Friday, November 27, 2009

Stop Violence Against Women

It's been a while since my last post and I have a lot of things to say and pictures to share. The next several posts will be out of order, but I'll get everything down.

First off, a couple days ago I went to a Stop Violence Against Women Conference. It was somewhat comical since violence against women will never stop in Afghanistan, but it was my first time to observe a gathering of Afghan women in public. When the PRT arrived at the conference site, there were around 70 women already seated. They weren't wearing burqas, but they were wearin
g headscarves that covered everything but their eyes since men were present. When we walked into the building, 70 pairs of eyes immediately focused on us. It was really eerie looking back at all these sets of eyes. The women were also very skittish, like antelopes that could be dinner for a hungry lion at any moment. They each carried a burqua as just another accessory like their cell phone or purse. When the conference was over and it was time to leave, they put on their burqas (heaven forbid someone should see their eyes) and left the compound.
As far as Thanksgiving and the holiday season, I think it's best to pretend like these events don't exist. It makes the pain of being stuck in Afghanistan, away from loved ones much easier. I do have a bright spot: it looks like Scott and I will be able to take leave together and go back to the UK in January. It won't be a long time at home, but a day there is a day that I'm not here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Deh Bala

Not long ago we went on an engineering mission to check up on some of our road projects. This is one of my favorite missions because we can check on three important roads at once and the scenery is beautiful. I also got to check-up on the village where our MRAPs were stuck. I recognized one little boy and gave him a life saver, even though he wanted a pen. Go sugar! We ran into a little trouble on the way back with a flat tire, so we're all convinced that this particular mission is cursed.
Our convoy commander, Mac, gives the crew a convoy brief at the Cinema before we roll out.

The scenery in southern Deh Bala is so beautiful because the Spin Ghars (White Mountains) make up half of the district. They have a history of insurgent activity.

Torkham Gate

A couple weeks ago, the new PRT Commander visited us for his orientation. He's a great guy and we showed him some of our high visibility projects. We went to Torkham Gate, on the border with Pakistan. That place is a lot of fun. We even were hosted by an Afghan Border Police (ABP) Colonel who showed us around the ABP compound, which is built into the side of a mountain. He was a real character.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Women of Wigal Valley

"The women of Wigal Valley are very beautiful, just like you."

About a week ago the PRT dropped some humanitarian aid (HA) off in the Wigal Valley. The HA was for the women, mostly widows, who make a living by carrying bags of cement up a mountain side. They are very poor and have many children to look after. So, the PRT gave them winter clothing and pots
and pans. The women were very hardened and did not want us taking pictures of them. The mission was successful and I made some friends along the way.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cutest Child Ever?

Is this the cutest child ever, or what?