Afghanistan: Reflections from the Front Lines

Author: Matt Bloom

A feast for the eyes and heart. During my visit to the beautiful mountain region of Bamyan we visited a small village that is the location of one of CRS's education programs. This is amazing work and it was wonderful to hear from the leaders of the village about how important this program is for the entire village. The men and women we spoke with had great pride about their children and shared with great passion about how education would bring new hope and dignity to their children and to the village. The project has even inspired the parents to learn to read. The women have formed reading groups to study books their children are learning so that mothers can read, for the first time ever, with their daughters and sons at home. The men are also engaged, learning to read books on growing crops and winter gardening. We were told that a favorite among the men was a book on becoming a better public speaker! These education projects are impacting the entire village, opening up to them a new world of knowledge and information. We shared a feast with the villagers, one that included homemade bread, homegrown potatoes, and for the meat eaters among our group, a special treat of roasted chicken, fresh from the pen.

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As we returned to the CRS compound, we went through the usual screening as we reentered the secure enclosure. Even vehicles and passengers that are well-known must be checked. The mirror pictured here is used to look for possible dangerous items that might have been placed on the vehicle. It was one of many reminders for me of the difficult contexts in which the CRS staff work, and yet they carry on, continuing their great work in the midst of such--at least for me--daunting challenges. It is a privilege to be with them, learning more about how we might support them better in the life-changing work they do.