A Remarkable Perspective – Part 4


In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving

Mr. Jonathan Hoffman of Direct Aid International continues…

Mir Bacha Koot.

I stopped by the high school for a quick hello and check on the library. Much to my surprise the books and furniture in my building has been moved to the high school next door. The library had been turned into office space for the local department of education official. I was told two versions of why this had happened. One was that they wanted the books closer to the students. I did not buy that one seeing as it was a Community Library!

The second explanation was a little more palatable. The principle of the high school said that they were remodeling office space at the governors building and the office would move back across the street and the library put back together shortly. I have been trying to contact the governor by phone with little luck so far. Hopefully it can all be worked out while I am here in Afghanistan.

Another piece of news that concerns me is that Gimal has not received his eye operation yet and has been forced to retire because of his eye sight. I gave the governor half of the money needed last summer with the village supposedly coming up with the rest. This too I hope is a minor delay. At least that’s what they have told me. Either way I am not sure of the long term success of the library. As long as I keep coming back and check on the project they will be forced to keep their promise. But when the day comes that I decide not to return, well I just don’t know what will become of the project.

When dealing with MBK I have found it best to have an unannounced visit to the project so I can see what the status is without them having time to prepare for my visit. This has proved to be the best way to keep them honest. The look on the principal’s face when I walked in his office was priceless. They must be wondering when this guy is going to stop coming and check on the project

I have come to expect these sorts of problems over the years. I have learned that it takes time to make a project run on its own as well as keep the village accountable. Here they are used to an NGO coming, giving money, starting a project and then never doing follow-ups on its project. This happens all over the country as they start a project and then move on to the next one. It would be easier and less damaging to my organizations reputation if I did not do follow-ups but in all honesty I feel that it’s my responsibility to make sure that all projects are supported and kept running for as long as I am here.

The one positive since last summer is that they did put a metal roof on the building keeping the snow melt and rain from damaging the inside of the building.

So I’m in Kabul at the moment getting ready for my next and final trip this year to Nawur. It will be a busy one for several reasons. First I still have not visited every village I have a school in. Yakhshi has close to 120 boys and girls grades one through six using our humble 3 room school. Then they go to the USAID funded school down the road for grades 7-12.
I still have to visit Bahtu and check on its status. I was informed by Qassimi that they did not finish the school construction last fall due to security. They still are working on completing the roof. I will visit Garmob as well but am not sure of having the time to visit Qarnala. I am coming close to being maxed out due to the time constraints and the number of projects I have going. Qarnala is one school I am convinced is running on its own and could for go a year without a visit.

I also will be traveling with Naeem Randhawa from Dallas Texas who when not contracting as an IT consultant for Bearing Point has an independent film production company called Just Say Go Productions. Naeem and an extra camera man will travel with me this trip to film and document our experiences during the trip. We hope to produce a one and a half hour documentary documenting our trip together as well as show a part of Afghanistan that has never been seen before. I failed to mention that we also hired a cameraman to make the 1st trip with me which has some incredible footage of the trip and my experience. Aziz did a wonderful job of filming and interpreting at the same time. We are not exactly sure what will become of the footage but it is our hope to have something to show for it in the next 6-12 months for a large viewing audience.

We will be gone for 7-10 days depending on security and filming the trip.

I’m almost Finished!

OK.

The next part of the letter comes with some reservations.

I hesitate to tell you because some of you will use this information to worry even more. Before I share my secret please understand that I will continue to travel here for the time being regardless of your concerns or the ever decreasing lack of security. It is my hope that taking an alternative route will ease the security issues but probably not your concerns for my safety.

To be continued…
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