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November 19th, 2009
03:41 PM ET

A New Vision: More Help for Iraq's Blind Students

Note from Kyra: Some of my most memorable segments for CNN have been covering the war in Iraq.

One experience I have never forgotten was my visit to Baghdad's school for the blind in 2008.

The kids touched my heart .

When I reached out to the Perkins School for the blind-made famous for educating Helen Keller–they didn't hesitate to donate equipment to teach these kids.

I hope you are as thrilled as I am with the follow up from my colleague Mohammed Jamjoom.

AL-NOOR SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND

By Mohammed Jamjoom

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this

Kids in school rarely smile so much, or sing so loudly. But at Baghdad's Al-Noor School for the Blind, there was reason to celebrate, as much-needed Braille learning materials from the U.S. had finally arrived.

It was the second batch of supplies donated from the Perkins School for the Blind since CNN's Kyra Phillips first visited and profiled the Al-Noor School last year. Because getting this aid from the US to Iraq isn't easy, Perkins partnered with International Relief & Development for the special delivery.

Ernest Leonardo, Chief of Party for International Relief & Development in Baghdad explained how gratifying it is to witness the school kids receive these supplies.

“When you see service, or in this case equipment delivered to children who are looking to understand how the world is and their thirst for knowledge, and they're sitting at these tables and looking at this equipment and wondering, what comes next, how do we see the world? And that's just fascinating for us – it's a good project,” said Leonardo.

Al-Noor is the only institute of its kind in Baghdad – it serves 71 students. On this day, a festive atmosphere surrounded the school when the delivery truck arrived.

Everybody we spoke with, students and teachers alike, were extremely thrilled at the prospect of getting new Perkins Braillers and Braille paper, among other supplies. But, by far, they were most excited by the delivery of the school's first Braille printer; which will allow them to do in minutes what once took days.

Students use brailers at Baghdad's school for the blind.
Students use brailers at Baghdad's school for the blind.

Once the boxes had made it inside and the Braille Printer had been unpacked, some of the students put on a concert in the school’s main corridor. They sang songs of national pride to express their joy and thanks.

For 11-year-old Safa, the significance of these donated supplies is clear. To her, the chance at a better education meant the chance at a better future.

“I want to become a teacher so I can help my people and my country,” said Safa. “And I want to teach the students that come after me – to teach them the way I was taught.”

The hope now is that this desperately needed program will continue.

“There are other kinds of contributions that are coming in Iraq,” said Leonardo. “We can talk about that later, but this is one that really gets to your heart. You can see the smiles on the kids – nothing better than that”


Filed under: Kyra Phillips
November 19th, 2009
02:20 PM ET

The 30 Second Pitch

This week we featured laid-off pharmacist Patrick Carpenter. He lives in the Boston area and is looking for work.

We'll have his pitch posted here soon.

In the meantime if you have a job for him you may e-mail him at hirepatrickcarpenter@gmail.com

We also featured recent college grad Alison Mainka.

She's an economics major who wants to use her creativty and communication skils.

If you have a job for her you can e-mail her at:
alison.mainka@gmail.com

Her pitch will be posted here soon.

And if you've been laid off or downsized and want to be part of the pitch please send us your information and resume to:
30secondpitch@cnn.com


Filed under: :30 Second Pitch • Kyra Phillips
November 19th, 2009
09:20 AM ET

Court: Army Corps liable for Katrina flooding

A federal judge has ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers is to blame for Hurricane Katrina flooding in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish. He says the Corps failed to properly maintain a shipping channel.

Overall, the storm damage covered more than 90,000 square miles and displaced nearly 300,000 people, causing more than
$81 billion in damage. FEMA called Katrina "the single most catastrophic
natural disaster in U.S. history."

This ruling could lead to billions in damage claims.

Post your comments here, and Fredricka will read some of them in the Newsroom, from 9-11am ET.


Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield • Heidi Collins
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