Afghans are famous for their hospitality. Guests are served the best food, they are offered the best seat in the room, and unconditional acceptance. This may be hard to believe given the terrible massacre of U.N. staff that occurred yesterday in Mazar i Sharif. But, it's important to understand that the barbarians who committed these heinous acts are not representing the Afghan people, at least not the kind and generous Afghans I have encountered in the past week.
The amazing hospitality encountered here has been from the Afghans as well as those in the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Military. I am part of a delegation invited by the U.S. State Department representing the Hayward Ghazni Sister City relationship. I have spent the past week in Kabul and Ghazni province. This trip was organized by an amazing group of Afghans and Americans to showcase our people to people outreach, and how two communities worlds apart can extend a hand of friendship to each other.
Over six years ago, I co-founded the Hayward Ghazni sister city relationship so you can imagine how thrilled I was to be recognized for the work we have been doing. But what really motivated me to go on this trip was to finally see the schools we started four years ago, meet the girls and boys we educate and talk to the women in our literacy classes.
Our hosts, the State Department representative and their military counterparts, were professional, hospitable and went out of their way to accomodate our needs. In Kabul we travel with embassy armored cars and in Ghazni with 50 pound bullet proof vests and helmets. We hardly blend in with the locals.
In our four short days in Ghanzi we had 20 to 25 military escorts protecting us at any given moment. At times I wondered why my life was more important than theirs? Why four people are dedicated to keeping me safe. I was humbled as I looked at the faces of the young men and women who were risking their lives to protect ours and how they bravely face danger everyday. I have newfound respect for all the servicemen and women who are working out here to help the Afghan people.
I was also blown away with all the reconstruction projects that we never hear about such as: agriculture training, computer classes for girls, medical clinics, medicine for the poor, district employee capacity building training, and many more amazing U.S.-led programs.
So, I am pleased to deliver the news that a lot of good work is taking place and there are many Afghans and Americans working 24/7 to bring peace to the people of Afghanistan. As I sit in my room during a lock down for all visitors due threats of violent riots in Kabul, I hope that peace will arrive soon. Here are a few photos I snapped with my phone to give you a bird's eye view of my experiences on this trip.
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