Saturday, October 25, 2008

Emails from Bamyan, Afghanistan (Part XII)

G was supposed to be deployed to Panjao. So, it was my duty to brief G on the operational plan for Panjao. G spent about 3 days in Bamyan before deployment. Within those 3 days, I tried to explain and brief him about the plan which Raffaele and I had spent our energy and time on. The plan was a masterpiece and it was brilliant in the sense that we covered all details with the limited resources we have; meticulous coordination plan with copies of maps, sites, work schedule, etc. Thanks to Raffaele and Jaffar, I had one of the most fulfilling and satisfying work experiences in my life.

But you know what? G never once bothered or truly appreciated it. Because he was going to be in Bamyan for 3 days only, all he cared about was to visit the Buddhas and shopping at the bazaar. He kept changing the subject whenever I tried to talk to him and he never once asked me about "the plan".

It suddenly dawned on him that he wasn’t coming here for a holiday. He was in for a hard time. You see, this mission is not like in East Timor (beaches, sunny weather and freedom of movement). All he kept saying was, “This isn’t as easy as I thought.” I was deeply troubled and angry with him because I kept thinking that I had put my heart into this and done all the hard work and this man was just going to destroy it. As arrogant and blunt as it sounded, I was insulted by his presence.

Anyway, Uruzghan was then the only Province left without an international civic education officer. Collin, the PFC for Uruzghan, is an easy-going person as compared to Raffaele, who is a perfectionist in many ways. I was worried about civic education activities in Uruzghan. No educators had been recruited at all. So, I thought my next task would be Uruzghan.

By that time, the core staffs have been deployed and I asked Hari to allow me to visit Uruzghan for a week just to recruit people and start training. Gayatri, the PFC for Bamyan and also the acting Regional Coordinator at that time (Hari was sent to Mazar temporarily) denied permission for me to go.

In actual fact, because I’m staying in Bamyan, Gayatri is also my PFC. He kept saying that he needed me in Bamyan, etc. I got pissed off and told Hari that Bamyan is just about the easiest Province because it’s close to the Regional Center with all the communications network and accessibility of roads, etc. Bamyan started registration in phase I and had the experience already and we have our 2 most experienced national trainers in Bamyan. PFCs like Collin have nothing and as the coordinator for civic education, it was my responsibility to provide support to other Provinces as well.

Unfortunately, Gayatri has a huge influence on Hari and both were determined to keep me in Bamyan. I was exasperated and at one point decided to resign and leave. I told myself that I was not going to call myself a regional civic education coordinator if I am not allowed to do my job.

I called Kabul and asked them to issue a clear terms of reference for my role as the coordinator but they never did. I knew by then that all this coordinator thing is pure bullshit and I was going to be stuck in Bamyan forever.

I had sleepless nights and I threw myself into depression. Everyone else by then had left. I was stuck in Bamyan with Gayatri. I was bored because Bamyan lacks the challenge which the other Provinces face. So I lost focus.

Then one day, I just got mad especially when I saw how the new Regional Process and Training Trainer, Danny, got to go around supporting other teams in the Provinces. I was adamant that I wasn’t going to be held back like that.

I had a discussion with my coordinator in Kabul and explained my condition. I even wrote to Hari and disclosed my concern about my role in Bamyan. Eventually, I had the clearance to leave Bamyan. I was sent to Panjao and G re-deployed to Uruzghan. Phillip was sent back to Bamyan as the “coordinator” after I told him that the coordinator thing is all bullshit and he will be bored in Bamyan.

Well, he has reported that he is bored in Bamyan at the moment and just the way he likes it! be continued in Part XIII.....


  1. Ka Ea,

    You sound like one very brave lady. I am used to the comforts of home and would never survive where you are.

    Just starting to pick up on your story, will read more of on previous posts when I have time ...

  2. Thanks, Meiyen.

    But I am afraid of death!

    Will be glad to share comments with you.

  3. When does this email series gonna end? i'm losing interest in reading them. -_-

  4. Dear 888,

    unfortunately, 6 more. In the beginning, it was supposed to be a 10-part series but I decided to divide into more shorter parts. So, that's why it became so long.

    Don't give up! The interesting bits are coming...

  5. Ka Ea,

    I'm getting impatient too. I am one of those with a very short attention span ..

  6. Dear Meiyen,

    I usually post two articles at a time; one in general with new topics and shorter. The other one the series.

    So, if you got tired of the series, hopefully you won't with the shorter article.

    I am however, determined to post all the series..gotta finish what I started.

  7. I find your emails to be informative and interesting.Your descriptions makes the places alive to me. I look forward to a longer and not shorter series from you. After all, patience is a virtue. People nowadays don't seem to be interested in delving into the psyche of other people to deepen their insights of a different worldview.

  8. Dear Anonymous,

    thanks for your encouraging comments. I'm happy to know that you have enjoyed reading this series.

    I guess some like it, some don't. This is what I like, to get as many comments as possible just to know the type of readership I have.

    I hope you will continue to enjoy reading this.