February 1, 2016

The consequences of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq are deep and seemingly intractable, with enormous impact on the Iraqi people along with Syrians, Kurds, both Christians and Muslims alike.   The continued and dramatic outcome of that war is reflected in the displacement of millions of people within the Middle East, along with the growing refugee stampede out of their homelands into Europe.

CRO  continues to reach out to those refugees who have landed in California. We gather their stories and add them to the growing numbers on our U C Berkeley Library site,

CRO Creates FIRST HAND REPORTING ON IRAQI REFUGEES IN CALIFORNIA.  Most of us don’t experience first hand the tragedies the war brought. When CRO has the opportunity to interview someone who has been wounded and we can help, we do. Ahmed Al Kubaisi arrived in California 5 years ago. He was made paraplegic and wheelchair bound by an American bullet that injured his spinal cord. He was 14 years old. Ahmed miraculously made his way to the US.  CRO organized an Indiegogo Campaign, indiegogo courage over tragedy, to raise funds for Ahmed’s rehabilitation. It is a successful ongoing campaign, raising $8000 toward state of the art physical therapy using robotic equipment. Ahmed continues to demonstrate growing strength and ability to function on his own.

A BOOK IS IN THE WORKS!  In order to get our refugee stories to a wider public David Harris, will be writing a book proposal based on our interviews. Ruth Friend who made the interviews is preparing the materials, creating transcriptions of interviews, and coordinating follow up interviews. We hope to be able to present a book proposal to a publisher within the year.

We are actively seeking a publisher to present our proposal to. If you can help us identify a publisher who would be interested in this work, please let us know. And, if you can donate toward the project we’d appreciate any contributions towards travel, transcribing and all the costs incurred by a project like this. We hope to raise $5,000.


Thank you for your continued support.


Ruth Friend,

President CRO




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Update from CRO!

CRO’s year started with an amazing benefit evening for wounded Iraqi Ahmed Al Kubaisi a young man shot by a “stray” American bullet in Fallujah and made paraplegic.
Ruth Friend, CRO President  welcomed everyone and introduced Ahmed, a charismatic and courageous victim of the Iraq war.
David Harris gave a moving speech about CRO’s work and Ahmed’s personal story.

The evening culminated with the James Moseley Band rocking everyone out onto the dance floor including Ahmed. Watch Ahmed dancing with his supporters.  Wow, everyone was blown away.

The community gave generously to help Ahmed purchase a new wheelchair and raised $3,500. that evening towards its purchase.

Life Saving Gift for Ahmed
A courageous Napa California mother gave forward to Ahmed after seeing the Jan. 13th Marin IJ  article by Paul Liberatore about Ahmed and Citizens Reach Out. Jan Rodriguez who lost her son in July of last year gave Ahmed an Airbed which is necessary for paraplegics to avoid life threatening bed sores.

Jan’s son Jesse died as a result of a tragic motorcycle accident and a two year struggle his mother personally nursed him through. She had been wondering what she would do with all his equipment, and says ” When I saw Ahmed’s picture in the paper, with all his wild hair and joyful face I knew he was the one her son would have wanted his bed to go to.”

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Save The Date!! James Mosley Band Benefit Concert

S A V E   T H E   D A T E!

Citizens Reach Out and The James Moseley Band

Present a Benefit Evening at The Seahorse Restaurant, Sausalito

Thursday, January 16, 2014 7pm – 10pm

Donations at the door: $20. (Dinner not included)

Dinner at discounted price of $45. Per person ($20. goes to Ahmed’s fund)

 (Dinner optional)

Speaker: David Harris

Others TBA

RSVP and Reserve a Table
CONTACT: Ruth Friend, or 415-608-6988

We are celebrating the life of Ahmed Al Kubaisi, a young Iraqi who was shot in Fallujah by an American bullet when he was 14 years old and made paraplegic. He is now 21yrs old and lives in our community. Ahmed’s joyful nature and positive spirit have inspired us to help him make his transition to living in the Bay area.

Ahmed’s story stands out as exemplary of what happened to innocent civilians as a consequence of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In spite of his injury he is a resilient, joyful and energetic young man.


Proceeds will go to pay for his new wheelchair and special bed as well as things he needs to set up his new apartment.

All donations are tax deductible.

Make checks payable to:
The Alalusi Foundation/Ahmed Fund

Mail checks to:
Citizens Reach Out, Box 722, Mill Valley CA 94941

Contact: Ruth Friend,
415 608-6988

CRO works to make the stories of the innocent victims of war public through video and digital recordings archived at the UC Berkeley Library Online Catalogue.

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From Our Board Members

CRO has an active Board of Directors who contribute their expertise to CRO’s mission.  Each month we feature a board member’s own words illuminating the work they have done, and their contribution to ongoing projects.


3358ef4What Happened to Ahmed Al Kubaisi?

By Ellen Greeblatt

Preserving the stories of Iraqi refugees to the US is the purpose of the “What Happened?” project of Citizens Reach Out. But helping to create new stories about What Will Happen? is just as crucial.

Ahmed is an example of both parts of this mission. The life path for Ahmed, a 22-year old, changed irrevocably when a bullet went through his chest outside his home in Fallujah seven years ago, paralyzing him from the chest down. He was 15—just 15—when he became completely dependent on others, and he was lucky when he was transported to Jordan—but his luck, such as it was, ran out, as his confinement to bed led to life-threatening bedsores.

Through the interventions of the UNHCR and an Iraqi-American philanthropist, he made his way to Fairmont Hospital in Oakland where he will remain for several months until his bedsores heal.

That’s “What Happened.”

But What Will Happen? Ahmed’s future is here in the USA. When I sat in recently on a meeting at Fairmont Hospital with his doctor, his physical therapists, his social worker and his nurses, I had a sense of the enormous challenges he faces, and the doctor clearly laid out Ahmed’s own responsibilities, stressing, among other things, that Ahmed take an active role in learning English. Ahmed dreams of a career, perhaps as a pharmacist, but before he can pursue a profession, he must learn English, so I thought about how to put the resources of the Bay Area to work for him.

Contacting the UC Berkeley Near Eastern Studies Department seemed a natural step, and they posted my flyers explaining Ahmed’s need for conversation partners.  So far, two young women, pictured here, both studying Arabic, have responded. Dalia is an Iraqi-American, while Katya is European-American, and they visit Ahmed regularly (Katya often with another UC student) to help him with English as well as to provide him with American friends his own age. Ahmed’s good nature and hard work are paying off in improved English, but he is giving back as well—Dalia and Katya are getting some help with their Arabic studies, and Ahmed converses with both young women over Facebook as well as in their face-to-face meetings at Fairmont Hospital.

Ahmed with Dalia

Ahmed with Dalia

Ahmed will continue to need help for some time—in English as well as for finding a living situation suitable for a disabled person. As a first step, CRO is launching a campaign to raise money for a wheelchair for Ahmed. We’re posting it on our Reaching Out link on our CRO website. Please check it out.

Ahmed with Katya

Ahmed with Katya

Ellen Greenblatt, Board of Directors, CRO



reachout_009rtDear Friends,

On April 20th Joan Baez and the Saadoun Al Bayati Ensemble played at CRO’s sold out benefit concert at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.  It was an exhilarating night of Joan’s singing and dancing, authentic Iraqi music, and storytelling by Iraqis who lived through the war.  All of you who attended made it possible for CRO to further the work of the “What Happened?” Project, an initiative to make public the consequences of the Iraq war.

You can visit our new YouTube channel to view several clips from the show, including Joan Baez singing a song she remembers from the year she spent in Baghdad as a child.

Upcoming events include our hosting Haider Hamza, the Iraqi journalist who created  the This American Life piece “Talk to an Iraqi.” He and CRO’s Iraqi storytellers will be featured at the Muslim/Non Muslim Dialogue at Dominican University on October 11 in San Rafael, California as well as on the UC Berkeley campus this Fall.

We are reignited in our effort to make the stories of what happened to Iraqis public.  We continue to interview and record their stories and make them available on our website. Please continue to pass the word about our work.

You can help us by making  a donation to pay for translations, transcribing, and transportation.  Just click on the donate button to the right. We remain a volunteer organization so everything you give goes to the work itself.

Please do keep in touch, and attend our dialogues and events and listen and watch our podcasts and videos.

Best in Peace,

President, CRO

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CRO is now on YouTube!

Citizens Reach Out now has its own YouTube channel. We will be uploading videos to the channel regularly. We just added several clips from the amazing Joan Baez benefit concert on April 20th at the Freight and Salvage.

Please click here to check it out–and while you’re there, make sure to subscribe to the channel to receive updates when we add new videos!

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Benefit For CRO!

You are invited to attend our Benefit Concert featuring Joan Baez. She has graciously donated her time to help support our work. Tickets will sell quickly so we hope you will buy seats now.

See you there!

Buy Tickets Online:

General Admission: $70.50

Tickets can also be purchased at the Freight and Salvage box office in person or by phone at (510) 644-2020.


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