Thursday, July 15, 2010

Touching Lives in Afghanistan - Michael

This was our first foray into an IDP camp (Internally Displaced Persons) to hand out supplies. 

These people were refugees from the fighting to the south.  They were fleeing from Taliban fighters who would intimidate, steal and kill indescrimately amongst the populace.  The camp they were living in was next to or more accurately put, in a garbage dump.  The smell was rather strong.  The filth of the debris was everywhere. 

The tents were shabby, makeshift things hardly worth noticing except for the fact that you knew they were "home" for 87 families and that this was better than where they were coming from.

We had been working toward a trip into the community since I arrived.  It took three months for all of the pieces to fall into place.  We worked with an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) to make it happen.  The supplies are the result of people sending things to service member that in turn hand off some of these items to the chapel.  The NGO does the work of scouting into the community to find locations that are truly in need.  They also help us to organize the supplies into meaningful and appropriate packages for these families.  We were not able to bring any where as near as many people as we would like, but this was dictated by the need for security and to keep our time "on the ground" to a minimum. 

The kids were very dirty, always a bit hungry and very much in need of true security.  We could not give them any of these, but we were able to give some clothing, shoes and some school supplies. 

The adults walked in a daze that seemed as if they were on the edge of despair.  One might ask why they continue to live in these conditions.  I would love to wax eloquent on the subject, but that is for another time. 

The men were dressed in mostly traditional clothing.  As for the women, some just wore dresses, others had their faces covered, still others wore the full birka.  It was quite an interesting span of choices.

One of the fun items we passed out was candy.  You know the kids were not sure waht it was although they did not mind taking it.  Our NGO friend opened one lollipop and put it into the mouth of one of the kids.  There was a little bit of resistance and then it was like a light bulb lit up behind the eyes and a huge smile spread from ear to ear.  It was fun to see.  Now for all of you who think we are contributing to tooth decay, yes we are, but only to a minor extent when you consider that this will probably be the only candy any of these kids will have for months on end.  All in all, we are not too concerned about this issue.

Our public affairs folks came along for the trip as well.  I had the fun of being wired for sound during the entire show.  Quite a few times our videographer would stop me and ask questions as he tried to capture everything that was happening.  The video should appear on Youtube and perhaps on an evening news station somewhere - maybe AFN news back home.  The photographer will be posting photos and writing an article as well.

Kudoes go to my Chaplain Assistant, SSgt Brad.  He was a great help in setting things up and keeping things orderly at the distribution site.  Kudoes also go to our NGO folks who organized all of the supplies.  Huge kudoes go to the UK contingent who organized all of our force protection and transportation issues.  Both Brad and I were very impressed at their professionalism and thoroughness.  We hope to do another trip sometime in the future.


Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...


Jared said...

That is really neat that y'all are able to do that! That's terrible about their living conditions and the poverty.....

Anonymous said...

The poverty truly is amazing. What is more amazing is the amount of garbage. When we rolled into the area, a pickup truck (just like the ones we see all the time in Japan - you know, can never seem to move faster than 30Kmh) was stopped right at there on the road throwing bags of garbage onto the side of the street. If you go to the blog to the pic of the smiling little boy, you would only have to turn 15 degrees to the left to see the bags of garbage that guy just dumped. I can not imagine such total disregard for their own city as that. No one stopped him or said anything. Hmmm

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

I'm so glad you were able to get out and do this... a bit of a reality check to see the guys with their guns hovering around the fringes. I'm sure it was a nice break for all to be able to interact with the refugees we seek to help.

We'll have to look for you on Youtube. On a personal great that during a week when I've not blogged - you filled the blog. Team work! LOL

Cynthia said...

Mike, I sure enjoy reading your posts from afar!

Anonymous said...

I am honored to be a contributing commentator on the family blog. I had been thinking about the other items for a bit - you know how it goes. After a while you just "have" to blog about it or it will explode inside of you.

By Grace

Anonymous said...

Mike: So good to see YOU! Good looking even in your military stuff.

What an awesome experience. So glad it all came together for you. Is there anyway we can send stuff for the next trip? Do they only accept new stuff?

love/prayers - Mom T.