

It is often very difficult to do real work because of the security situation.

So writing an email, having a letter typed out is a hassle. Things that take half an hour in the west take three or four days in Iraq.

Anonymous, 30, writer, Baghdad, 0814 LOCAL TIME (0414GMT)

Today I plan to go and cash a few cheques at the bank. This will be the main event for me and on the way I will stop to get fuel for the car and the generator we use to supply power to our home.

This will mean that I will have to spend a considerable amount of time at the gas station in a very long line of cars. I will also be going through lots of traffic on my way to the bank, gas station and office since all of these destinations are in downtown Baghdad.

Jocko, UK contractor, Mosul, 0711 LOCAL TIME (0311GMT)

As dawn breaks all is quiet and I'm hoping to get some sleep having worked overnight. As our company had no convoys to escort yesterday evening, it was decided to do recce's on three routes in the town which are classed as very dangerous.

We were doing these after the curfew to reduce the risk of attack from suicide bombers. Because of advice from the US military we had to change our plans. We adopted an alternative and all went well as the mission progressed.

I am the lead driver on my team. We carried out our initial duties and then headed off to check out a new crossroads. We would have got there sooner but I missed the turning and we went past it by three kilometres before turning around.

I was driving happily along checking the distance to crossroads when flash and what looked like a thousand red embers flew up into the sky about three feet to the right of my vehicle.

My vehicle was in the middle of the two lanes at the time so they had buried it in a hole or crack in the road so I wouldn't see it. After the blast my vehicle wasn't disabled so I was able to carry on driving through the area in case of an attempted second attack.

Fortunately the only injury was to my rear gunner, who suffered a minor shrapnel wound to his shoulder. Also my poor vehicle has now got seven new holes on the right hand side.

About two kilometres away we stopped to look after our injured man. Whilst here the US military sent out helicopters to watch over our position and then a stryker platoon showed up to cover us.

We then came back along the same road to our base and arrived safely taking our injured to the medical centre.

May, 25, unemployed Iraqi architect, Baghdad, 0640 LOCAL TIME (0240GMT)

I live with my parents and my brother nearby Baghdad International airport , I graduated in 2003 as an architect.

Our lives have changed so much since the fall of Saddam. I do not want to say that Saddam's regime was fine, but maybe it was in one way and that is security. Everything here has changed now, even the people.

The whole situation is so bad and the most difficult thing to live with is the lack of security. I feel insecure wherever I go, at any time there is the risk of kidnapping , looting or explosions.

I used to drive a car or take a taxi to go shopping, now there is no chance of this and when I want to go anywhere I must go with my parents or with my brother.

Sometimes I spend one or two months without stepping outside the front door. There is no life here.

There are also problems with everyday services. There is no electricity. just a few hours worth each day. This means Baghdad is always dark and frightening at night.

Water is unavailable for a few hours during the day too, with the risk of infection. So we need to either boil the water or sterilise it by buying tablets.

Generally that is our daily life and we hope that our suffering will be ended sooner or later.

Susan, aid worker, Mongesh, N. Iraq, 0554 LOCAL TIME (0154GMT)

I'm in the middle of three day workshop focusing on the Iraqi constitution and elections. The activities involve getting between 45-50 people together to look at why a constitution is important for a democratic country, and what its purpose is.

A lot of the work is about giving people information, and we have 8 staff doing that. But the best part of the workshop will come when the participants start to work together. Muslims and Christians, those with different political beliefs, and differing levels of education.

Even those who cant read or write, because everybody should be able to express an opinion. They come together to prepare their own version of the constitution, which we then send to a member of the committee which is writing the constitution.

We have had problems with people getting here though. There is no safe way to travel from Baghdad to northern Iraq by road, and we didn't have time to organise flights. But I'm hoping that those who can't make it will come to the next workshop.

Last night I stayed at the home of friends near Dohuk. There were 12 of us sleeping in two rooms on mattresses! Luckily it was a cool night.

I'm really excited about today's workshop. The group is a good mix of Christians and Muslims, most of whom have never had an opportunity to express their own ideas on the new government.



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