Monday 31 March 2014 by Alison Wishart. No comments
Opinion, views and commentary, Personal Stories, Afghanistan, Kabul, Easter, recycling

Day 20: Easter without eggs

It's Easter Sunday and I am feeling deprived because I have NO chocolate eggs to eat. When we went to the European DFAC (Dining FACility) for brekky, I consoled myself with a croissant dipped in hot chocolate.

We have been SO busy in Kabul, that there hasn't been any time to go to the gym. But I have had to wear my bone-crushing body armour every day, which is like walking around carrying 23 kg of weights at altitude's higher than Perisher, Smiggins or Blue Cow in the Snowy Mountains. So I think I'll have another croissant.

"The French Quarter" (where the French forces sleep) at Kabul

I have finally found a recycling project in Afghanistan! This one warms your heart. The blue plastic lids from the umpteen water bottles which get consumed in Kabul are collected, sent to the clever people in Turkey, and turned into wheelchairs! Now I can have another bottle of water to wash down the croissant(s).

recycling water bottle caps - photo by Steven Bullard (G2)
keep collecting those lids!

Today I interviewed a young soldier who is training members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) in logistics. He is helping them order, dispatch and keep track of the sort of goods you need to keep an army ticking: weapons, boots, vehicle parts, etc. This is a pretty challenging job in a country with low literacy levels in Dari (see day 19) and when the goods arrive labelled in English! Teaching people how to use a computer and move from a paper-based to an electronic inventory is even more challenging. Fortunately, this soldier has a fairly laid-back, relaxed attitude which helps him get along with the Afghans and do his job. He is much better suited to it than his American counterparts who want things done NOW and done THEIR way, because it is the RIGHT way.

I've had to be inventive when it comes to finding places and furniture to do the audio interviews. Note innovative table made of water bottles below:

Interviewing Tod Peronchik at the Central Supply Depot, Kabul.

The G-force joke that I keep inviting different men into my bedroom, because sometimes that is the only quiet place for an interview!

My "recording studio"/bedroom in Kabul - note dual purpose rubbish bin

But G3 has been sleeping with three under-age women each night: Tinkerbell, Snow White and Cinderella. I've been sleeping with Barbie and G2 with Dora the Explorer. All the doona covers are cartoon or Disney characters.  Is this telling us that war is child's play?

Going to bed with Barbie

Twelve months ago I went to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) with the Australian War Memorial. I was working on an oral history-photographic project. The core part of the project was interviewing and photographing 19 currently serving members of the ADF - from the army, navy and airforce - before, during and after their deployment in 2013 to the MEAO.  In another 12 months time, you should be able to see the results of this work in an exhibition which will travel around Australia.

These blog posts were written while I was in the MEAO but were not uploaded to the AWM website at that time.

I am planning to upload one blog post each day, exactly 12 months on from the actual day I was on deployment. We left Canberra on 12 March 2013.