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

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I Am My Brother's Keeper

Now my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. We were taught under the old ethic that man's business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man. Thousands of years ago the question was asked; ''Am I my brother's keeper?'' That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.

Yes, I am my brother's keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death.
-Eugene V. Debs 1908 speech

I visited Nazia. Let me give you an update. I walked into the room with an interpreter and introduced myself. She immediately covered her face with her head scarf and turned away. She was extremely shy. I must have been there for 1 and ½ hours and she never once even looked at me. She had a large dressing over her nose and forehead. Her reaction reminded me of a 3 or 4 year-old. I spoke with the doctor and he told me that all girls are this way in rural areas. It was not just from the traumatic event. Girls do not venture outside of their homes very much and if they do they wear a full body burqa.

I asked her how she was doing but she did not answer. I read her my letter and a number of other well wishes from back home. Dr. Davis gave me a package with a number of activities to fill the day like knitting and drawing kits. I tried to open one so we could work on it together but she was not interested. I spoke with her roommate for a while. She said that she normally is more talkative. She just gets this way around males.

She said that her husband had been trying to contact her. He wants his money, or the dowry, back that was used to pay for her which was $8,000. If he doesn’t get it back then he will not divorce her. She said that she also got a visit from her husband’s brother. He was very nice. When her husband called he did not let him speak to her.

Nazia’s parents still do not know what happened to her. I asked her what she wanted to do in the future and she said that she wants to be with her parents who are in Pakistan. I asked if there was a family that was willing to take her in America would she want to go. She said no. She just wants to be with her parents.

Having met Nazia and finally having somewhat of a conversation with her, it struck me how sad the whole situation really was. She was truly a victim in every sense of the word. Her whole life she was deprived of an education. She never learned to read or write. She was basically treated like property, sold by her parents for $8,000, because they needed the money. She was given to a man that was a former Taliban member who had killed his previous wife in a similar manner. The roommate said that he, “Cut her into pieces” 3 days after they got married. Her roommate also said that he tied up Nazia and beat her until he was tired. He then would take a nap and wake up and beat her some more. She said that he actually wanted to cut out her eyes and cut off her lips but that he did not get a chance to.

After he did this barbaric act he never even brought her to the hospital. Somehow the police came to his door and he escaped out the back after he said that he wanted to get his coat.

What most likely will happen in a month or two, after more surgeries, is she will fly out to Pakistan to be with her parents. Again, the issue of the dowry still has to be resolved. Before I left I asked if she wanted any of her money that we raised to buy anything, seeing as she really did not have any possessions. I asked the doctor if it was ok if I gave her $20.00 or $40.00 to buy something. He said that it was not a good idea because she would not know what to do with it. It would be like giving money to a 4 year-old. She has never made an independent decision in her life and the money would probably be taken from her.

The bright moment of the day came when a representative from the Office Women’s Affairs came to visit her. Unfortunately, she came when I had to leave. She said that she was doing an investigation. She will be in good hands now that they are involved. I spoke with Dr. Davis and he said that they are very trustworthy and will look out for her best interest. I got her phone number. I will try and call her tomorrow. She will be a good point of contact for further information on Nazia.

Thanks for reading.


Nyn said...

This is a sad report, indeed. The light in it is with the Women's Ministry. I was thinking as I read how she was so unresponsive to you, and only wanted to go to her parents (who sold her into this in the first place), that she needs a female mentor to be with her and meet her where she is. It is very likely that her experiences before marriage weren't that much better than after marriage. Traumas at an earlier age than 16 could keep her mentally at the age when they occured. It is so, so sad. You aren't talking about just one girl's shyness, you're talking about a socially learned behavior that's ingrained in the culture there. What kind of power does the husband have there in trying to get a dowry back or give a divorce if he is still charged with these horrible crimes? Does he still have the right to demand his money back?

I think immediate severing of any contact or control he has over her is paramount. I only wish I could give you the $ right this second. I hope there is possibly a westernized Afghan woman there who can come to Nazia and help her gain confidence, will, and independence. I would hope this might be the intro to bring her out. It's perfectly understandable for her to be withdrawn, especially with men, and to still want to go to her parents. Children who have been through horrible, horrible abuse still love their parents in any culture. I'm not saying her parents have, but the life she had with them is probably seen as a sanctuary in comparison to her recent time with her husband. Asking her to consider America is probably more frightening than service in Pakistan to her parents, right now at least. You are a wonderful man to be so concerned, and so outspoken. I am in awe of the situation, and the outpouring of help and support. Please don't let the sadness of the situation get you down. Like you said earlier in previous posts - one person really can make a difference. You are making a difference with each positive action. Thank you so much.

Nyn said...

By the way, I do not see your ChipIn widget on this page any longer. Is it functioning properly.

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