Project with Czech Army - Afghanistan
Dear boys, girls and all the friends of the Centipede,
Firstly, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Cpt. Lada Kovářoví and I am a member of the 7th unit of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Logar, Afghanistan. Some of you who visit Centipede’s website often might remember my diary from the years 2009 and 2010. Therefore, I would like to say hello to my “old friends” from Spálené Poříčí, Kutná Hora, Kladno Kanice and all the others. To you, who read my words for the first time, I would like to give a brief introduction on what to expect during the next couple of months.
Centipede has been cooperating with the Czech soldiers for more than ten years. During last couple of years, it has been mostly cooperation in Afghanistan. In 2009, YOU, Centipede friends sent to Afghanistan more than 50 000,- USD that helped in local schools and hospitals. In May 2010, during the celebrations in Juliska, 20 000,- USD cheque was handed over by you. For this money, lots of textbooks were bought. A well with drinking water will be built too.
Centipede has sent us (well in a fact to the Afghan children) couple of tones of crayons, notebooks and other school things. This year, you helped a lot with the collection of used first aid car kits;more than 10 000 of them were collected. Our task now will be to hand over everything you have sent to the Afghan children. As you cannot be here, I will write about everything we do here in my diary. As usually, I am not alone here. Tomáš (the head of the CIMIC team), Peter, Jirka and Honza are here with me. Greeting and thanks to all of you go also from our commander, Col. Miroslav Hlaváč.
Allow me to thank once again for all your efforts. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to write to my e-mail address: email@example.com. This one is only for you.
April 2, 2011
Those who read the first part of the Centipede diary that I wrote in 2009, will remember the Kumaidan school. This is a school where we delivered textbooks, teaching materials and a library. As we crated wonderful relation with the director of the school and her deputy, we delivered here four sewing machines and fabric so that the girls could learn how to sew and find a job when they grow up. Mrs. Běla has received one of the dresses at the celebration in Juliska, some of you may remember.
I was a bit scared returning to the school. It was always a pleasure for me to come to the school and I did not want to be disappointed by the girls. Well, it all went well. I received a very warm welcome;it looked like a meeting of old friends. The director and all the other teachers looked very happy to see each other again. When I asked if they used the sewing machines, the director took keys out of her pocket and headed to the room where the machines were locked. She apologized a lot that one of the machines was a bit broken. THIS did not matter at all as I could see that the machines are really used. As the school year begun only a week ago, the machines were barricaded with textbooks that were handed out to the children. The machines were a bit dusty, but ready to work. The director informed us that approximately 30 girls use the machines and also that some more machines could be used. A new building is being built, so there would be even more space. I have to say I was really happy to hear that and I needed to call Mrs. Běla immediately when we returned from the patrol. I have become realistic during the time I was doing my job here and there and I know that not everything works out in the end according to what was planned. The situation in Iraq or here in Afghanistan is totally different from the one we know in Europe. And even if we hope we are doing the right thing, not every time the outcome is what we expected it would be. I am sure that if we continue here, it will be a good thing for everybody.
March 28, 2011
The civil experts of the Czech team went to Khoshi district in order to control the on-going projects. That is why went with them to see how the people in the school that we visited last week did with the trees. I must say we were extremely pleased. The trees are planted and one can see that the trees were taken care of as they were just watered.
Moreover, as our agricultural expert told us, the trees were planted as it is supposed to be done (they have space around so that they can grow further). Let us hope that everything will go in a similar way in other schools too.
Today, there was one more patrol – to Gowmaran village. Reconstruction of a well should start soon here. This project is financed from the collection of the Centipede children that was handed over to us at Juliska. The weather got better and it stopped freezing. Frost was the main reason why we waited with the start of the project until spring. Although we set the price to 3 000 USD, the supplier changed his mind and tried to convince us to pay more. However, Peter, the chief of this project, is not a freshman in Afghanistan. That is why he strongly insisted on the price settled… and he was correct. In two days, the supplier called us and confirmed he would do the job. OK, let’s go to work !!
March 23, 2011
We went to two more schools that have been included to the operation Rainbow. This time, it was boys school Jahdi in Kolangar and girls school Bibi Fatima Zahra in the same village. The children are not at school yet, but the preparations for new school year are running already. In the Jahdi school we even met the local Minister of Education Mr. Jafar. We also had a chance to introduce our plans and could meet the director of the Department of Health of the Ministry of Education. He was really impressed with your project of first aid car kits. We agreed that health care in Afghanistan is not accessible to everybody and the basics of first aid can save health or even lives to many children. More details of the project will be discussed during the meeting with the Minister this week. At the end, we planted first of the trees, next trees will plant the children.
The other school that we visited was Bibi Fatima Zahra – school for girls. It was not our first time here either. We handed over the trees and other teaching material to the teacher and discussed our next visit.
March 22, 2011
Today, we went with Tomáš and our soldiers to a patrol to Khoshi region, to visit the school for boys Bagh Yarak and the school for girls Hassan Basri. These are the first two schools that we chose for the cooperation with Centipede in operation Rainbow. Though we know that the children have sill holidays, the teachers were expecting us already. We decided to surprise the children with small Centipede gift and we also wanted to talk a bit with them.
Quite often, the trees are planted at the occasion of the New Year. That is why we bought 100 small apple trees that will be distributed to local schools. This is the first step in our search for the Rainbow. Within the year that I have not been to Afghanistan, some things have changed. A year ago, we managed to build or reconstruct many of schools. Even here, the children want to have pleasant surroundings, so suddenly trees and bushes around the schools started to appear. Our idea was the right one. Moreover, the apple trees can yield apples… but it also means that one must take care of it. This is exactly what we want. The children will plant their trees and they can have their own apples in a couple of years. The conditions in Afghanistan are really tough and it is not enough just to dig out the hole in the ground and wait. One must water the tree at the beginning. If the trees grow, we would see that the children can do something on their own and we would be sure that they do not just wait if they get something. The teachers assured us this was not a problem. We planted the first tree together and leave the others for the children in four days when the school starts.
We will see. We will come back to both schools;all of us firmly hope that the trees will be planted already.
March 21, 2011
It has been exactly a month since we started to fill our tasks here in Afghanistan. We needed a bit of time so that we could get ourselves oriented and got an idea on what and how should be done. I do not mean us soldiers as such as there is always something to do here. We started to fill our duties the minute we had arrived and took over the tasks from our predecessors. The month without the news from Afghanistan we used to find places and ways on how to use Centipede’s money and where to distribute the first aid car kits and school things from you.
It is an important day mainly for the people of Afghanistan;it is Nowruz – New Year. According to the calendar, it is the first day of the year 1390 today. I know it might sound strange to the European people, but it is like this – today it is the first year of 1390. The year begins with the first day of spring.
Except a new year, a new operation begins too, operation Rainbow. I know that the word “operation” sounds quite militarily, but on the other hand “Rainbow” is cheerful and colourful promise of something better – maybe a sun that comes after rain and clouds in the sky. Operation Rainbow is in a fact a Centipede operation. We want to continue with what we started in previous years and support local school, help children and teach them something too. Accepting something is easy. However, we want to teach the children in Afghanistan that if they try on their own, they will have better lives. As it is said at the end of one fairy tale: there is a treasure at the end of a rainbow;we will try to find the treasure at the end of ours.