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New Haven Benefit Assists Hospitals in Baghdad

30 Sep 2005 – Stephen V. Kobasa, an English teacher at Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, staged a fund-raiser in New Haven to benefit two Catholic hospitals in Baghdad.

A performance of “What I Heard About Iraq,” by Eliot Weinberger, at the Little Theater on 11 September, netted more than $1,200, which Mr. Kobasa earmarked for “medical relief for the people of Iraq.” The presentation tells the story of the U.S. involvement in Iraq through the words of government officials.

Mr. Kobasa worked closely with the New York-based Vatican agency, Catholic Near East Welfare Association, and Ra’ed Bahou, the agency’s Regional Director for Jordan and Iraq, who suggested the money be split between Al Hayat, a 27-bed mother and child facility, and St. Raphael’s, an 86-bed general hospital, which designated its dollars for the purchase of an ambulance.

Mr. Kobasa and his family, residents of New Haven, attend St. Thomas More Chapel at Yale University. He traces his activism to the Vietnam War protests of the 60’s. “I’m fully committed to peace,” he said. “I’m proud that my daughter Rachel, who’s 15, took part in the readings.”

CNEWA, founded in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, has been providing emergency relief, medicines and medical care to Iraqis since the outbreak of war there, often using convents and parish houses as distribution centers for its supplies. Other CNEWA programs in the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe include needy child, seminarian and novice sponsorship programs; village redevelopment; health care and education and interfaith dialogue.