Friday, 24 October 2008
As we waited for our Paktek flight, the German PRT arrived at the airport to see off one of their planes. Great big hostile armour protected vehicles with guns mounted aloft ,stood just ahead of us. The men wore army uniforms and bullet proof vests and were heavily armed and I suddenly thought how bizarre it all is....there were we, totally unprotected and caught up in this little episode.
War and Peace - the tale of our visit to Afghanistan....so much love has been in evidence—the school kids, the teachers, the communities, drivers and guards we have known for years and of course, Gul Noor......then the murder of the girl in Kabul, the suicide bomb in Kunduz, the shooting dead by the Taliban of the education officer in Wardak.
The flight home brings us through the clearest skies and the view of the Hindu Kush is magnificent and spell binding until we are hit by turbulence just short of Kabul and in our little 8 seater I feel like a butterfly in a washing machine and grip the seat for dear life!
On arrival in Kabul, we took the vehicles to Camp Kaia—the military base at the airport. There we waited for our contact, sitting in our cars, surrounded by barbed wire and watch towers and high security. He came out and there were all our cricket bags and computers—fantastic! Unbelievably generous of them to have flown them out and we would never have succeeded without them.
Back in Kabul,we are guests of Rory Stewart’s at The Turquoise Mountain. The fort is lit by candles outside and looks idyllic. In total contrast with the North, we walk through the door,to be greeted by Rory and a large gin and tonic...which goes straight to my head after my 5 essential days of detox. The place is buzzing with interesting people. David and Lucy Tang have just flown in with Rory,General Riley is there and members of TMF.
For dinner, we climb up into the tower of the old fort and sit on the floor looking out on the lights of Kabul city. David Tang tells us wonderful tales of famous people and then goes on to discuss the market crash and the whole evening seems surreal. Rory is generous with his time and looks after us beautifully. This is a world of contrasts.
The Afghan team collected the cricket bag this morning and made plans for the training camps.the rest of the cricket gear is heading off to the schools. The computers from St Catherines are heading North to Sari Sang and I am in transit once again in Dubai.
When I was in Kabul airport, I sat next to a delightful black American helicopter mechanic,who hadn’t seen his 4 children since his last visit home in May. He has been in Afghanistan all that time.....yet he hasn’t met a single Afghan. He is shocked that I have been out in the field without armed security. He asks me a few questions about the Afghans....are they all really cruel to their women, are they all homosexual and other similar questions---he has heard that this is how all Afghans are ....and I just think, no wonder there is so much misunderstanding and hatred and ignorance out here when perceptions are so blinkered.
Now about to head out of this hideous transit and board my plane home ....another inspiring visit, no money in the bank account but so much to do! In Shah Allah, we will find funding as we always(somehow)have and keep going with our work ...