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American Students Cover Postwar Aftermath, Kids Style

August 23, 1991

KUWAIT CITY (AP) _ Randy McDade, a sophomore at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, has come to Kuwait to report the news - kid’s style.

″CNN and the other large media have neglected to get the children’s view,″ he said. ″We want the Kuwaiti kids and the Palestinian kids to have their say.″

McDade, 16, and three other Indianapolis youngsters have spent a week touring homes, schools and hotels damaged during Iraq’s seven-month occupation of Kuwait.

They are part of a current events program called Children’s Express, and their reports are carried each Monday in the Indianapolis Star newspaper.

At home they have authored stories on teenage pregnancy, gang violence and the state’s educational budget.

Here they wanted to learn about children’s problems with the Gulf War and its aftermath. And they’ve experienced a few of their own.

″The other day we were in our rooms and we heard this loud bang, an explosion,″ said Meg McIntyre, 12, a seventh grader at Belzer Middle School. ″We went running down to ask about it.″

What they heard was the detonation of land mines still being collected from Kuwait City’s beach by demolition experts.

Cindy Peterson, 16, of Lawrence North High School, said she got the idea about traveling to Kuwait this year while watching Gulf War coverage on television.

″In January we did interviews with kids whose parents were in the (Persian) Gulf,″ she said. ″We thought maybe later we’d try to find their parents.″

The trip got delayed until after Kuwait’s liberation on Feb. 26, so Kuwaiti children have been their focus.

Asked what she had learned, Miss Peterson said: ″Pigs don’t exist in Kuwait.″ Most Kuwaitis are Muslims, who do not eat pork.

She said she also got a kick out of the graffiti on Kuwait City walls. ″There’s a lot of ‘I love George Bush’ out there,″ she said.

McDade said one child had recounted a story of a cat.

″A man’s cat got sick and he put it in the car to take to the vet. But they got stopped at a checkpoint, and an Iraqi soldier took the cat out of the car and broke his neck,″ McDade said.

Kathryn Schnippel, 16, of Benjamin Davis High School, said she was ″really hit by the damage.″ She described stores that had been looted and burned, hotel rooms that were trashed, airport hangars that were damaged.

Miss Schnippel said she was expecially concerned about the future of Palestinian children.

″You can’t tell the difference between the Kuwaitis and the Palestinians,″ she said of the people. ″But the Palestinians are losing their jobs, they are living in slums.″

Before the war, about 400,000 Palestinians lived in Kuwait. But many famililes have lost jobs and have been forced to leave because the Palestine Liberation Organization supported Iraq in the conflict.

Palestinian children have been banned from attending Kuwaiti public schools, which start this Saturday.

″The Palestinian children don’t understand why Kuwaitis are mad at them,″ Miss Schnippel said.

The Children’s Express works out of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, with funds from the Lilly Endowment. Kuwaiti Airways, the national carrier, provided free plane tickets for them and their adviser, Lynn Sygiel.

There are six other Children’s Express news bureaus in Melbourne, Australia; Wellington, New Zealand; San Francisco, New York, Boston and Newark, N.J.

Update hourly