2011 Year-end Letter Part 2

Hey folks 2011 Part two After a breakfast of Chai and Nan we thank our hosts and head for our vehicles. It is an hour to Doab and the trip is over before we know it. Upon our arrival the cell phones are turned on, the local cell tower had been out of commission for over a week. From what I could gather a couple of brave Taliban on motorcycle rode under the cover of darkness to destroy the dish that brought coverage to the area. It sounded like a good tactical move on their part. After all they were in the middle of a “war” and communication is vital. We stopped in Doab to refuel, clean our air filters and determine who was staying and who would continue North. I bought a couple sodas and a few packs of cookies for me and my guys. I had no idea where or for how long we would be gone. Better to have something to eat then wish you had something to eat is my thought. A lesson I learned years back one hungry day.   We travel North over the Navar lava domes, a series of 16 domes from another era. You can find them on Google earth. Doab is just south of the domes. It may sound romantic but it is a hard ride. The road is nothing more than the wear and tear of countless vehicles making a path on the same stretch of open plain. As we descend down the other side we put the truck in low gear. The breaks are good but better not...

2011 Year-end Letter

Hey Folks I have made it back to Kabul in one piece. For those of you who just want to know I am still alive and have ten fingers to type this letter, here is your proof. The Readers Digest version We contracted 4 schools, 23 classrooms for 40 thousand dollars… Was offered a helicopter ride from Bamiyan to Kabul due to security concerns, not mine, others, but a couple of days in Bamiyan instead of Kabul as well as a chopper through the Hindu Kush made it a no brainer. Digestion is well, but like the security here, that too can change. Peace   The Sunday Times version 2 AM Kabul My phone beeps, indicating I have a text message Good time to be heading out, have you heard that the Intercontinental Hotel is under attack? Suicide bombers and the whole nine yards. You take care and be careful, times are tough. Thanks Jean it gives new meaning to the term Ignorance is bliss.  Sometimes not knowing what is going on is for the best. I roll over and try and get a few more minutes of sleep. A Helicopter is buzzing overhead, and a loud boom are doing their best to keep me awake, it is too early for the morning call to prayer but the Mullahs at the mosques all over town start to sing whatever they sing over the loudspeakers when they are trying to cover the noise of another attack. Trying not to sound to cavalier but I did manage to get a few more minutes of sleep before the sun and my driver...

2010 Year-end Letter

Hey Folks. I have some great stuff to tell you so you might grab your reading glasses when you have time. For those who just want to know that I am safe, well this e-mail should confirm that.   The Short Version: We have contracted the construction of two 6 room schools, one 8 room school, and a 3 room addition in Qarnala.  In nine summers we have  contracted 14 schools and one library. The Mir Bacha Kot library is open and still handing out books in an area serving  a population of  ten thousand people. Look forward to doing the same again in 2011 I have a Facebook page compliments of Paul DAI Facebook Page   The Long Version: The flight from the states to Kabul went smoothly, I spent a night in NYC as well as Dubai where I had dinner with Hamida Gafour and her Husband. Hamida wrote a 4 page article last fall in The National on myself and DAI’s projects . The Kabul airport was a chaotic jam of passengers from three  737’s looking for bags on two small cramped  turnstyles.   After dropping my bags at the Mustaffa, I went around the corner to Chicken Street .After a warm embrace from my father Haji another summer in Afghanistan had officially begun. He is well as is his entire family. It is all up to Allah he says. We sat and drank tea caught up on another year gone by and sold a few carpets .   The 1st couple of days were spent touching base with friends mostly Afghan. Rare to find an...

2009 Year-end Letter

Hey Folks, 2009 was a great year for DAI  I  Hope to fit it all in four pages. The short version We built 26 classrooms in four villages for 36 thousand dollars. We now have built one library and 11 schools for a total of 66 classrooms in 8 years.  July 2009 was the 12th humanitarian trip in the past ten years.  Peace. Tea and a biscuit version. The flights to Kabul were uneventful which is always good. Fly Emirates whenever possible! The new Kabul International terminal was open and the process was smoother then before. It took less then an hour to depart the plane and check into the Mustaffa.   Brick by Brick, Pothole by pothole  The ride to the hotel put into detail the process it takes to rebuild even a small part of this dilapidated city not to mention what it will take to repair a country the size of Texas. Building and road construction abounds in Kabul. Slowly this city is starting to take shape but 5 million in a city for 2 will always lead to overcrowding and complaints that not enough is being done at the local level. The new powerline from Uzbekistan should enable the local media to have a wider audience now to lodge complaints like westerners do. Go on T.V. and complain that nothing is getting done.   Before heading to visit last summers schools I had made plans to travel to Herat and visit Camp Stone Arrangements had been made to meet with General Zawari (Ali Jan) of the Afghan Army stationed in Herat. Ali Jan is from...

Ghazni and Back

Hey Folks, 1st the short version; I made it here safe and sound. It’s hot, dry and dusty. Everyone says hello and thank you. The 2nd version I knew when my flight to DC was canceled and everyone was sent home for the evening that even the best laid plans are put to the test. Nothing different this time around After 32 hours of puddle jumping in 747’s Inshallah (Ariana) airlines served its version of breakfast. A hard roll w/ butter and apricot jam some canned fruit cocktail in a plastic cup, and soft brie and feta cheese with fairly fresh Danish. My strategy when traveling is to eat everything set in front of you, so with little hesitation the meal was inhaled. I was reminded of why I treat myself to a few good meals before I leave after I opened the foil packet to observe A 4 hour old omelet. No worries about weight gain here. The Afghan diet is back! The search for Haji.. Those of you who were privy to my e-mails last year will remember the importance of Haji for my success and subsequently the bond that ensued. Before I left last year I helped Haji put together a resume. It had the usual imagination needed to put oneself in the proper light. When recording his job history we had almost six years where his major accomplishment was surviving the Taliban occupation. I thought that a bit of humor might separate him from the pack. Hire this guy he speaks English and has a sense of humor! Last night with a driver we went...