Children of Dara Karj

Dara Kharj, Afghanistan - Another trip outside the wire today. This time, we tested our MRAPS in the snow-filled mountains.
Dara Kharj, Afghanistan –
Another trip outside the wire today. This time, we tested our MRAPS in the snow-filled mountains.

More fun in the snow today, as our team ventured outside the wire again to check on the Dara Kharj road.

This trip took us into the mountains, even further than we went a few days ago. It was the first time we really drove our MRAPs (armored vehicles) in this much snow, so I was interested to see how this behemoth of a vehicle would handle. (As we drove around, we munched on some delicious chocolate-covered macadamia nut caramel clusters that were donated by some well-wishers back home.) We made it around okay.

Check out pics from today’s trip on the Afghanistan Pics page.

It seems that as the weather gets colder, the Afghan contractors don’t seem to be working on their projects as much. Of course, we don’t expect them to continue working in the snow, but there are still aspects of construction that are not weather-dependent. We try to remind them that simply because it snows, that’s not an excuse to quit work altogether. I tell them that if they don’t keep working, I’ll broadcast over the radio that their company is defaulting on their promise to finish the project in time for the community. (Sometimes, shame is the best motivator!) We’ll see if my plan works …

We stopped at a small village at the base of the mountains to talk with a local village elder. As we talked with him, the usual crowd of people gathered around.

Lots of children gathered around me, hoping I would give them some candy (like I usually do.) They were disappointed though, because I’ve greatly reduced the amount of freebies I give out ever since the Shokhi incident. (Anytime freebies are given out, it presents a security situation.)

Seeing the kids reminds me of Taj, who appears to have grown a lot since I left him nine months ago. I can’t imagine Taj going through what I see Afghan children experiencing. Taj is a fun-loving, loud, smart, spoiled little munchkin of a boy, whose only worry is what game he is going to play next.

But Afghan children WORK.

I don’t mean they take out the trash or help mommie do the dishes … Afghan children are loading donkeys and leading them to market ON FOOT. Afghan children are carrying oversized bags of goods ON THEIR HEADS, walking them from one place to another. Afghan children are cracking the whip on the cow that is plowing the farmland.

Some Afghan children are carrying guns.

I’m not as religious as I should be, but I certainly feel blessed that Taj doesn’t have to endure the life of an Afghan child.

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