Friday, January 29, 2010

Full moon over Afghanistan

I came around the corner this evening and saw the full moon above the snowcapped mountains and had to take some pictures. Makes the last couple days of rain and all the mud ALMOST worth it.


For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A cold, dreary day in Afghanistan

I want so much to post something new and exciting but the blogger muse seems to have left me. It is a cold, dreary day here in Afghanistan, better suited for a warm fire, good book and a bottomless cup of coffee. But, the mission goes on—a little like the postal service!

Since I last wrote, so much has happened. We have all relocated to our base up in the province and are well established here. It was tough at first. Initially, we had just a French dining hall, and the food was very different. I was given the choice of liver or tongue one night, and frog legs were on the menu another night. At least, there is always good cheese, and that makes it worth the walk. We now have three American cooks, so mealtime is looking much better.

Our living accommodations are not bad. We live in tents but, honestly, I like my space here better than what I had at Bagram.
It is brighter and is more pleasant. Not that I spend much time there; we work 14- to 16-hour days most of the time.

Our main focus right now is getting ready for our replacement's arrival in a month. We are working hard to make their orientation to the job and the province as smooth as possible. The more work we do now, the easier it will be once they arrive. Our goal is to get on the plane knowing they can do missions the next day, and that will take lots of effort on all our parts.

I did sneak out of the office over the weekend to deliver more supplies for our Strong Food program. In case you don't remember, that is a pediatric supplement for malnutrition. It's made from almonds, sugar, dried milk, oil and vitamins. I so enjoy the time we spend out with the medical providers. They are excited to show us the progress they are making, the success they are seeing. So far, we have served this supplement to more than 800 children in our province, and we have another six months of supplies ready to go.

The medical director was excited to show us some "new" equipment he had received. Apparently, an organization had donated dialysis machines, an OR anesthesia machine, several fetal non-stress test monitors and a pediatric ventilator. The staff has no idea how to use any of it. It underscores one of the issues here. People want so much to help but, often, what happens is not what the Afghans need. This facility doesn't need fancy machines, but more trained staff, medicines to treat the people and opportunities to teach disease prevention with improved sanitation and clean water. That is the challenge for my replacement—how to get those basic things accomplished.

In all honesty, the nine months we are here is almost too short; we are just getting comfortable with where we want to go next, and it is time to leave. But, our families are ready to see us and we miss the "real" world. I will keep you posted on our transition back to it over these next two months.


For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pictures of recent adventures

Jingle trucks pass one of our trucks along the road outside Kabul. Every day, these trucks fill this road, often causing huge traffic backups. We got stopped for a little bit, until some Afghan policemen came by and helped clear a lane for us.

Local women wash clothes in the river below Naghlu Dam in S. TaGab.

Waiting to start a joint mission with the French in the Alasay Valley. We visited a clinic and a mosque project. We drove up the night before and spent the night sleeping in an Afghan National Army outpost, a very surreal experience. The Afghan soldiers were respectful and kept their distance, but wouldn't stop staring at the other female on the convoy and me. They see very few American soldiers and even fewer American women. They took our pictures, which made me a little nervous.


For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

I am still here

Hello, friends! I am so sorry I have been delinquent in posting to my blog. Many of you have written to check on the team and me. We really are doing fine. It has been a busy six weeks since I last posted. Between missions, the holidays and some changes in our senior leadership, it has gone amazingly fast! I promise more in the next week.

So much has happened, I don't know where to start! I confess I have started several postings but work pulled me away. Thank you for checking and for keeping the team and me in your thoughts and prayers.


For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.