Problog

Hello and welcome to my blog. It is a blog about an Air Force Physician that was reluctantly deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan for 6 months.

I have to admit, I did not exactly volunteer for the deployment, and I was a little anxious about how it would all turn out. I ended up making the best of it, and surprisingly, I actually had a pleasant, life changing, experience.

I decided to keep the blog up and running because I kept on hearing, "Why is it that you only hear the bad news coming from Iraq and Afghanistan." I figured that I was helping spread a positive message about what we are doing over. Even more important, I wanted to continue to spread the word about the plight of the Afghan people, 99.9% of which are the most incredibly friendly people that you will ever meet. The title picture is a great example of that. I have never encountered such genuinely warm and friendly people. It was so strange to see so many people with so little material objects, yet at the same time, filled with so much of the joy that comes with close family ties, abundant friends, and a close knit community. We could definetly learn a lot from them.

You may notice, as you read the blog in its entirety, my arc. I shift from focusing on myself and my personal comforts, to shifting my focus on the Afghan cause. It is very easy to get distracted by the hustle of daily life and the comforts that the U.S. provides. It is really a challenge to awake from that coma and to start to care and think about the welfare of other people unrelated to you. I think it really took me about 4 or 5 months before I really opened my eyes and became personally affected by what I was experiencing. I hope I was able to recreate it.

I have tried to keep the blog squeaky clean so as to not offend anyone (or get me in trouble-I am still in the military). Even though I am a political junky with very strong personal opinions I have been steadfast in keeping this site free of any politics. I was called to do a job and I tried to do it to the best of my ability regardless of my political stance.

I recreated the blog to read more like a book, or should I say blook (get used to the corniness it only gets worse from here) just to make it an easier read. I have removed some names and pictures just to keep it more anonymous. I hope that it helps in making it less about me and more about the cause.

Lastly, in the spirit of the blog, I decided to include the Chipin Widget that I used to raise money for Nazia. If I get any additional money I will send the funds to The Women of Hope Project and someone over in Kabul will discretely give it to her (unless I hear otherwise). You can also contribute directly to the Women of Hope Project website. They are a wonderful cause. If you enjoy this blog then feel free to contribute. I am sure that once you read her story you will be very moved.

So kick back. Get ready to hopefully laugh and definitely cry.
If you like what you read then post a comment. I will be continuously editing this site in an attempt to improve it. Who knows maybe one day it will become a book!

Enjoy. Thanks for reading.

-Shazdoc

Today Show Clip

Chipin Widget

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Have a Rainbow of a Day

"Change is the process by which the future invades our lives."
-
Alvin Toffler

Today during our convoy we actually saw a man pulling a decorated camel on the side of the busy surface streets. Whenever you drive the streets of Kabul just about every corner has a site that causes you to shake your head in surprise. Whether it is 5 kids hanging their legs out of a open car trunk of a moving car, or people piled on top of a roof of a bus because it is too full, to a beggar literally sitting in the middle of a busy street in the same location everyday, to freshly skinned goats with abnormally large dariers hanging from ropes outside of shops, to jingle trucks that are stacked amazingly high with almost anything you can imagine, to an old guy riding a bike with the fur of 10 freshly skinned goats hanging from the back. There is always one surprise after another.

Another interesting thing that you see when you drive are these huge really nice buildings that are wedding halls. One of them is ironically called the Kabul Paris Wedding Hall. Speaking of wedding halls, I thought that it would be interesting if I discussed how men and women get engaged in Afghanistan. For one thing, there is no such thing as dating. Usually when men are in their mid 20s the first thing they must do is save up for the wedding ceremony. Wedding are a really big deal over here. A lot of people are invited (like 2,000) and a lot of money is spent (I have heard one interpreter tell me that he spent $17,000). Considering the average salary is $100.00 a month, that is a lot of money. When a man likes another women the usual protocol is to approach your parents and let them know that you have an interest in someone and would like their approval. The man's parents then approach the women's parents to seek their approval. If both parents are in favor of the marriage then you have a match. I know it does not sound very fair for the women but her parents obviously look out for their daughter and, for the most part, want her to be matched up appropriately with someone that is worthy of their daughter (or at least I hope they do). What is also interesting is how low the divorce rate is. At least according to the interpreter, divorce is very rare over here.

I will list some other random interesting info that I learned from my interpreter today. The emergency phone number is not 9-1-1 it is 1-0-0. I pointed to a building that on the outset appeared somewhat run down, I asked the interpreter if it was considered a nice place to live. He informed me that wealthy Afghans live in these high rise condos and that they are actually very expensive. The main reason is because they are a lot safer then ground level homes. He said that people do not go out at night because of the crime.

For some reason I was also surprised to learn that they have a a fire department, weekly trash pickup, cable TV with 40 channels, banks (they do not use ATMs or credit cards). He said that they have a few ATMs in Kabul but they are not commonly used by Afghans.

Today we made a lot of progress at the new clinic. We basically had the entire staff over and they were all working diligently moving furniture and setting up their offices. There was a moment today when I was standing on the second floor in the midst of all of the commotion and noise of people moving furniture all around me. I just had to stop and smile with satisfaction. I thought to myself, "Ahhh, the sweet sound of progress being made." You can just tell that the staff are all excited and motivated to start working in their new clinic. This will be a huge improvement for them and they should be proud at how far they have come.

When I got back today I had 2 large packages waiting for me. Someone from Plano, Texas sent 75 knitted caps in all different colors and patterns. Can you believe it?!? She did not include a letter so I do not know if it was done by one person or a team of people. Let's stop and think about it. It probably takes 1 week to knit a single cap. Did it take her a year and a half to knit all of the caps? Just thinking about the time and effort that went into them is just amazing. When I put one of the caps on I noticed that there were also little notes inside many of them. Here is what some of them said:

Each stitch a prayer for your safe keeping.

May your guardian angle be at your side.

Each stitch binds us together with love.

The shipping alone cost over $25.00. How do you thank someone for a gift like this?

We also received a very nice Thank You card with a 75 minute phone card in it from someone in Euclid, Ohio. She had a great quote, I hope she does not mind if I print it, "Have a rainbow of a day." I think that it is physically impossible to say that phrase out loud without having a smile come to your face. I liked it so much that I made it the title of today's post.

So, try it out, tell someone tomorrow to have a rainbow of a day tomorrow. See if it brings a smile to their face. I bet it will.

Thanks for reading.

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