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KBI/Tzu Mission to Afghanistan and Cambodia

With Coordination provided by the AFPC - Asia Pacific Initiative

July 24, 2002
Kabul, Afghanistan

Greetings:

Today should be our last day in Kabul, unless we return here on our way out. For the past two days, we have been distributing some of the humanitarian aid that we brought in to Kabul, and making arrangements for moving our remaining three trucks to Bamiyan. We leave for Bamiyan tomorrow.

July 23, 2002:

This was a day of aid distributions and meetings.

In the morning we went to the school supported by FAR (Friends for Afghan Redevelopment). Mr. Sher Dil Qaderi, its Director, led a presentation of several sorts of aid to the school. In the containers and trucks that Knightsbridge brought to Afghanistan were 38 boxes of school supplies for this school, provided by FAR. These school supplies were presented. In our last update, we described a program where FAR is building desks for the students. A presentation of about 50 desks was made this morning. These desks had been provided by donations through FAR and their friends.

During the presentation, Knightsbridge made a donation of $1300 for 100 student positions in their Lucky 13 program. Each position includes a desk, school supplies, and partial funding for a school nurse and medicines. This 100- desk donation should be sufficient, when added to the several hundred provided by FAR, to complete the desk requirement for this facility, and be able to go on to the next school.

The entire event was televised, and broadcast on Afghan TV.

Following the presentation at the school, we went to one of the two International Orphan Care facilities (the one here in Kabul, the other one is in Jalalabad) and made clothing presentations to the children there. Since our delivery of the supplies yesterday, the staff at the orphanage had sorted through the clothes and prepared packages for each child that represented his/her size and sex. When we arrived, everything was set up for the presentations to the children.

After this presentation, we went to the roof, where they have their cooking and eating areas set up (under shelter), and participated in the lunch serving.

The rest of the day was spent on meetings:

In the afternoon, we met with a representative of a firm that is pursuing solar power as a solution to development here in Afghanistan, much like Knightsbridge is doing. Although they were managing their affairs as a for-profit business, we had much in common and shared a lot of information on what we had already found, and what we thought would be the best ways to approach solar power here in Afghanistan. It is likely that we will work together in some capacity in the future.

All through the day, the largest issue we were dealing with was freeing our 3 trucks to leave Kabul for Bamiyan. The truckers have been here more than long enough, and we need to get them on the road. However, it has been strongly recommended to us that they have "papers" from a government official assuring them of safe passage. We also needed to meet with someone who could tell us how to direct the trucks once they arrive in Bamiyan so that the off-loading procedure could begin prior to our arrival, if a safe storage location was assured by the government.

A major government function was in process all morning and into the afternoon, so it was difficult to contact anyone. Finally, Sher Dil and Quduos were able to get us a meeting with Karim Khalili. Mr. Khalili is an advisor to President Karzai. (He would be like a vice president in the US.) At one point, we had a meeting arranged with President Karzai as well, but he was on his way out of the country for a meeting in the US.

We finally got to see Mr. Khalili around 4:00 p.m. and met with him for over an hour. We received a hand written letter for the truckers' safe passage, and a letter for them to give to the commander in Bamiyan so that a secure unloading area and accommodations would be arranged. Mr. Khalili also gave us a letter to take with us the following day when we drive to Bamiyan to assure safe passage, although he assured us that this was not really required.

Mr. Khalili had worked with Ed Artis in the past on several missions including trips into Bamiyan with Tzu Chi, and remembered him well. He was very glad to see us and was particularly glad we were taking aid to Bamiyan, since this area has been neglected by all aid organizations to date. (We are taking the first trucks with aid from Uzbekistan into the Bamiyan that anyone knows of.)

Once we received the documents, we had to find a place that could photocopy them, and we made extra copies for the truckers and ourselves. We met with the truckers and explained why this took all day, but we were now secure that they would be able to pass un-hassled to Bamiyan. They will leave at daybreak on Wednesday.

During our discussions with Quduos and Sher Dil, we learned that one of the commanders we had lived with in October on our first mission here following 9-11, Abdul Rashid, was working as a Police Chief in one of the districts here in Kabul. We found him and surprised him. It was quite a reunion, and we all had dinner this evening.

July 24, 2002:

This has become a catch-up day. We have a lot of paperwork to do based on our USAID grant proposal for the Philippines. We received word that our request for increase from$60,000 to $110,000 (to purchase US made drugs instead of European manufactured drugs) was approved, and they need another round of paperwork. We also need to write the Purchase Orders to the pharmaceutical company to get the drugs moving towards the Philippines. We have to ask for an extension of the date for delivery of the medicines since they were originally scheduled for arrival in the Philippines on July 31st, but with the grant award delay, we need another two weeks for this. We wrote all of these documents and sent them out from a make-shift office we set up in an abandoned room in the "hotel" we are staying at.

Later this morning, we took a trip to the US Embassy to try to set up a meeting with one of the officials with USAID later this afternoon. You cannot call them for an appointment. Luckily, Sher Dil knew some of the guys at the front gate, and through his prompting, we were able to arrange an impromptu meeting on the grounds of the Embassy, between some of the check points. This saved us quite a bit of time going through all of the searches and checks.

The gentleman we met with was very helpful, and provided us with an outline of the procedures for participating in the USAID programs in Afghanistan, as well as giving us a list of contacts to work with.

At dinner, we met with one of the directors of Management Sciences for Health (MSH), and their field co-ordinator. MSH has received a contract from USAID to provide immediate, emergency, health care services throughout Afghanistan. One of their goals is to use as many local and/or smaller NGO's as they can. They were very helpful in explaining to us all of the details of their program, what types of projects are fundable, deadlines for submissions, and times for performance. It was encouraging to meet with MSH, because they made it clear that they are interested in not only working with local NGO's, but where these local NGO's require assistance, MSH is working to shore up their capabilities. We hope that there will be some common ground where Knightsbridge can work together with MSH in the near future.

After dinner we met with the Deputy Minister of Public Health, and learned all about what they consider to be their urgent needs. During the meeting, Ed provided a lot of ideas for the Ministry of Health to consider in being able to more quickly address the medical needs of the citizens in remote areas. One of the ideas Ed presented was to partner with different doctor groups and provide in-field experience for the doctors, possibly gaining CEU's, and having an adventure at the same time. We were able to establish a good line of communication with the Deputy Minister that will definitely prove useful in the near future.

This marks the end of this 4-day leg in Kabul. It is late, and tomorrow, we leave for Bamiyan at 4:30 a.m.

Good night.

Photographs attached to this update include:

  • 3947: Ed, Sher Dil, & Quduos presenting FAR chairs to Sharinow school
  • 3951: School supplies (donated by FAR, delivered by Knightsbridge) being presented.
  • 3956: Handing out clothing to IOC Orphanage students.
  • 3962: Ed in serving line at IOC orphanage
  • 3986: Ed, Walt, Sher-Dil, and Quduos with Vice President Khalili
  • 3984: Ed, Walt and Sher-Dil talking with Vice President Khalili

Thanks again for your continued support.

Walt Ratterman, with Ed Artis and Adrian Belic
Knightsbridge International
Kabul, Afghanistan
July 24, 2002

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