Monday, October 12, 2009

BLOG #3 First week in Kabul - Kites and Kebabs

On Wednesday, I will have been in Kabul a week. I feel I’ve been here for months! So much is going on; I’ve met many people, experienced and observed many new things. My perceptions of Afghanistan are rapidly shifting. Here is a brief list of recent observations for you to ponder.
*Kabul is much cleaner than it used to be. There are now garbage trucks which pick up neatly swept of piles of garbage. Plastic is now included in the piles since bottled water is readily available. *Driving through Kabul is crazy – hazardous at best. Air pollution is terrible in downtown Kabul since there are so many vehicles.
*The Afghans are known to be wonderfully hospitable people and I have, after only a week, experienced more than my share of that fact. I have been treated to a scrumptious meals, been given presents (head scarves, shawls), and been treated with great respect. I receive brief glances when riding around in the car, but there has not, as of yet, been anything hostile in those looks.
*We are reminded and must be always aware that we are, living in country at war. We daily read the State Dept. Incident Reports. U.S. tanks move through Kabul on occasion but our daily lives, when we are home, function in a normal manner. No one mentions the conflict unless there is an explosion or something that takes place in Kabul.
*We stopped today on the way home from the bank at a café and the guard at the door was fully armed with some kind of impressive machine gun. There was a sign at the entrance – No weapons allowed! We had a smoothie as an afternoon treat! Imagine – a banana/yogurt smoothie!
*The word on the street is that there will be a run off election. Most feel this is a good thing and that Kharzi will probably still win but it will legitimize the election.
*All the Afghans I have spoken to feel strongly that education is essential to bringing peace to this country.
*I had dinner with Mrs. Fahima Haliz, Director of Kindergartens in Afghanistan. Fahima is an impressive woman, probably in her late 50’s with an overwhelmingly important and difficult job. When I asked her what her biggest concerns were she listed, in this order: developing a standard kindergarten curriculum, obtaining supplies and educational materials and providing children with nutritious food. Some of the kindergartens are residential schools and feeding children a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables is not typical. Fahima knew about the songbooks and was very grateful they were available. She would like to have more distributed in the Provinces. She knew the people from Save the Children who help me distribute the books and she also knew and really respected Vaheed Kaacemy, the musician. All of this great news for me!
*I held my first seminar class today with 5 young women here at SOLA to work on their college interviews. I continue to be impressed and truly moved with how hard each of them is working to improve their English and push themselves beyond the expected cultural norm of being a reserved, quiet, somewhat self-effacing Afghan woman to being one who is full of confidence and articulate. Given they quite literally have no role models for this, they are doing amazingly well. Their desire to succeed, to study in the U.S. and to return to make Afghanistan a better place is inspiring.
*We have plans to drive Thursday, Oct. 15th to Bamyan for a celebration hosted by PARSA, a NGO supporting Afghan women and children. They are opening a new Family Park. While there, I will visit the Ayenda Learning Center and meet with the headmaster. This is a newly built school/orphanage that recently received 500 songbooks.

As you can see, a lot is happening here. There are hundreds of individuals, NGO’s and Afghan organizations working hard to put this country back on its feet. Sadly, these stories don’t make the news. I will try to continue to paint the picture as I experience it here. Oh....and yes, kites darting through the sky are a familiar site , particularly on Friday, the day of rest. And last Saturday we had a little one year anniversary party for SOLA and Khafir Mohammad, who works here at SOLA, made ,by far, the most delicious kebabs in the world! (see photo)

I welcome your questions and comments. Thank you again for following along.


  1. Chili and I are snuggled down for the night (Victory! she loves me!)
    I'm reading your blog to her aloud and she's wondering why you're a world away when her food dish is empty...again.
    Your blog is amazing. What an amazing journey is unfolding already!
    I'm honored to be a follower!
    Last week in the national Arts Education Forum Martha M. talked about this trip as an example of the outstanding scholarship happening at Lesley. I was so proud of what you have accomplished and how this has come full circle with your visit back! Keep blogging!

  2. It is so amazing to hear about your experiences. For so long you have been tracking the songbooks from here and now you can experience it all first hand and see the children face to face. I will keep following!!!