Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A contrast of experiences

I headed outside to the backyard this afternoon to study a little Dari, only to find Fatimeh and Husnia playing ball with Kadija. Kadija, who is deaf, lives in a nearby orphanage but is part of the SOLA "family". She comes here daily and Maria, an American living nearby comes over to teach her ASL. All the other students are learning ASL in the process. Up until SOLA “adopted” Kadija she had no language at all. She’s about 7 yrs. old. She is the only deaf child in the orphanage. I’ve noticed a remarkable change in her development in 2 weeks. I took a couple of semesters of ASL years ago and it’s coming back although it's stretching me a bit to try to recall both ASL and Dari at the same time! Soon Shiehk joined in with the ball game. He’s on crutches due to an injury early on in his life and really only has one functional leg. I gave up on my Dari and joined in. They were having too much fun. We tossed the ball, kicked it, soon everyone was trying to bounce it off their head. I taught them the concept of “hot potato” which got translated somehow. The laughter was contagious. Simple fun, everyone having a good time. Shiehk managed olympic moves on one foot. Life is simple here. I’m continuously struck by how easy it is to have fun with seemingly very little.

In contrast, last evening we were out to dinner with an American who is working with the election, trying to sort out the mess. He told us, but I’m sure you now all know, that there is to be a run off. Karzai, after all the fraudulent ballots were thrown out, ended up with about 48%. He believes the run off must occur within a week or two because otherwise the weather gets bad in places and no one can get to the polls. It is predicted that Karzai will win but this runoff will at least try to make it seem legitimate. The outright fraud that occurred was ridiculous and does make Karzai look quite bad. There was a story of one polling station in Kabul was checked at 8:05AM, only minutes after opening, and 5000 ballots were already submitted! I liked this fellow and was particularly struck with his care and respect for the Afghans. This is not true, unfortunately, of all “internationals” who work here.

GOOD NEWS! He was very excited about the Songbook Project and made a sizeable donation on the spot. Oh my. I was beside myself. His comment – What you and the work SOLA are doing restores the kind of image we used to have in Afghanistan. I think the same goes for him. A big Tashakor goes to him as well.

Getting to the restaurant, by the way, provided the contrast in living here. We went through 3 check points on the road to the restaurant at which point policeman look into our car. Ted's jeep is well known and we were waved through fairly quickly. Then, in order to get down the road to the restaurant there was a check point barrier, a guy with an AK47 who checked us out, another gate, another guard. And a guy at the door of the restaurant was also armed. Before going to the restaurant we stopped at the super market to get cash at the ATM. Again, at least 3 armed guards were standing in front of the market. I find it scary, sobering but also reassuring. Someone, it feels, is paying attention. Perhaps it's false security but even so, they are there. All of it, though, a reminder that Afghanistan is on high alert.

No comments:

Post a Comment