Saturday, May 31, 2008

The new digs

So, just like freshman year back at SJU, here is my nice little 9x9 room for the next 12 months. Don't you love it? Looking to get a little carpeting on the floor for color. But I'm thinking wall posters. Anyone got any left over from college? My wife thinks it's depressing and my mom thinks I need to add some color. Any ideas on solving both these problems?

And yes, I do have camo, but I never wear it.

Some more pictures from Afghanistan

So, earlier this week, we visited a district (county) in the northern part of Panjshir called Khenj. We meet with the District Minister of Education (think county superintendent) and visited some potential sites for a new school that a local village wanted to have built. Currently, the students were attending school in two tents (two other tents still needed tables and chairs to be constructed) and the school director's house. Currently the students go to school in shifts (3 shifts a day, 2 for boys, one for girls). About 300 students are enrolled. Below are some of the pictures from the visit.

The school director's house where a class is going on. This just breaks my heart.

So cute, I had to put them up here

The ol' kabab stand.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Starting to Settle In

Well, I've been at my PRT for about three weeks now and it's definitely been a great time. I've seen a lot and been around to the all seven districts in Panjshir. It's a beautiful country with many beautiful people, but it's definitely an isolated area that has seen 30 years of war and destruction. I've seen so much in the last three weeks, that's its tough to put it all down. I'll try to update this more often and give more details about what is going on here. But for now, suffice it to say that I've been doing a lot of meeting and greeting and work with some local community leaders to better understand the various needs in the area and how I can work with these leaders to help them solve their own situations.

But as for Panjshir, it's a great place to be and work. The security here is great, there aren't bombs going off every night and I have a general freedom of movement. That is very helpful for my work and I've been able to do a lot of things that other USAID people in other provinces can't do.

Panjshir was created three years ago and carved out a neighboring province. It's the third smallest province at 6645 square kilometers and est. 130,000 population divided into seven districts (counties). It has an elevation of between 5500 - 9500+ feet. Needless to say it is very mountainous with lots of rock. Reminds people of New Mexico with the mountains and red/purple colored rocks.

The Panjshir river runs up the valley and provides the majority of irrigation, drinking and power (hydro) for the province. We are very blessed up here to have so much water compared to a lot of other regions, but there is very little flat land that isn't in a floodplain and being an agriculturally based society, people here aren't able to do much beyond sustenance farming.

Well, that's a basic run down. I'll get everyone more later. Enjoy yourself.

Bringing Masha with me on a trip (our wedding photo)

Someone say ROOF!!!

Shaking Hands with the Provincial Governor

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dispatch from the field

I would be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of all of Jeremy's adventures. I'm very proud of him, but a little green around the edges. Here are a few photos he sent today. I'll let him explain them later.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sheep, wool and love

Last Saturday, Debbie and I drove out to the fairgrounds in West Friendship, MD, to attend the annual Sheep and Wool Show. It's one of the biggest fiber festivals in the country, and is to knitters the equivalent of the Trekkies' Star Trek convention. We had been looking forward to it for awhile, but were not prepared for the sheer number of other people who had also, apparently, been looking forward to it. This is a small part of the parking lot:

We checked out the alpaca ...

And the sheep ...

And the lambs.

And the lamb - yum, gyros!

And ribbon fries ...

And, of course yarn. And more yarn. Beautiful yarn.

It was just the best day.

The End.