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Welcome to Bernie's Iraq

Camp Life Page 3
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Most of the labor is done by men and women who are grouped together and known as TCNs (Third Country Nationals).  Most of these people come from the Phillipines, India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka.  There are also many local Iraqis that are hired each day to work on the camps.  They work under the direction and leadership of the KBR expats.  They are incredibly hard working, earn so much less than we do, don't have many of the creature comforts in their camps that we do, and never complain.  The economy in their home countries is so poor they are just grateful for the work.  One of the coolest things I've seen as we all work together is watching the expats, who are their labor foremans, make sure they are treated well and have what they need that they can't get for themselves.  While we get three paid ten day vacations a year, these folks sign a two year contract which includes NO vacation time.  And, if they get ill more than three times they are told they'll be sent home.  So many of them work when they are ill, or have injuries for fear they'll lose their jobs.  They are not KBR employees, but rather are contracted by other companies that then have agreements with KBR.  I've met some really special people among them and they, by example, have taught me much about gratefulness for the little things.

Meet Leroy...Johnnie's Sidekick
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Leroy is From Sri Lanka

Leroy Calling Home to Speak to His Family
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Leroy isn't his given name.  He chose it because (as he tells it) his real name is difficult to pronounce and he likes 'Leroy'.  He has a wife and two daughters at home in Sri Lanka and grew rice.  It wasn't enough to sustain him and give his family what they wanted so he's been working in the middle east for several years now.  Before Iraq he was in Saudi Arabia.  He speaks three languages, and can read and write English.  Having been away from them for so long, he obviously misses them a great deal.  I asked him why he extended his time over here and his answer was that this was the only way his daughters had a chance of going to medical school.  He said he'll work as long as it takes to put them through school and help them realize their dreams.

Johnnie and Leroy
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The company Leroy works for provides him with a calling card which gives him about six minutes a month to be able to talk to his family.  Then too, on his camp, there are about a dozen phones for 2000 employees.  We gave him a calling card as a gift and a phone to use....his smile says it all.  That was weeks ago and he's still saying thank you.  Johnnie is his supervisor, so throughout the day, he makes sure he gets good meals, plenty of water and has to force him to take short breaks in the shade.  He's an older man now, but works the same 12 hours/7days a week as those much younger than him, and accomplishes just as much, if not more.  He asked us to come visit he and his family someday when he gets back home.  That is something we will one day do. 

Leroy Operating the RC..Johnnie Dubbed Him
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'Pigpen' Since a Dust Cloud is Always Around Him.