Friday, July 13, 2012

Political Maneuvering

The Afghan political scene has been very active since my last post.  I wrote then about Mohammad Ehsan's visit to the district and the tumultuous shura that greeted him.  Since then, the Afghans have been very busy.  A new shura chairman has been appointed from outside, the old chairman has been assigned a specific task on rooting out a problem, and there may be some more shakeups pending.  As mentioned last time, a large portion of shura members had quit coming to the meetings because they didn't like the way things were going.  Now they're back.

I've talked with members on both sides of the fence.  It's been really interesting.  One side (just to give them a name, let's call them "Republicans") says that the other side are crooks, that they've been robbing from the people, and they're only out to line their pockets.  They're really happy with the new chairman and think that now they can make progress.  The other side (we'll call them "Democrats") say that the Republicans are proven criminals, they're only interested in power, and they're out to line their own pockets.  They're really happy with the new chairman, too, and think that now they can make progress.

I'm really glad that I'm not the new chairman.

The good thing, as I mentioned, is that both sides are back at the table.  Our shuras had been down to maybe ten guys, basically the same ones each week.  But this week, over 30 showed up, and the tone of discussion was pretty civilized.

Maybe these guys can teach our politicians a few things ...

Meanwhile, we have a variety of programs ongoing.  One of them is giving a lot of seed and fertilizer to district farmers.  The intent is to give them legal crops as an alternative to growing poppy.  Personally, I don't think this will make a bit of difference, but I had no say in the decision-making, so now we're just trying to make it work as best we can.

So here's one of the trucks that brought the seeds and fertilizer to our agricultural center.  The NGO handling the distribution has sorted all these bags out and divided them into "packets", one for each farmer.  They've given out over a hundred so far and are steadily working through the rest.

Meanwhile, I've continued to do artwork whenever possible.  Sometimes it's in the shuras, where I can draw the people from life, hopefully without their knowing it.  For the pastel drawings, though, I have to work from photos.  Here are a couple of them:

Khogiani Elder
Pastel on paper, 13"x12" 

Afghan Girl
Pastel on paper, 13"x12"

Today is Friday, our "weekend", so I'm catching up on a few things.  This blog, for one; but also routine things like cleaning my hooch and going over my notes and lists of things to do from the past week.  It's nice to have a slow morning and not have to rush, though. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi: I consider it such a priviledge to read and follow your blog. I picked you up in Iraq and was glad you got a job, post Iraq, in Afghanistan. I traveled through there in the early '70's so saw it before it was so destroyed by the USSR and aftermath. Your art truly captures the essense of the people and I understand the difficulty you have with programs and all. Afghan culture is postively different from ours. I wish Ruth Benedict types were plentiful and listened to. Maybe there are such people advising on how to understand a totally different culture but am unaware of the military taking advantage of them. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your ramblings and sharing them with us. I know I have commented about this before but I can't really stress it enough. Take care of yourself. lorraine