I went “outside the wire” again today. (Check out some pics on the Afghanistan Pics page.) The district we visited, Mahmood Raqi, has been relatively safe lately, but I was still a bit nervous. But today, we visited the office of the Governor of Kapisa Province, Governor Abu Bakr. Of course, his compound is a bit more elaborate than the common Afghan community. He had plenty of security, including high fences and bodyguards. So, I relaxed when we got there … Because inside the Governor’s place is about as safe as we could get!
We ate lunch with the Governor, and had some informal conversation. Although I’ve been in the ‘stan for a few weeks now, it was my first meal outside the wire, and my first time eating something cooked by an Afghan. We were served lamb and rice, with tomatoes and watermelon. Initially, I worried that I might get sick if I ate it, but protocol dictates that it is rude to not eat in such situations, so I followed along and gobbled it up. It was delicious, and me NOT getting sick later was a plus!
Afterward, I went to see some of our team members who were in a meeting with the Director of Women’s affairs. (Of course, women’s affairs is a big issue in the ‘stan.) I didn’t stay in the room during the meeting, but I took a few pics and left them to their business. When the meeting was done, we helped the Director pass out some humanitarian assistance in the form of clothes and shoes. I interviewed the Director about her work and photographed the women receiving the goods. All of this was happening inside the Governor’s compound.
Outside, a small crowd developed, aware of our presence and hopeful to receive some of the goodies. Although we wanted to help as many people as possible, we did our part to let the Director run the show. It made me feel a bit weird, as it appeared some people did not receive anything. But, when approached by Afghans asking for supplies, we were prepared to tell them to go ask the Director. It was important that SHE be the one who decides who receives the donations, and it was important that SHE be seen as the one giving the goods away, not us.
“Linking Afghans to their Government.”