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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Have now aquired the nick name the ninja bunny. Wasn't too long before the guys came up with a suitable name that represented both my fascination with tactical gear and my clear allegiance to small furry animals.Building up my Dari vocabularly I asked what the word for Rabbit was. Khar Gosh the guys told me, "The literal translation is donkey's ear". So now I am Ninja Khar Gosh - The Afghan Rabbit.

I had my first intimate moment with Kabul mud yesterday evening when exiting a villa in shar-e-naw. I had successfully negotiated the rather posh rain cover ramp thingy when the slick soles of my converse baseball boots caused me to slither. In the headlights of the taxi and in front of the driver and the chaukador, in silhouette I went arse over tit (in what I thought was a rather graceful manner) right into a large "mud" stacked puddle. Luckily, I was completely fine but now cunningly covered with a large stripe of swampy sogginess all up one side. My brand new, rather expensive,Canada Goose down jacket was finally christene! I giggled, jumped into the taxi and opted not to say anything to the taxi driver about the pool of mud I was bringing with me. We went the long way round back to home and when we got there I had to borrow four dollars from Rob as only had a $50 USD note. Getting home I copped a bollocking from the guys for taking a taxi in the first place. Then the Afghan staff also gave me hard time, they were worried that I might get kidnapped. I actually found it quite difficult to keep my temper as in general there's a tendency for them to treat women as if they are delicate creatures, stupid and incompetent. You can imagine how I bristled!

.....I hear Midge doing his miaowing thing and have to rush out of the ops room with a plate of cat food to go and feed our rather grubby and demanding compund pet. He was clearly at one time someones house cat but now he just does his own thing, big and loud, he makes his presence known.

Later I am in trouble with Abdul coz I've been using the fine china to feed the cat...

Work is progressing with the shipments of medical equipment from the UK to hospitals here in Afghanistan. This humanitarian aid project is part of doing something to directly address the lack of pretty much anything in the government run hospitals here. The network of people both here and in the UK and USA is building and the US military are being a great help. My key UK and US contacts are mobilising the assistance of The Knights Templar and The Knights of Malta. So fingers crossed we can get something going here.

Here in the clinic I get to hear many tales. E is an American who told me about the tragic case of two of his Afghan colleagues; The recent suicide attack on the 15th Dec outside the Heetal Hotel involved the explosion of a large black van parked just outside. Ehsamudin Salim and Rohullah Shams were driving into the hotel and their vehicle was caught in the blast. Rohullah died on impact - 'fragmented' was the term used to describe what happened to him. Ehsamudin sustained greater than 50% burns; taken initially to the Afghan Military Hospital he was then transferred to Esteqlal, the official burns hospitals here. In bad shape, over the next few days septicaemia set in. Facilities at Esteqlal are limited. Bagram Air Force Base might have offered a higher level of care but Afghan nationals are not eligible to go there, (neither are the majority of non military expats eligible to there). Ehsamudin was without many options and he died on 24th December, he was 27 years old and was married with one child. Ehsamudin had been a friend and colleague of E's for over two years and E was understandably upset by Ehsamudin's death. E felt that not enough had been done to ensure that this injured man received the best available treatment. The major objection raised by E was the double standard that is often applied; if it's an expat then spend the money, get them out, get them treated. If it's a local let them live or die with what is here locally. This is a very difficult ethical problem. The economical implications of having full insurance capability for all members of staff would be potentially prohibitively expensive for a company operating here. So they opt to have a tiered system in which other nationalities feature higher or lower on the scale of importance. At the top are the 1st world nations: the USA, UK, members of the European Union, then there are all the imported staff: the Philippines, India, Nepal. In some large companies here the eating and accommodation are segregated... not expat versus local nationals but 1st world versus the others. Different food, different standards, different expectations. There are some sick things going on here, differentiation based on nationality, the passport you hold; an indicator of your worth. Like everywhere in the world money talks and 1st world status confers all sorts of privileges upon a person. I think about Mahatma Gandhi's protest against 1st 2nd and 3rd class status based on ethnicity, sadly it exists here in tangible form.

1 comment:

  1. It is true Karen. Alas I have seen simillar tiered system depending on the passport you hold when I was deployed in Iraq. The sad thing was that ppl from the third world had paid herfty commission to the middlemen for lowly paid jobs in the war zone. We however tried to give them the best medical care as much as we could.