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.


Today Show Clip

Chipin Widget

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Haven To Sail For

For the cause that lacks assistance, For the wrong that needs resistance, For the future in the distance, And the good that I can do.
-George Linnaeus Banks, What I Live For

Common folk, not statesmen, nor generals nor great men of affairs, but just simple plain men and women, can do something to build a better, peaceful world. The future hope of peace lies with such personal …. service.
-Henry Cadbury, [accepting the Nobel Peace Prize]

The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth. It is obvious that man is himself a traveler; that the purpose of the world is not ‘to have and to hold’ but ‘to give and to serve’. There can be no other meaning.
-Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell

Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find somebody in need, and help that person. To overcome discouragement, don’t focus on yourself, get involved in the lives of other people.”
Said in answer to the question: "What would you advise a person to do if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?” -Karl Menninger

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.
-Albert Schweitzer

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
-Rabindranath Tagore

Joy can only be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.
-Leo Tolstoy

To desire and strive to be of some service to the world, to aim at doing something which shall really increase the happiness and welfare and virtue of mankind - this is a choice which is possible for all of us; and surely it is a good haven to sail for.
-Henry Van Dyke

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.
-Woodrow Wilson

Sorry for so many quotes. I hope people realize the reason why I pick particular quotes is because, not only do I like them, but they are also meant to inspire people. I hope no one thinks that they are self directed.

I was thinking a little bit about service over the past couple of weeks. The unique thing about Kabul, or Afghanistan, is that there is so much of a need out there. There are literally thousands of ways one could do just the smallest thing to make a really big difference in someone’s life. It is not just a cliché to say that you get joy from giving. Some of my best experiences in Afghanistan have been the times when I have been doing things for other people. There was a time in the deployment when I was receiving a lot of care packages. It was a really nice gesture from people, but at the same time it was made me feel a little guilty. I think that most of us over here are able to buy the stuff that we want, so everything that we receive in the mail, for the most part, we really do not need. It was not until I started to receive stuff that was meant for poor Afghans did I really start to look forward to the packages. I thought to myself, “Wow, I can not wait to see how happy the kids will be to get this.”

The problem with living in the U.S. is that there is not really the same sort of need that there is over here in Kabul. Sure you have a lot of poor people, but our poor people have televisions and cars and social security, disability insurance, welfare, free health clinics, food stamps, etc. Over here being poor means that you have nothing. You are left to fend for yourself in a very harsh environment. You have children that spend their day begging for money or picking through trash for some food.

Mothers begging for spare change with their babies in their arms.

Kids working hard jobs instead of going to school.

Entire families living in tents with no electricity or running water.

Beautiful children in the middle of the street begging for money.

Children collecting dirty water to bring back home for their entire family to drink.

It is really easy to help these folks. You give them a pair of gloves or some boots and you have just drastically changed their quality of life. The problem with getting involved back home is, for one, you are just too busy with your own life, your kids, your bills, your spouse, etc.. Furthermore, you are able to reason in your mind why you do not need to help out others. You say to yourself, “Oh, they can go to a homeless shelter,” or, “They probably just have mental health problems,” and so you just go on living your life. You then get caught up in your routine and before you know it a year has past and you are wondering why you are feeling so unfulfilled.

So when you live in the U.S. it is actually 100 times harder to not only find a worthy cause to contribute to, but also, to find the time out of your busy life to dedicate to it. Even so, I still say go ahead and try. I can truly say that there has been no more enjoyable experience (besides marriage, kids, etc) then the joy I have felt providing service to those that are unable to help themselves.

I do not want to get too off topic but I was reading about Brittney Spears earlier today and about all of the problems that she has been having. It is all very sad. I guarantee you, if she were to join the peace corps for one year and actually provide service to other people, she would get more fulfillment and enjoyment then she has ever had. It would probably be the greatest mental health intervention that she could ever ask for.

So my point of all of this is, if you are not already doing it, then I highly recommend doing some sort of community service activity. The key is you can not benefit from it in any way (ironically you will, but you know what I mean). Just find a good cause and just act. Go to a nursing home and hang out with some old folks. Teach them how to start a blog. Start a fundraiser. Don’t go spending a lot of money, just dedicate your time and your heart. You will find that the joy will come back to you ten-fold.

I just received this photo today. Here are some folks that have gotten off of their couch and are waving some flags on a corner showing their support for the troops. Service can come in so many different forms.


I have one last story to tell you. I have been trying to sell my TV so I could donate the proceeds to the Nazia fund. It turns out that last week Adam promised his TV to some of the Afghan cooks over at the clinic. One thing you never do over here is you never promise anything because the Afghans will never forget your promise. Yesterday Adam ended up trading in his TV for some jewelry. Today the cooks were asking him when he was going to bring in his TV. He ended up buying my TV for $30.00 and then pitching in an extra $20.00 to the Nazia fund. Isn’t he a great guy.

Keep reading, we are in the home stretch.

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