Vacation has come and gone …

Well as of today I have done 185 days down, 180 to go – half way – WooHoo!!  But who’s counting?
I had my first R&R this month, and met husband for a 7 days alone until our kids showed up for a week together away from home.  So, a calm, relaxing week to re-acquaint myself with my husband, then a week of re-acquainting myself with the minor chaos of living with the family again.  These trips are important, and I will be doing another before I leave Afghanistan.  It’s hard to describe. but it feels somewhat surreal being in a hostile environment where you are working long hours, where your life is singularly focused to being back in the relative safe enviornement of home, surrounded by loved ones.   Which is why I think it is important to be able to have these opportunities to see eachother before the grand return.

Getting back was hard – the jet lag was brutal (9 and a half hours difference) and then the feeling that I hadn’t left.   I had been looking forward to this trip since I left back in June, so to come back from it and not have that on my mind to look forward to was a bit difficult.  But I’m back at it, and things are back to routine.
Work hasn’t changed much – though little by little I am seeing signs of progress and optimism.  As you probably know, the priority of effect in terms of battling the insurgency is in the south and east – and in those areas there are increasingly more stories about progress – the elderly, the town’s elders and others coming back because the security environment is better, farmers deciding to grow crops instead of poppies, kids going to school, more schools opening, and I think the most telling, insurgents that are willing to put down their weapons, and agreeing to be ‘normal’ members of society (in the press this is called reintegration).  Are the numbers of this happening big?  Well, no, but it is a start – we always said progress was going to be slow.  Just seeing it though is a positive indicator, and hearing things like that are making me more and more optimistic (what does this say about someone who is naturally an optimist?).
I have been involved in helping a local school get some school supplies – it was a wonderful moment for me to see the hundreds of students wanting to show me how they can read – children as young as 7 or 8.  With the high rates of literacy, it is likely their parents don’t read, or that they will surpass their parents ability soon.   Seeing these children was a highlight – and I have been invited back a few times, soon to be there to be present while bursaries are handed out to some girls for further education!

Finally, I understand that the documentary Sisters In Arms, was aired this past month in Canada.  I haven’t seen it, and may not until I get back home – but I hope it was well recevied and enjoyed.  Kudos to the team who put it together.

Well, a very early Merry Christmas to all of you who read this – I will be here for the holidays as those with young children spend them with their families.  Please keep our Canadian soldiers – and all those here in Afghanistan – in your thoughts and prayers especially during this holiday season.


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