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Rhode Island Department Connects With Iraqi Mothers

By Sgt. Rachel Brune, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 10, 2003 – These are not your typical Baghdad care packages. The brown boxes arriving from the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families contain diapers, pacifiers, blankets and powder, not items high on any soldier's hit list.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Lt. Col. Gary Maddocks, 800th Military Police Brigade civil affairs officer, holds Vivian, who was born to an Iraqi detainee Oct. 28, 2003. Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Gary Maddocks

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Instead, these items are on their way to the 800th Military Police Brigade's Baghdad Correctional Facility to be given to new and expecting mothers. Lt. Col. Gary Maddocks, brigade civil affairs officer, initiated the project.

Maddocks, an Army Reservist from Smithfield, R.I., who works for the Rhode Island department as a child protective investigator. When he came up with the idea, the brigade was caring for five pregnant female detainees at various facilities in Iraq.

One mother was so impressed with the professionalism and respect shown to her by a female MP officer that she named her daughter Vivian, born Oct. 28, after the soldier, said Maddocks.

"The idea is to share with children of the world what we are able to give," said Maddocks. "Through children and their families, we may unite someday as one world for one cause of world peace."

He initially contacted his civilian department's director, Jay Lindgren, to see about getting donations of baby supplies to the pregnant mothers, according to Brian Beltrami, another investigator. Lindgren asked Beltrami to get the effort rolling.

"Brian took charge of the agency's effort, sent message out to all four regions and coordinated the entire thing," said investigator Jane Lopes, who contributed to the project.

The brigade has received several individual donations, and boxes from the group donation are on their way, said Maddocks.

"The response was tremendous," wrote Beltrami via e-mail. "The staff of DCYF are dedicated to helping the children and families of RI on a daily basis. I knew that asking them to donate to moms in a foreign country would be well- received."

When a pregnant Iraqi female is incarcerated and is not a security detainee or high-value detainee, she will go to a hospital in the community to be delivered, according to Lt. Col. Stephen Robinson, brigade surgeon.

Procedures call for the mother and baby to be transferred to the Baghdad Correctional Facility after medical release, said Robinson. The mothers then have the option to remain at BCF with their children for up to six weeks, or to turn over care of their children to family members.

When the families stay at BCF, mother and child have their own room and are guarded by female corrections guards, said Robinson. These mothers will benefit from the donated items; however, the Rhode Island workers were not just doing the mission for the Iraqi women.

"Not only did we feel we were helping [these mothers], we were also helping our own fellow worker who has answered the call of duty for his country," said Beltrami.

Meanwhile, the donations have continued to arrive as the brigade continues in its mission of caring for enemy prisoners of war, as well as working with the Coalition Provisional Authority to stand up the new Iraqi Corrections System.

DCYF staffers expressed their support not only with the donations, but also with some words of encouragement for the soldiers stationed overseas. "All of the service men and women are in our thoughts and prayers daily, and we all hope for their safe return home," said Beltrami.

(Sgt. Rachel Brune is assigned to the 800th Military Police Brigade.)


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