I just got back from a Humanitarian Assistance (HA) mission. We went to a school located in Pol-e Charki. All I have to say is that it was absolute pandemonium. It was definitely an experience that I will never forget. We pulled up to the school with 9 vehicles. One of them was a flat bed truck with 14 “inserts” on them. Inserts are large 5 foot x 5 foot cardboard boxes. The boxes were loaded with brand new cloths, shoes, and school supplies. I have to emphasize that although it was chaotic it was not angry chaos, rather, it was more like excited chaos. I would compare it to teenie boppers at a High School Musical concert kind of crazy. The children were all very nice and fun they were just all very excited to see us. When we got there we unloaded the flatbed truck and spread out into different parts of the school. I was assigned to the “primary school” which is grades 1st-5th which had about 1,300 students.
As you can see from some of the pictures in the photo book on the right column the school is not exactly in the best shape. I included a picture of the bathroom not to be disgusting but rather to highlight how primitive it really is. The bathroom is essentially a small hole in the ground. There is no running water or toilet paper and the waste is never removed. The class rooms were just as bad. They were basically empty rooms with old broken desks inside. Children were crowded inside sitting on the ground.
When we arrived it was orderly for about 20 minutes. All of the students were all well behaved staying in their classrooms. After we started handing out the shoes is when it started to get a little crazy. There was no way to make sure that every child got a pair of shoes. There were just too many kids. We made sure to reward a class that was really well behaved. We were able to give shoes to at least one entire classroom.
There were kids everywhere. I was surrounded by a large groups. They would ask me for my pen, my notebook, my watch. I kept saying “Estad sho” which is Dari for “stop.” I would also say “burro” which means “go.” Like I said, it was all done with a smile. I would smile and say “burro” and they would smile back and say “burro” right back. The teachers were just resigned to the chaos.
I felt really sorry for this little girl. She really needs a bath and some new cloths.
In all of the melee one of the kids split open his upper lip. I was able to suture it back together. I had very limited supplies so I was not even able to numb him up. I was so shocked at how stoic he was. The cut was located over a very sensitive area and he hardly flinched.
I am in the process of writing an article for the base paper. Today I felt like a real reporter. I had my pen and pad out and I was interviewed a teacher and some students. When (I should probably say if) it gets published I will make it available on my site. I am also going to try and upload some of the videos from today.
Thanks for reading.