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KBI/Tzu Mission to Afghanistan and Cambodia

With Coordination provided by the AFPC - Asia Pacific Initiative

July 22, 2002
Kabul, Afghanistan

Greetings:

Since our last update on July 20, we broke camp in Aibak, moved to Kabul, found our contacts there, and started working.

July 21, 2002

It was our plan to pick up camp in Aibak, and move to Kabul, starting first thing this morning. We had asked around and received estimated driving times of anywhere between 5 and 9 hours. (It took 9). The driver we had arranged showed up Saturday night late and informed us that he had something else he had to attend to on Sunday morning, and he was prepared to drive us at 1:00 p.m. We decided to arrange our own transportation, and told him to catch up with us in Kabul in a day or so.

We had three body guards. We sent one with the truck convoy. We were not getting along with one of the remaining two, so we let him go back home, and took the one guard with us on Sunday morning leaving just before 8:00 as planned.

The drive took the full 9 hours, and we arrived in Kabul around 5:00. We did not stop. What a drive!! We went from over 100 degrees F to where we were looking for jackets (which we did not have) because we were so high up in the mountains.

We were continuously passing evidence of years of battles. It would not be an exaggeration to say that we passed over 100 blown up tanks within 20 feet of the road. Most of the major river crossing bridges had been blown up, and we used temporary military type bridges. We went through the famous Salang tunnel at the top of the mountain pass. It was this tunnel that many cars and trucks were trapped inside of this past winter by avalanches on either side, with many drivers and passengers freezing to death. In many areas, there were so many destroyed tanks, that road building crews had gathered them together to use them as foundations for embankments, retaining walls, and bridges.

When we arrived in Kabul, we met with Sher Dil, our friend from FAR - Friends for Afghan Redevelopment. Sher Dil was instrumental in making everything work for the next couple of days, and I am sure for much time to come here in Afghanistan.

We met with the drivers of our seven trucks, and made arrangements to unload them tomorrow morning. One of the trucks had blown a head gasket coming over the mountains and one was experiencing severe overheating. These were two of the three trucks we have scheduled to go to Bamiyan. Something will have to be worked out here. Not sure what just yet, but there are always lots of options. The mechanical difficulties, along with the drivers' wanting to get home, and not make the drive to Bamiyan and back first, made it look like we would be hiring other trucks to move the goods to Bamiyan.

July 22, 2002

We had several things on our plate this morning to accomplish today. We needed to resolve the issue with the broken down trucks and the Bamiyan, the trucks for Kabul need to be offloaded, we have a Sun Oven to be delivered to Mercy Corps, somewhere in Kabul (needing a crane or a forklift), and we had to make arrangements to get to Bamiyan.

Also, we want to see about meeting with USAID, and some ministers here in Kabul regarding some projects we would like to partner with in Bamiyan dealing with Medical clinics and solar power projects in Bamiyan.

After a lot of discussions with the truckers and the trucking company in Tashkent, we all decided that the trucks would still go to Bamiyan. The contents of the inoperative trucks would be loaded onto two of the trucks that are not working, and the good ones would go to Bamiyan. This is not as simple as it sounds, because the drivers are owner/operators, and their paperwork assigns a driver, a truck registration, and a destination. We did what we could to correct the documents, had the contents transferred, and set up to send three healthy trucks to Bamiyan as soon as we get clearance from the government authorities tomorrow or the next day.

FAR has "adopted" a school in the middle of Kabul to help. This school has been overlooked by most of the large NGO's because it is small and does not provide a large opportunity for grant money. There are a total of 600 students attending this school, in two shifts per day. Sher Dil's group at FAR has put together several programs to help this school. In one program, they are building desks for the kids. (Right now, they stand or sit on the floor.) Besides just taking donations for the purchase of the desks (at $9 each), they have a "Lucky 13" Program where people or organizations can donate funds in multiples of $13. This $13 essentially purchases a slot for a child to attend school. Besides the $9 desk, it pays for the needed pencils, and papers, and provides funds toward a school nurse and medical supplies.

The school is in need of many things besides desks and school supplies. It needs a roof, a well, latrines, and chalkboards.

We met with the director of International Orphan Care here in Kabul, and made arrangement to unload the two trucks with supplies for three orphanages. Once these arrangements were made, we took the trucks to IOC, and unloaded the contents into the three respective piles. The boxes were already color coded for each orphanage, so the unloading went fairly quickly. Tomorrow, we will start the distribution in the orphanages of these supplies. By then it was 2:00.

Next we found Mercy Corps and went to deliver the Sun Oven there. They did not have a fork lift or a crane. They went to try and hire one at the bazaar, but after a while, we had to get moving. We took the truck to the air base, where Anita from Mercy Corps knew some of the guys there. They agreed to offload the sunoven with their large fork lift and transport it to Mercy Corps.

We spent what was left of the day getting some meetings going for tomorrow.

Photograhs with this update include:

  • 3881: Road to Kabul, showing blown up bridge and tanks.
  • 3902: Shop building chairs for school supported by FAR
  • 3910: Classroom in school where first batch of chairs are going.
  • 0774: Ed and Walt unloading boxes for the orphanages
  • 3919: KBI crew with Orphanage and FAR directors by boxes.
  • 3940: Sun Oven for Mercy Corps, unloaded by German soldiers.

Thanks again for your continued support.

Walt Ratterman, with Ed Artis and Adrian Belic
Knightsbridge International
Kabul, Afghanistan
July 22, 2002

www.kbi.org

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