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.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, i can't believe it's soon time to leave! And I bet it is with mixed feelings - you'd like to be able to see some closure and build on the relationships you've established... but of course, there are some folks who can't wait to see you in Texas!