Sunday, April 29, 2007

It *IS* better to give than receive

One of the wonderful things we have the opportunity to do here in Afghanistan is help the Afghan people. (Side note: people of Afghanistan are called Afghans and their money is called Afghanis so don't mix the two up).

I had the opportunity to visit a local school here in Kabul and see the beautiful children in class. We went on a humanitarian mission where we gave out chalkboards, pencils, markers, blankets, toys and candy. We visited a small school where they teach children ages 3 to 7. The instructors are all women and they run the school very well. The children were some of the most well behaved kids I have ever seen. When the teacher told them to sit they all sat on the carpeted floor and listened attentively. It is amazing how children all over the world are basically the same. They love to laugh and play and enjoy getting gifts and all of them love candy. We spent about an hour with the children and the teachers and Andy Bystrom who I am relieving actually taught the children a short lesson about right and left. It really was a rewarding experience to be able to make a difference for these kids and the school and they were all very appreciative. Camp Phoenix has many humanitarian missions and people here are very passionate about giving. Many of you have asked about what you can do to help. Well the soldiers, sailors and airmen here are well taken care of so the best thing you can do is send items for the Afghan people. If you would like to get involved, you may send items such as school supplies, toys, clothes and candy (not chocolate because it melts). If you send them to me I will collect them and make sure they are gathered up for the next humanitarian mission. You may send items to:

Patrick Wade
Navy ETT - Supply
Camp Phoenix
APO AE 09320

(Please note I added something to my address, Supply, to make sure it gets to me quickly)

I am still conducting my turnover with Andy which consists of many meetings and going through files and understanding what still needs to be done to train the people here in proper supply procedures. Basically, it is like any other job except you have interpreters here so we can speak to the ANA (Afghan National Army) and the civilian workers. I also work with the Army, Air Force and the Navy and for the most part we all get along and people are committed to getting the job done. There is still a lot of work to do in this country and we are all doing our part to ensure that Afghanistan can operate on its own some day.

Everyday, I travel in convoys to the different sites around Kabul looking at operations and learning more about how they run and who the people are. I also had the chance to enjoy some local cuisine at one of our warehouses. A local vendor provided a great meal of shishkabobs, rice, potatoes, meatballs and other fine foods. It was very tasty and I had no bad after effects, if you know what I mean. Of course if I do encounter side effects, I am armed with my Immodium. You see the water in Afghanistan is not fit for drinking, at least for Americans. Water is one of the critical things this country needs. They have a saying, "A little water, a little hope". Once again I am reminded, no water and a Navy guy, what is wrong with this picture? On the military bases we have have bottled water everywhere and people drink it by the gallons. It is amazing how fast you dehydrate here with the warm weather and dry climate.

I also had my first chance to drive over here. You have to be very careful while at the same time you must drive assertively because you do not want to stop as that increases your chances for trouble. The roads are dangerous and not just because of the other drivers. This is a war situation and you have to be ready for anything. Fortunately, in my short time, I have not encountered anything. There are many fellow military people who left Camp Phoenix this week to go down range to some pretty dangerous places. We all are hopeful that they will be successful in their missions, which includes coming home safely.

I realized I have not given you a Dari lesson lately so here is a brief lesson on some phrases we need to know. Baw ma byaw - Come with me. Estawda sho - Stop. Chop bawsh - no talking. Daowr bekho - turn around. Rooy ba del beft - lie on your stomach. Shor nakho - do not move. Maqawemat nako - do not resist. Wait a minute here. I just realized I think I have been "punked". I think someone gave me the lines to a cheap Afghan porn movie; lesson over.

On Friday the local bazaar came to town. This is the big bazaar with over 100 local vendors who sell their goods to the people here on Camp Phoenix. They are good negotiators so you must bring out your best bargaining skills. It looks a lot like a flee market in the states and they sell everything including carpets, blankets, jewelry, weapons, sunglasses, clothes and dust collecting trinkets. I bought a few things, but I need to learn more about the gems they have here such as rubys and sapphires before I buy any of them. I of course plan on putting the rubys on my slippers and see what happens. You never know...

Peace to you all,

As always, if you can't get enough of these updates, the previous ones are posted on my blog.

1 comment:

TX"sis-in-law" said...

I noticed that there hasn't been any comments posted on this wonderful blog of Patrick's! I know that a lot of people get his actual emails, but there are also a lot of people reading this that have had the blog address passed on to them.

Let's face's fascinating to read and see the pictures that have shown Pat's deployment so far.It gives me a greater respect for Pat and all the troops serving our country. And a big hug and pat on the back to Rebecca. Not only is she taking care of everything at home, but she is also maintaining this blog. WAY TO GO Becky.

Patrick, your writings have made me laugh, cringe and also shed a few tears. You are far from your own kids, Maddie and Thomas, but still looking out for kids in Afghanistan. I hope when you come back and are able to read your own blog, you will know how much it was enjoyed and appreciated.

Here's an idea to think about. If you are reading this blog, and are enjoying it, why not post a comment so that Pat and Becky can see it. It will be so cool for them to see how far this has traveled and how many people are reading it. It doesn't matter if they know you or not. Leave your first name (and last if you want) and your location. I know that Pat's email address list is huge, but I can guarantee that he's got a lot more people than that following this. I've passed it on to neighbors, friends, church and my side of the family in Colorado. Let's see how many of us are reading this.

Pat, my prayers are with you.

Becky, Hang in there, we love you.

God Bless our Troops!

Nancy Wade - Murphy, TX