Yesterday was an altogether wholesome and satisfying day. It always feels good to give or provide services to those with so little. At the end of a day it is a very good feeling when I can say that Afghanistan is better off because of what we did today.
We went to an Afghan prison about 2 hours west of here in the town of Shebergan. The American civilian mentors who work with the staff there invited us to give immunizations to the inmates and staff. This is one of the three prisons who benefited from the literally thousands of vitamins my parents sent a few months ago( thanks folks, they were well utilised). Although health care is free in Afghanistan according to their constitution, access is sometimes a problem. Our trip there was uneventful and actually comfortable(IE not in an MRAP). The staff were very gracious in welcoming us to their site. I learned some things after our last escapade doing this type of volunteer mission in downtown Mazar. In short order the equipment was unloaded and we met the medic there at the prison. We showed him the various immunizations we brought, how to load them in syringes, how to store them and so forth.
With the help of the prison mentor staff, we started immunizing the women incarcerated there. After a short orientation time of observation and teaching, our Afghan medic friend gave immunizations with us.We also immunized their children, since they stay with the mother during her time in prison. Based on previous experiences we decided this was the best population to start with so that they did not get "forgotten". The women were all pleasant and for the most part very cooperative. Their area was new and clean, although it did lack heat. The children were cute and captivating. Thankfully I remembered to bring some Shiryni (sweets or candy) to give them for after they braved their vaccines. We left the medic enough supplies of all types to immunize the rest of the population and staff. I think this was a good call, since rather than doing the whole thing ourselves, we taught, coached and provided the means for the staff to complete the task themselves.
The Commander of the prison led the way and was one of the first staff members to get vaccinated after the women and children were completed. He also provided some naan, kebaabs and chai with grand and legendary Afghan hospitality. On our way out we visited the clinic on the site. It was built by either USAID or one of the many NGO's. It was fairly new, clean and functional. I was truly impressed that the medic had health records on all his inmates. He had a good supply of medications and a well organized 4 bed observation area. I was very happy to see the clinic in such good hands.
Overall it was a very fulfilling mission. The staff were kind and respectful to the inmates. Some of the children present were from the staff. The kids just all played together. Some of our team had a hard time telling guard from prisoner at times. They got along together as a small village might. Even though it rained all day yesterday, after an experience like this my spirits could not be dampened.
This morning I reluctantly got up to exercise. As I was leaving the gym I noted the presence of atmospheric white fluffy stuff. Sometime early this morning the rain had turned to snow. I also noticed that the large hole near the corner of my hut has grown considerably and how has a small brother a few feet away. After some questioning of the resident KBR staff it appears our huts may have been built on top of a cesspool or septic leach field. There is also a new crack in the floor. Hmm.