Mistress Carrie's Blog
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AAF to Afghanistan: Mistress Carrie & Gen. Hammond visit the Qarah Bagh scho
This was one of the most emotional days of the trip. We had to drive about an hour outside of Kabul, into the country. There was a pretty big group of us, because when a general goes out to check up on things, it's a big deal! Along the way we passed evidence of the difficulties that still face Afghanistan. Vehicles that fell victim to IED's are everywhere!
When we arrived at the school, the Afghan soldiers were already there, as were the construction supervisors, translators, tribal elders, and a few kids. We took a tour of the construction, and Gen. Hammond pointed out a few ventalation issues that remained in the construction. His concern was that the kids wouldn't be warm enough during the winter months. They also looked at the new well, and discussed the time table. Then it was time to meet the kids, who had already started to gather outside, as soon as they saw the 'American trucks' pull in.
The US soldiers that escorted me, had prepared boxes of toys, pens, chalk, and candy for us to give out. What surprised me, was that the Afghan soldiers, the little boys, and the little girls had to be put into separate groups. First, the soldiers were given some soccer balls to keep them from 'intervening' while we played with the kids. Soldiers in Afghanistan have 'on average' a 3rd grade education, which is part of the recruiting problem. The more people grow up uneducated in Afghanistan, the longer it is going to take us to get out, and leave the country to stand on it's own two feet. The most important part, is that we leave them as a ally, because we cannot afford to have Afghanistan raise another generation that is desperate, uneducated, and hating America! We all know what comes from that! So, once the soldiers were taken care of, the male US soldiers, started tending to the little boys, and LT. Sullivan and I were left to handle the 35-40 little girls who had bravely arrived. They are used to being ignored, or worse. So everyone thought that if American women spent some time with them, that they would come out of their shells a little bit. They sat quietly at first, organized in a row, and shy. I started handing out pieces of colored chalk, so they could write and draw. These girls will all be allowed to attend this school when it opens, since that is a requirement of the US military. All schools are open to all students in the community, even the girls! I wore gloves to hide my long fingernails, since my hair was enough for them to adjust to! They thought is was CRAZY! We handed out the pens, and then got to the good stuff... LIFESAVERS! They love them! Everyone got something, and they were so grateful for the smallest gift!
As we finished the line of little girls, the boys started to run over to us, and they were much more aggressive. They grabbed and demanded. At one point I was surrounded by kids, and the girls were starting to back away, giving in to the boys aggression! This made me VERY upset! I saw one boy, about 10 years old, hit a 5 year old girl, so that he could take what I had just given her... I SNAPPED! I grabbed the kid by the shoulder, and screamed at him. Even though he didn't understand what I was saying, he could tell what my message was. he looked at me, like "who is this woman telling me what to do"? and as you can imagine, that did not go over well with me! I grabbed the chalk, and candy from his hand, and pushed him out of the way so that I could return it to it's rightful owner. She looked at me with confusion and gratitude in her eyes. I don't think any woman had ever stood up to a 'man' in front of her before, and certainly not FOR her. I rubbed her hair, and face and tried to get her to understand that I cared. She took the candy and chalk, and ran for the safety of the larger group of girls. The boy, still dumbfounded, walked away glaring at me. He learned a valuable lesson that day! DO NOT piss off purple haired bitches from Boston! :)
As we were getting ready to leave, I approached the US soldiers, and talked to them about the incident. I asked if it could have a negative impact on community relations, and for that I was sorry. They said "Don't be sorry"! One soldier said "That little girl will never forget the day a woman stood up for her, and that little boy, the tribal elders, and the Afghan soldiers, will never forget seeing a tough woman stand up to a man like that... even if he was only 10" but, in Afghanistan nothing is easy... They also told me, that it was possible that the little girl will be beaten because of what I did. I cried the entire ride back to the base, thinking of that little girl. Progress is slow in Afghanistan for many reasons, but seeing that school, and those children gives me hope that someday things will get better!