Yet another month completed – this makes 7, with 5 remaining – but who’s counting?!
The month of December seemed to go by quickly, and it’s hard to believe that it’s 2011 already. I can remember the craziness of starting the new millennium – and here we are, 11 years later.
This month has seen it’s share of challenges here in Afghanistan – Kabul had a few incidents, albeit ineffective ones – and there continues to be insurgent activitiy. We lost another soldier in December, and that always brings us back from a complacency that tends to set in when things are going well to yet another reality check. Cpl Martin wasn’t even 25, yet this was his third operational tour – one in Haiti and this, his second to Afghanistan. When you think of it, I am surrounded by so many young men and women here – military members the age of my own children – and when all the Canadians get together here in Kabul for our own ceremony to honor those who have died, it is generally my honour to say a few words. Though it’s hard and never gets easier – nor should it – I can’t help but wonder what I would do or feel if I was the parent, the peer or the leader of the fallen. Sobering thoughts – and to be honest, I am glad my children are safe at home.
I still maintain that progress is happening. We continue to see insurgents laying down their weapons to reintegrate within their families and communities, village elders and others coming back to their homes because the security has improved, schools and shops opening, and remaining open, freedom of movement where there wasn’t any before and in many other areas. This certainly doesn’t mean drastically reduced violence throughout the country – but it does give us hope that we are heading in that direction.
The beginning of Dec saw me visit the School of Hope once again, this time to be present at something of an awards ceremony. The ceremony itself was quite traditional, filled with prayer, speeches by school officials, government officials and religious elders, music and food – however, one big exception was that every award (which comprised a certificate and 200 Euros) was given to a female student. The rationale of course to motivate them – and their parents – to keep them in school, but also to motivate other girls to do the same. Interestingly, the money for the awards came from 7 different Rotary Clubs in the Rome area of Italy. The Rotary clubs were even represented at the ceremony and got to meet with the girls afterwards. I am constantly amazed to learn where our Rotarians are engaged around the globe – and this was no exception. 10,000 Euros for 50 female students.
Christmas and new years for me were spend connecting with family through skype. We were so fortunate to have more than an hour of uninterrupted skype Christmas morning so I could partake in the gift opening with Ian and the kids and in the gift exchange for my side of the family. You know, when I was deployed to Bosnia for a year, we only had the odd phone call and hand written letters – this is much better , I couldn’t imagine doing this without skype and email! And I was really blessed in that so many of my family and friends sent me packages of home-made goodies, chocolates, coffee, treats, gifts, Christmas trees (yup that’s right! Both my husband and sister-in-law sent me small Christmas trees with ornaments!), and a whole host of other things. I have to admit, I’m pretty popular with all these edible goodies!
The good news of course is that I am well over the half way mark, and I will be taking my second R&R period sometime in Jan. I will be going home for this one – spending time with Ian and the kids.
Well – as always, I would ask for you to continue to keep our Canadian military members in your thoughts and prayers.