Afghanistan Triology

SUNNY KABUL PART 1 Hey Folks, As we started to make our descent into Kabul, the plane became quiet; everyone started to talk in a whisper. Honoring the no smoking sign but ignoring the seat belt warning, people stretched to look out the window for their first glimpse of home which for some had been years since they had last laid eyes on Afghanistan. People held hands, wiped tears and for some realized that this was the moment that they had dreamed of (or dreaded) for a long time. Choosing an aisle seat gave me an opportunity to observe this instead of looking out the window myself. Besides I have seen Afghanistan from the air before. It’s brown with mountains and the occasional splash of green. The two 20 year old men sitting next to me had lived in Hamburg Germany for the last 8 years. When I asked them if their parents would meet them in Kabul they said that they did not know where their parents were. You do the math. I have been a busy boy since I landed. I barely have had time to write in my journal either because of time constraints or because I was just too tired to write. Instead of starting 1st thing on the Mir Bacha Kot project, it was proposed that I head for Ghazni where I could check on last years projects 1st then return to Kabul where those who would be of assistance would be available to help. So the next day I headed for Ghazni by taxi ($100.00). The trip was similar to last years except...

Afghan Updates

Hey Folks, O.K. folks, Went back up stairs and found the floppy with my previous e-mails that could not be sent. Better late then never. This should be enough for now though please be aware that most of what I said about the projects have been changed. I will summarize those changes when I do the final edition back home. Peace. Jonathan $2 billion vs. $400 million. Ghazni Afghanistan Hey Folks, Sorry for the delay but that’s the way it goes when you can’t even phone your next door neighbour let alone send an e-mail. There are no internets cafes so I can not say for sure when or if I will get another letter off while here. It was a long trip, but I made it to Kabul on schedule. My 1st two nights were spent at the Intercontinental hotel. Great view of Kabul from there. My room had the added attraction of large bullet holes to give one a taste of the past ten years. I wonder how many rooms are liveable at the moment. In many ways Kabul was as I expected, hot & dusty, no electricity for most. Generators are key. It was cleaner then I thought which isn’t saying much. The main roads have been repaired to a degree that encourages accidents. There is an organized chaos on the streets, cars & trucks do a dance with bicycles and roundabouts that is always showing me new manoeuvres. The women still mostly wear Burkas; unfortunately it appears as if the liberating of women will take some time. It is the same in the countryside where...

Kosovo – Summary

Hey folks, This letter may get a little long, but it should be the last one for some time. Enjoy life and keep in touch. It has been over two years since I started planning my 1st trip to the Balkans. What started out as an idea about the size of a matchbox just kept getting larger. A lot has happened in that time, more than I could begin to describe in one entry. The best way to describe my experience is to say it was like being in a movie without a script, and so far has no ending. What made me go in the first place? Four trips later I still struggle with that question. As another volunteer once said, if you could answer That question clearly I would be a little skeptical. In brief it was part humanitarian, part adventure. The places I have been, the people I have met, and, most importantly, the people we have helped has verified that whatever the reason, I made the right choice. Before I go too far I should mention that even though I enjoy being at the center of attention, I do not enjoy being the center of attention, at least in this case. I feel uncomfortable accepting the praise and accolades I receive for the work we have done. I want to emphasize the word WE. None of what I/we have accomplished would have been possible without the help of literally a couple hundred people here in Vermont, the U.S., and the Balkans and all over the world. To list them all would be next to impossible,...

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Well where do I start? I do not have as much time as I would hope to get this off so I will try and be complete. I must warn you that it will be a lengthy one so save it for later if you have to. My trip over was fairly smooth except for in Vienna. The plane was full and waiting for one last passenger whose bags were already on the plane. When he / she did not show, they had to have each one of us disembark the plane and identify our luggage. This added an extra hour to the delay. YES! The next day Rand, Liriejta and I took a drive into the country to try and locate the Berisha family. This is the family whose last name I thought was “Fala”. Oh well, wrong name, right family. They were still at the same location as last summer. The children are well; mom said that she has not had to take one to the doctor in over a year. Not bad for seven children. They looked well, thin, but happy. They are attending a new school that was built in the village and all are getting good grades. They recognized Rand right off, yes they said, we remember you as they made a motion like throwing a Frisbee. Then they picked up 3 rocks to show him that they still could juggle. As Rand mentioned later to me it helped him realize that all that the Balkan Sunflowers do with children here is not in Vain. They know how to smile, laugh, hug, juggle, and...

Last Message from Kosova

It has been a hot and dusty week, the perspiration dries before you can absorb it in your clothes. I have been trying to keep hydrated; yesterday I was out in the sun and was in a car without A.C. so it was a tough day. I will try and give a run down of events that have been occurring this week. On Monday Rand and I had a social appointment with the director of Xhevedet Doda. We went to his house/flat to meet his family and look at his photo albums. He has had an interesting life. Several times he has been placed in Prison in 1969 he spent a month in jail; in 1974 he started a 5 year sentence. In 1981 another 2 months, 1989-3 months, and 1998 another 3 months. The exact reason was unclear because of translation but I can tell you that this man is of great character and in my opinion did nothing that would deserve such treatment. I suppose that you could say that about a number of people who have similar stories here in Kosova. Basically it was because they did not change with the new system fast enough. It is hard to deny basic Human Nature/ Rights to ask why about something. As Rand and I were walking out the door he asked us to wait one more minute and then disappeared downstairs to the basement. When he came back up he had 2 bottles of 1992 Kosova Cabernt Sauvignon. He informed us that it was a superb year and was a quality wine. We realized that this was...