Monday, November 29, 2010

Afghanistan Day 192 : KAIA

Yesterday, the Afghan Women's Project had a brief bazaar at the defac. 

I was able to get a few photos of the set up.  It's really a cool initiative.  The products are all made by women (although some male employees get tasked with selling the items) and go directly to benefit women's needs in Kabul, Peshawar, and several smaller provinces.  

One of the women insisted that I was Afghan.  She came up to me, scolding me in Dari, and then grabbed my arm, kissed my cheek and drug me over to her table.  Eventually, I was able to half convince her I was American and I didn't understand her.  Then she proceeded to begin Dari lessons on the spot.  She made me repeat everything she said until I pronounced it the way she liked.  

She taught me:   I am happy.  I want to go to the bathroom.

The workers at the tables near us burst out laughing, as I combined the two statements in practice.  Then everyone was teasing me for wanting to be happy in the bathroom.  Clearly, my instant Dari lessons were a success.  

These women and their children study English whenever and where ever they can.  I wish so much that I could go to a school and offer classes for the women.  I wish I could spend time with them in their homes and join them in their daily tasks.  These people are so easy to love, the women work so hard and they never give up.  They inspire me.

Afghanistan Day 192 : KAIA

One of the teachers who lives on KAIA but works at another teaching site, not mine, recently purchased a bicycle.  I am extremely envious of his big ticket item.  When he showed it to me he said:
"The light doesn't work, the breaks are broken, and of course the wheels are not round."

"It's PERFECT" I breathed in awe.  

Only in Afghanistan!


Afghanistan Day 192 : NMAA

This past week (and continuing sporadically over the next two weeks) is the junior class English testing at NMAA.  This means I have to drag around enough tests for 150 people, the supplies (scantrons, pencils, pencil sharpeners, cds and tapes, etc., every day.  There is no good way to secure them at the university.  One day I put them in the vehicle (2 bags) and then ran back in the building to get my battle armor, but my coworkers forgot me and drove off.  I FREAKED out, not because I was forgotten (I guess it IS possible to forget me) but because I was not in the presence of my test materials.  I really lit into the Master Sgt who was driving and explained that test materials must remain secure and that someone needs to have vis on them all the time.  

The other day, I had to leave the office to go pick up some support proctors and asked who would be around.  My Master Sgt readily agreed to babysit the secure test materials.  When I returned from driving, this is what I saw:

Well done!  :-D

Afghanistan Day 192 : NMAA

And then there were care packages...
THANK YOU for your support.  It really makes our day! 

We've had some great packages lately from CI, MS, Zion Lutheran Church, Mr. Vargas, among many other generous and thoughtful folks stateside.  You guys ROCK! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Afghanistan Day 188: KAIA


Gobble Gobble day consisted of work, mess hall, and more work.  I did get to take a quick break to enjoy some holiday coloring with my roommie.  

I am thankful for the people near and far in Afghanistan and other countries who go out in harm's way hourly to provide the opportunities for saftey and peace for us and locals now and in the future.  Be sure to thank them for being willing to suffer on your behalf- not just with the ever present dangers of the day, but also the inconveniences and annoyances of being stuck away from home.  
I am thankful for my wonderful toliets in my house in Texas.  
I am thankful for the abundant bottled water everywhere on the bases.
I am thankful for the beautiful people that I have met and for the things they have shared with me and taught me.  
I am thankful for the opportunity to be involved in direct impact in a place where it matters and where progress is often obvious and immediate.  
I am thankful for my students, past and present.  The people I teach bless my life richly and help me in ways I am not even aware of yet. 
I am grateful with my friends who put up with my chattering and try to meet my demands and still treat me with love and kindness.  
I am thankful for those friends/family at home who have done things for my house and my mail, etc. while I am deployed. 
I am thankful for technology, especially when it works, and I am thankful for you!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Afghanistan Day 174: KAIA (part 3)

Ms. Carol, of Texas, might be Team NMAA's biggest fan.  She recently sent us some additions to our team.  Oscar was the first to meet the gang yesterday, at our Remembrance Banquet.  

Note:  The blog photos involving Oscar with Coalition forces had to be removed.  Sorry! 

Afghanistan Day 174: KAIA (part 2)

11 November is the US celebrated Veterans Day.  
NMAA had a ceremony combined with a hail & farewell and banquet.


Col N's Remarks:
We pause on this Veteran's Day, 2010 to rededicate ourselves to the honor and privilege of service to our Nation.  The purpose of this day is to remind each of us of a singular truth about our profession.  In our various roles as leaders, educators, trainers, and advisors to the Afghans of NMAA we ought to take care to recall this singular truth each day...that our interactions with the Afghans has the potential to change their life.  This is a truth that carries with it some remarkable responsibility.   Our human failings in heeding it can be cause for regret but our most profound satisfaction will always spring from those positive influences we have on others.  We are all here because we love our country, we admire the commitment of our Afghan brethren trying to secure their future, and we embrace the values that require the sacrifice of our own comfort and convenience in service to our Country and its people.  It is a blessing to each of us that we have this opportunity to serve them and each other, and it is the purpose of this celebration to remind us that every interaction we have with the Afghans and with each other will have a consequence.

We commemorate the contributions of the many members of this team who have voluntarily gone into harm's way to create an Academy for Afghans with the potential to celebrate its own future anniversaries.

Today, back at West Point, my Department is opening a Hall of Honor.  The centerpiece of that room is a dedication of sacrifice of one of our cadets... LT Tim Cunningham, Class of 2006 and a Nuclear Engineering major; however, the purpose of that ceremony is not only to memorialize Tim, but it is to celebrate him as an exemplar of that singular truth to which I referred and to what Veteran's day is all about.

LT Cunningham and many other like him that paid the ultimate sacrifice remains an exemplar of the singular truth that this day remind us of:  that every interaction we have with our Afghan friends, our fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, our Turkish brethren and with each other has the potential to change someone's life-and that it is up to us to make that change for the better.

So today we celebrate that singular truth manifested in two outstanding team members that have dedicated their service to changing the lives of our team, our Afghan and Turkish brethren, and for themselves.


Afghanistan Day 174: KAIA

As it's my birthday week, and everyone has to prepare in advance to do anything on-time-ish in this country, N1 & N2 began by asking me what I wanted to get as a present.
I indicated that I was still on my quest to receive something uniquely Canadian.  They offered me a lively young corporal as my first option.  After I convinced them that human trafficking was NOT an appropriate birthday gift, even in Afghanistan, they began plotting and planning. 

Eventually, the discovered the PERFECT Canadian birthday gift:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Afghanistan Day 173 : KAIA

So my photography has begun inspiring mixed media art, internationally. 

This BRILLIANT piece was created for profit, by N2's daughter.  

It was based on  this image:

Afghanistan Day 173 : KAIA

Happy Halloweenie from Carol to Team NMAA, et al!

Thank you Ms. Carol!

Of course, N1 & N2 couldn't miss out on the sweet treat action.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Afghanistan Day 171: NMAA

A very Afghan Birthday to me!