Here are some numbers for you...
1 in 4 children will die in Afghanistan before the age of 5.
the average life span in Afghanistan is 48
A M-ATV up armored vehicle costs approximately $450,000
A new school costs $150,000
Digging a well to supply a village with fresh water costs $5,000
The war in Afghanistan costs $9.8 BILLION dollars a month
The average education of an Afghan soldier is the 3rd grade.
These numbers surprised me, for several reasons, especially the mortality rate of the children here. I'm not sure why I was surprised, after driving through the country and witnessing the things that I did.
Now I am not claiming to have all of the answers... As a matter of fact, I don't have ANY of the answers! But, I have seen many people comment on facebook saying that we should pull all of our troops out of Afghanistan, and just drop bombs... After looking into the eyes of this countries people, I can't imagine feeling that way. The children have such an innocence about them, and they're eyes almost beg for help. We saw a woman laying in the road so that she could stop traffic and get her kids to beg to the people in the stopped cars. We saw people buying raw meat on the side of the road from 'butchers' who were slicing in *100 degree heat, with no refrigeration or sanitary facilities. People just stop on the sidewalk and squat down to go to the bathroom. I've seen people do that while drunk, in an alley after a Sox game, but never like this. In this day and age, how can people still live like this? This country is such a contradition.
How can a military convoy get passed in a rotary by a guy on a donkey, talking on a cell phone?
How can people punish their infants by burning them, and then drop them off at the front gate of a military base knowing that the US soldiers will get the child medical care? Only to have the children returned home after?
How can grown men, who have sworn to protect their country, steal supplies from children that they receive from US troops?
How can women walk on gravel roads, with 2 small children, wearing full burkas, carrying firewood, and wearing HEELS?
In the last 10 years, the # of children in school in Afghanistan has increased 500% and the number of girls in school has tripled. I heard that part of the recruiting issue with the Afghan National Army is the fact that they are illiterate, and most only have a 3rd grade education. So before they can join, they have to learn to read and write. Imagine our country run by 3rd graders... Oh wait a minute, sometimes it feels like it is!
The only thing that makes me feel better about the financial drain of this war, is that education and healthy water is cheaper than trucks and guns... Maybe someday the nation of Afghanistan will have different problems, and maybe they won't, only they can decide their own path. But, after seeing what I saw, I can't imagine pulling our troops out of there and leaving that nation prey for the Taliban. They would never have a chance.
I still think about those kids every day, and I can't imagine how our troops will be coming home after a year in that country, witnessing what they have. If you think our country has problems, take a trip to Afghanistan...