Thursday, August 18, 2005

News from Afghanistan - Part 4

I recently received another email from my wife's niece, Reiko, stationed in Afghanistan:
Greetings from Afghanistan!! I have gotten several emails from people wondering if I am OK, so I thought I would send out an update on the adventures in Afghanistan.

Things are heating up due to elections in September. Attacks on US troops have increased, and we have at least one IED go off on in the Ghazni province on a daily basis. I was in Nawa last week for a mission, and they had an IED that went off and killed a medic in an up-armored HUMVEE yesterday. It hits close to home when events like that happen in places I just visited.

Most of my missions this past month have been supporting the Civil Affairs team. We just recently received our funding for medicines, so we were not able to go out on any MEDCAPs for lack of medical supplies. With the IED's threatening the area, the only people going out are the combat operation teams for the time being. Which is a good thing because I have no desire to come home in a body bag.

I have begun to see first hand much of the corruption and oppression that plagues Afghanistan. I've seen clinics that have no medical supplies because the doctor was selling it off and pocketing the money. We have been focusing a lot of our attention in the Pashtu areas since we are trying to win their support. The Pashtu's are known for their sympathies to the Taliban and haven't progressed over the years. Many areas make excuses why the girls do not attend school. Most of the areas we visit you never even see the girls because they are kept working or hidden. If they are brave enough to come out they are usually chased away by the boys, but they are usually too scared to come near us.

We have jokingly started our own "Affirmative Action" program. We'll wade through the Pashtu boys and go straight to the girls where we hand out the pens, candy and stuffed animals. I figure it will probably be the only highlight in their life because most Pashtu's openly treat women and girls as second class citizens. It may be stereotyping, but most of us serving out here will agree that the Pashtu's are the greedier, pushier, and rudest of the population. It figures they are the majority in the country.

I just returned from a humanitarian mission in Wardak. We dropped some supplies to the local schools and villages and the Civil Affairs team was following up on some projects that the US is funding. I can't imagine growing up in this country. Most of these people have never seen a doctor, can't read or write, and have no idea what lies beyond the next ridge. I never would have imagined that I would one day be the tech, nurse, doctor, and pharmacist for an entire village. It's strange to have the locals address me as, "Doctor." They think I can cure anything from blindness to birth defects. I can't seem to explain that I can't heal all that ails them, but our medicine is miraculous in their eyes.

Again, thank you all for your support. We have been fortunate out here that we have not had any incidents that caused us any serious injuries. I can't wait to come home and enjoy paved roads, indoor plumbing, and McDonalds!!

Love,
Reiko

Previous postings from Reiko are here, here and here.

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