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When U.S. Army Maj. Jim Lawson first visited Halabja, he was struck by the poverty of the city.

Residents, many still suffering the effects of a horrific chemical attack 21 years ago, often live in crumbling homes with inadequate access to medical care and basic services.

Lawson asked the town’s mayor what the people need, and the response was good clothing. Halabja is in a mountainous area and winters can be quite cold.

Lawson called his wife, Melissia Lawson, in Atlanta to ask for help, expecting to get a few boxes of clothing. Instead she and other members of the Midway Macedonia Baptist Church in Villa Rica, Ga., filled a two car garage with donations.

Now Lawson is just waiting for the clothes to get on a flight to Kirkuk from where he and other members of the 4100 Border Transition Team will take them to Halabja to distribute them.

Lawson said it’s just a small part of an effort, which includes two water projects, to help the people of Halabja and show them that people are interested in their town for more than tragic anniversaries.

"We want to give them something else to identify with," he said.

The 4100 Border Transition Team is responsible for Iraq’s entire three-province Kurdish semi-autonomous region and are working on getting at least one civil affairs project started in each province.

— Heath Druzin

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