A visit to rural Afghanistan is never easy. And this was probably the most grueling, travel wise, for Sohail Abdullah and I; Sohail’s 2nd and my 29th, between September 29 and October 9. We landed into Kabul with a fierce war going on as Kundus was temporarily overrun and bombs exploded in Kabul like Diwali Day in Mumbai.
The thin mountain air played havoc on our noses, rupturing nasal veins that rendered tissue paper use useless with clumps of congealed blood; I had to discard 3 handkerchiefs. The endless driving over nonexistent or dangerous mountain passes for an average of 10 hours every day was sheer torture. I felt I was let out of a badly aligned rotating concrete-mixer every time the day came to an end. My biggest problem was lack of sleep, averaging no more than 5 hours a day, if lucky. And nonexistent bathrooms. Afghans in rural Afghanistan keep a fair distance from this necessity, constructing them as far away from their homes as possible; preferably somewhere near their animal sheds. Allah forbid we have to go in the middle of the night. Sheer torture. Appropriate clothing, a good torch, a lota full of water and a long walk over unfriendly terrain, accompanied hopefully by a local. Just in case. The toilet has a flimsy curtain for a door, a slippery-slope floor and a hole in the ground where 3 months of other people’s kaka is gelling; we deposit ours looking away from the hole and trying not to breathe, especially through the nose. No wonder there are never long queues outside bathrooms in rural Afghanistan.
Notwithstanding all the danger, discomfort, troubles and hassles, the trip was memorial, as usual. CAI’s work in Afghanistan is nothing short of Yadullah, hands of Allah. No other words to describe this miracle. I woke up early one day with a splitting headache because the ‘pillow’ I was given was harder than oak wood. I was about to swallow a Motrin when I realized the folly of my whining and self-pity. I was in probably the remotest part of this earth, here to open a makeshift medical clinic for about 20,000 destitute people who have never seen a medical practitioner before. Ever! And all I had was a bad headache. I still took the medication, but very, very thankfully.
I got back to Sanford in time to hear Sheykh Viney Khethia’s second Muharram lecture. The guy is amazing – his conversion from Hinduism, his conviction regarding his new faith and the commitment to Imam Mahdi (A). Wow! Now only if he’ll work on his time management, which is stinking awful. 75-minute lectures are too long, and wrong, even with all that goodness in him.
Sohail has put the following video / photo Blog from the Afghan trip. A school opening (16th in Afghanistan), opening of 2 newly built medical clinics, commissioning of the 4th medical clinic, desk distribution to a poor school and sheep distribution to widows, this was a packed trip.
I strongly urge you to go through the following Photoblog; it’ll the second best thing than to be actually there.