Monday, June 20, 2005

News from Afghanistan

My wife’s niece, Reiko, was recently posted to Ghazni, Afghanistan. She is part of the MEDCAP (Medical Civilian Assistance Program) team. She’s sending updates of her experiences there to family and close friends. I’ve received her permission to post the non-personal portion of these emails on this blog. Following is her first email from Ghazni.
Hey Everyone!

Well, I am officially settled into my new home in Ghazni. I spent a short amount of time in Asadabad before I was moved to Ghazni. Asadabad was situated in a valley and was pretty nice despite the fact we were attacked by rockets the first night I arrived. The few days I was there I worked in the local clinic. Lots of burns, wounds and rashes on the locals. More medics were needed in Ghazni, so I was moved a few days later.

Ghazni is arid, hot and dusty. The people are a bit more hostile on the outskirts of town, and I've already taken fire since I've been here. I just returned from a week long MEDCAP (Medical Civilian Assistance Program). I cannot even begin to describe the types of conditions these people endure. You see infections that have been untreated for so long that you wonder how any one could survive the pain or septic shock. Some of the women are treated so poorly, that the men won't even let them see us for any type of medical care. Everyone suffers from malnutrition; the children have worms and birth defects that would never be seen in the United States.

The animal abuse out here is heartbreaking. The locals "punish" dogs by cutting off their ears, tails, or breaking their backs and hind legs. I've literally had to turn away from looking at the animals while driving so as not to focus on how badly they've been abused. Most of the animals have rabies and for obvious reasons hate humans. They will chase and jump up on the vehicles. It's like something out of a Stephen King novel.

I'm pretty well situated, but I will be doing many more MEDCAPS in the future. If anyone would like to send a care package, I am asking for pens, notebooks, candy, and small stuffed animals for the local children. Many of the children do not have pens to go to school with, so they often ask for pens and notebooks. Small stuffed animals help comfort the children while we provide medical care. Candy that is sort of heavy is the best kind to send. Jolly Ranchers, or anything that can be distributed quickly and easily while we drive through villages on the way to the MEDCAP site. We can't stop our vehicles, so I don't want any candy that is so light that it could fall/roll under the car tires. The kids get so excited that they'll rush the cars to grab the candy, so I have to be able to launch it to them from a safe distance (imagine Mardi gras in Mexico). Please don't send anything too large, expensive, or flashy as they can quickly cause riots between children. Inexpensive is the best way to go. They have very little to begin with, and won't know the difference between a 5 cent pen or a $5 pen or toy.

Thanks for your support! Miss everyone and have a great summer!

Love,

Reiko
I’ve replied to Reiko, asking her if there is anything else we can do to help. I’ll post any updates as I get them.

My wife and I are going to be sending a “care package” (or 2) to Reiko in the next few days. If you would like to send one too, please email me and I’ll send you the address to ship your donations to.

If you want to help reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan (or Iraq), there are many ways to do so. Go to the America Supports You website to learn more.

Stay safe Reiko – we’re all very proud of you.

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com