Project with Czech Army - Afghanistan
Cpt. Lada Kovářová, who takes care of the realisation of the common project of the Centipede and the Czech Army in Logar, will regularly inform us through her diary about the whole project.
February 28, 2010
Today in the afternoon, the army plane with the members of the Czech contingent from Afghanistan arrived. Among the crew were also Col. Schulc and Cpt. Lada Kovářová who was in charge of the Centipede projects in cooperation with the Czech Army. Mrs. Běla welcomed them at the airport. It was really touching to see them thanking for possibility of working together and discussing the success of the project.
Allow us to thank in the name of all the Centipede children and teachers to Cpt. Lada Kovářová for a great job that enabled to deliver Centipede help to places where it was needed most. We would be reall happy if our cooperation could go on.
February 22, 2010
Last members of my team left for home today. It is a bit strange feeling, I was left in our office all by myself. Well, not all by myself, as there are the freshmen here. My task is to brief them about everything they will need for their work. That is why I would like to thank all my colleagues, to Martin who was my deputy and the one who run the whole administrative of our office. To Zdeněk who was my right hand in the projects; to Ruda who run the whole database and controlled us so that all the information would be recorded for our successors. Last but not least to Přemek and Tomáš whom we called our „maids of all works“, meaning they were doing everything. But without their help, I would never ever finished packing all the books and deliver them to schools. Thank you, guys, without your help I would not be able to write to our Centipede friends and our projects could never been realised.
At this moment, my Centipede diary is coming to an end. I will try to get back to you before I leave and if not, I will write you from home. Thank you all, boys and girls and teachers… everything I was writing about we did here could become reality only because of you. I thank to Mr. and Mrs. Dufek who helped to share my information with you all, and Hanka Flanderová, our Centipede consul from far away in Vietnam who translated my diary into English for the English website.
And most of all, I thank to Běla, for her trust and support.
Tomorrow, I will hand over my reign to my successor Lukáš, so further news about the activities of Centipede and our soldiers in Afghanistan will be from him.
February 20, 2010
The last trip! All the material except 10 suitcases for doctors that miss a couple of instruments was handed over to the Ministry of Health. American doctors and representatives of the American governmental organisation USAID joined us for the trip. The main purpose of the trip was handing over the material and discussion about further courses for midwives. The training of one midwife takes more than a year and is very expensive. The last training was financed by the EU funds; however, our American partners will participate in further training as well. At the last moment, the officers of the Ministry of Health started to co-operate and gave us the list of material that should be included in every set. They can relax. In every set there is much more that they requested. The handing over itself will be a part of the ceremony at the end of the training. Our soldiers will take part in this too, of course. I will be at home for long by that time, so our colleagues will perform this last task.
February 16, 2010
It took us the whole day to complete 50 sets, but the outcome is impressive. Every bag we filled with the material we ordered and added things that were given us by our medical staff. Every midwife will get - except the surgical instruments - also a lot of bandage material and other medical material so that se will be able to perform at least 10 deliveries in the field. The packages for the doctors are even better. They contain the instruments for basic check ups and treatment. I truly believe the doctors and midwives will be satisfied.
February 14, 2010
Our mission is coming to the end. Half of our small team is on the way home already, two more colleagues are ready to hop in the helicopter and set off direction Czech Republic. However, there is no time to relax yet. We still have to finish the last project. That is why we went to the storage room today and started completing the obstetric sets. One thing is ordering stuff on the Internet; the other one is seeing it in real after the delivery. I know that I ordered several types of tweezers and scissors. In theory I have just a rough idea about how this looks, but in reality the looks are different. The most important is not giving up and we can always ask our colleague doctor for help.
February 9, 2010
Today is interesting because of two reasons. At first, the supplier that was rented for the transportation of our project took the last part of the materials for the schools. Well, a few things were left here: two globes, a couple of books and dictionaries. This will be a present for the director and employees of the local Minister of Education. Most of them are also teachers and good relations with local authorities will be good for us in future.
The second good news is that today, new colleagues, who will replace us here in Logar, arrived. I have seen my successor Lukáš for just a couple of minutes, but I managed to tell him A LOT of information. There are more than two weeks left before my departure from Logar, so we will have time to share all the things together.
I almost forgot !! The third good news is that together with our colleagues, the first lot of obstetrical sets arrived. Well, to the work.
February 7, 2010
We are heading to the end. Today, we were in two last schools that we would visit in person and hand over all the things personally. The first was the girls´ Bibi Fatima School in Kolangar. The director was not present, unfortunately, so we handed over all the material to the English teacher who is in charge in training lessons. Bibi Fatima School is a school where also future teachers are being educated. As usually in Afghanistan, they do not have space enough and the lessons are conducted in shifts. That is why we decided to add a tent we had in our store (except the other things we brought). There is place enough for the tent, the place is surrounded by a fence, so we can be sure a little bit that nobody will destroy the tent.
The second school is named after the president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai School and is basically next to the base. This might be a slight disadvantage as it might look like the soldiers would overlook the school. As usually, children were helping us with unloading the goods, taking home some small gifts, pen or a pencil.
February 5, 2010
Today, I am not going to write about our project, but about the way we spend our free time here. Usually, Friday is a day off and that is why we decided to spend it in a way of active relaxation. We could also call it “A Day of Exercise of the Commanding Officer”. The whole week the soldiers from the Shank base (both Czech and American) and all civil servants could apply to compete in one of many disciplines. And there were things do choose – shooting competition, table football, poker, or hang on a horizontal bar… or tug of war. The last discipline caught interest of the girls of the Czech contingent. I am aware that the tug of war is not a girl’s sport… that is why we decided to take it in an unusual way. Every morning, you can meet one of my colleagues in colourful pyjamas. We did not make a deal on this, but pyjamas are sort of a uniform to us. Well, we decided to found the team of “Girls in pyjamas”. This idea came up at about 10 p.m. on Thursday, so we did not have much time to bring the idea to the end… In the end it was not that difficult to find 12 girls who were willing to have fun and entertain themselves and others. Two hours were enough, after all. Pyjamas, pony tails and mainly a car for the “big entrance”. It was a success. At noon, we arrived by the Dingo vehicle to the parking area where the gentlemen exercised. I wish you could see their surprised looks… that turned into smiles quickly. Hurra, let’s go for them…!! We shouted. Of course, we did not have a chance, not even with the help of our captain veterinarian Richard, who changed himself into Mrs. Richard for a while. It took about 5 seconds to the men to win the tug of war over us. Well, the whole action took altogether not more than 5 minutes, including the entrance and ovations. According to the number of pictures taken, it was a very successful 5 minutes. We came, we saw, and we won. Morally, at least… In the end, I could take a place next to the captain of the strongest team. Well, “Girls in pyjamas” are our stars !!
February 4, 2010
Today we went into another school, this time one of the biggest schools in district Mohammed Agha in Pol-e-Qandahar village. This school has been completely reconstructed thanks to the project of the civil experts of our provincial reconstruction team. The textbooks and school things will be just perfect for them.
February 3, 2010
There is a song by a popular Czech musician called „I hate goodbyes“. Well, we were singing this song in our office today, a bit sadly... The time to say good bye came. First of the soldiers leave and will go home in a couple of days. Our colleague Zdeněk who was “the brain” of the whole project documentation, is leaving too.
Thank you, Zdeněk for all your excellent work and see you soon at home !!
February 2, 2010
After my phone call the supplier came as fast as he could. I showed him the contract in which he signed the full responsibility for the quality of transported material. He understood immediately what I meant. I showed him the exact list of items and promised to repair all the damage done, on his own costs. Breaking the goods was a risk and we have to count with this. But the transport of all of our things so far away cost not even a thousand USD, that is why I did not feel like discussing the problem at that time. On the other hand, we were very careful while choosing the supplier and we had a great experience with him until now. Therefore, I truly believe that everything will be all right and the problems will be solved within two weeks.
February 1, 2010
A disappointment followed our yesterday’s enthusiasm. The soldiers came back from the field trip to Azra. Azra is the most remote district where our help went. We cannot get there by our vehicles and that is why we had to use helicopters. The equipment was on the way there for a couple of days in advance by the supplier’s vehicles. The long and snowy road was unfortunate for our load. We found out that some of the blackboards and bookcases were damaged. We contacted the supplier immediately, as we have to solve this problem.
January 31, 2010
My favourite school in Kumaidan. I was looking forward to the trip. Except the books, we could even managed to supply the school with the sewing machines and fabrics. The trip itself was a huge experience. At first, one of our vehicles broke down, but this happens from time to time due to the terrain and conditions in which the vehicles work. Also the weather was not that kind to us. It had been snowing the last couple of days and the road turned from dust into a muddy canal.
Anyway, welcoming in the school was very friendly, as usually. We checked four sewing machines that were brought a day before, by our supplier. We handed over hundreds meters of fabrics, buttons and threads that pleased all the teachers. And there were books, maps, blackboards and other school things. Of course, we were invited for tea and a long discussion followed. I was very touched by an old lady that started crying. She told me she had no daughter on her own, she had two sons, but one of them died during the war. She told me she would be praying for me as if I was her daughter she never had had.
After this touching good bye a dramatic part of our trip followed. Our vehicle got stuck in the mud and with every attempt to get it out it got even deeper. We had to detach the cart and with the help of local people we succeeded to get out in the end. For some of the soldiers, this was the last trip before going home, so they had a bit of adventure in the final days.
January 30, 2010
Today, we handed over the school things to two schools, in Kolangar and Shast-e-Zeydabad. The boys school Jahdi in the Kolangar village is one of those bigger schools and is in a good shape as it has been reconstructed by our civil experts. There is a small library in the school, but as the school has more than a thousand pupils, more books will be definitely needed. Moreover, during our last visit we could see that the school is used during the holidays for additional training courses and courses of English. The director showed us even a registry of borrowed books which none of us expected here. This is a good sign that the books will be used. The second school in Shast-e-Zeydabad village is even bigger, it has 2 200 students who study in tents… so we hit the target here too. There was no library, so it was a very good start for us.
January 28, 2010
Message for director Ms. Mazancová of the elementary school Kanice: Dear Ms. Director, last time I told I envied you your white winter a bit … well, today winter came to Afghanistan for a couple of hours too. When we woke up in the morning, there was about 30cm of snow outside !! It was a nice view, but on the other hand it is not extremely pleasant when your pyjamas get wet of snow on the way to the bathroom. Now, at 3 p.m., there is only mud instead of snow… but even this reminded me of home.
And one more message for all the school kids: I hope that nobody was disappointed with the school reports and you all will enjoy half term holiday. You deserve it well.
January 27, 2010
It was rainy today in the morning and this was a small complication for us. All the books we have stored in a tent that is usually used for repairing the vehicles. For all the long months, there were only a couple of raindrops. Today during the night, the forecast of our meteorologist came true and there was a heavy rain. Unfortunately, the rain got to the tent, so my colleagues had to reorganise the whole stock not to get wet. After this rainy “wake up” we went to the Khoshi district where we handed over the school tools to four schools. Well, handing over is not really the right expression… this district is not far away from our base, but it is a bit difficult to deliver the things there. That is why we hired a private car that could take our things to the schools. He is a very reliable supplier; from every school he brought the signed protocols about receiving the goods and even took some photos for us to be sure that the material was delivered.
We managed to visit three schools out of four. At the moment, it is holiday time in Afghanistan and some the schools are closed. In other schools, additional lessons and courses are organised.
In the first school, we saw our bookcase and textbooks only through the window. They were there, however… and the books were in the bookcases which was well-done. In the second school, additional lessons and English courses were organised. The books were in a different bookcase, but on the other hand: when I came to the room for the teachers, one of them was reading our book of stories and the other one was reading the textbook on physics. In the third school, only the district governor confirmed that he was present during the handing over of the books; the director of the school was in Kabul, so we could not get inside the school. Anyway, I have a very good feeling about this.
Tired and “frozen”, we came back to the base in the afternoon. Two suppliers were waiting for us there. One of them came to load the material for three schools in Azra district and the other one came and offered sewing machines and fabrics for the school in Kumaidan. Ladies will understand what a great feeling it was for me. The supplier brought the book of samples. Cotton, satin, embroided silk… as in the one thousand and one nights tale.
Běla, thank you for allowing me to realise this project. After these long months in Afghanistan, when I was choosing everyday between the two uniforms that I have here, I could suddenly choose of many many colours and materials and imagined what could be done from this or that. I decided in the end, but – believe me - it was tough.
January 26, 2010
Long live the high technology !! Today, we managed to organise a telephone conference. Me, Mrs. Běla and the Dufeks from Zubří, each on his/her line. All of us discussed about what more could be done so that you could be as close as possible to what we do here. A bright idea came up that can be said in one e-mail address: email@example.com. Do you want to ask anything? I hope I will be able to answer all your questions. And one more idea: as there is a little left from the whole sum that was collected for the help to the schools, we realized one more project could be done. For sure, you remember me writing about the school in the village of Kumaidan. One of the teachers is a dressmaker and she could teach the girls how to sew. I am not sure if that subject still exists in the Czech schools… Me and my colleagues tried to remember about the name of this school subject, maybe that was “family education”?! Well, we were studying how to cook, sew and embroider. During my last visit to the school, we talked about the possibility of educating the girls and I am really happy that this could become reality.
January 25, 2010
Today we started distributing the school tools. First school that was equipped with the bookcase and other things was the boys´ school in Dag Kala village. And the first hand over was like an action movie. As usually, after coming to the village, we were surrounded by tens of children. One of the boys managed to take away a small box from the cart we had. He started to run away immediately. However, our soldiers noticed this and told the teachers and local staff who started to follow the boy. The boy must have been disappointed as there were only spare keys and couple of clips in the box that what he thought had been a big catch… That might have been the reason why he threw it immediately and disappeared in a nearby alley. One would say we could be angry about this… we came to help them and they tried to steal from us. On the other side, try to imagine their situation. It was not that funny at the beginning as we would lose all the keys to all of the 25 bookcases. Now, imagining the small boy with the big treasure and everybody was hunting him… we had to laugh, in the end.
Handing over the school tools itself went with no problems. As my colleague Martin told me, the teachers were in shock, in a good way, of course. They told him that this was far more than they got from the Ministry and it was far more than they could imagine.
January 24, 2010
Great news. The medical material is already on the base Bagram in Afghanistan. From here, it will go to Kabul and then to us, to Shank. Moreover, yesterday we went together with the American medical team that will help us with the training of local midwives, to another field trip. I am very happy about this as I know that for sure we will be able to hand over all the material before our departure home.
On the base, we have more or less all the books that we need in order to begin their distribution to the schools. On Monday, this will be our first school in the Dagh Kala village. Next week, four more schools in the Khoshi district and my favourite girls school in Kimadan. Some of the books we will hand over by ourselves, something will be delivered by the supplier. Anyway, I know very well what I will be doing the whole next week. There are more than 10 000 books in our tent (that is a provisional store now). We have to divide these into 25 packets. I was remembering about Iraq, when we were preparing the school bags for more than 500 kids. Oh, I have the pain in my back only thinking about is, but there is no other way. This is the only way how to guarantee that every school gets really what it needs and that everything will be in order.
January 22, 2010
Friday is a day off in Afghanistan. Not for our contractors, though. As we want to start distribution on Monday, we have to work fast. Another supplier was a bit of shock for me. He was given an offer for another set of books. I expected the price to be approximately 50 USD… but was surprised when he asked for 90 USD !! Even after an hour of bargaining we could not agree as he did not want to go down with the price. On the other hand, he was the only one who offered world atlases and he would arrange for the transportation to the regions where we cannot get with our equipment, due to the security reasons. He is very reliable and I am aware of his high price offered for a good quality. However, I still think that it would be better to offer as many books as we can, maybe of a poorer quality (e.g. without coloured paintings), for a school with a 1000 kids. We have to have enough books. There is another danger of having excellent quality books – they could be sold to the black market; and this is definitely not what we want. In the end, we could not negotiate about the price of the books, but we achieved to arrange for the transportation and the supply of world atlases above this. And there are three more suppliers on the way.
January 21, 2010
Happy name day, Běla. We celebrated your name day with work. Other contracts, other suppliers and other bargaining. First order of the day was the one for 15 books, 116 pieces of each. It is complicated math. We have to distinguish how many elementary schools and high schools there are… even though a high school means a school with 12 grades here.
It depends on the size of the school. Well, in average we have minimum 4 books of each title. We also decided to have English dictionaries. This is not easy as there are a couple of languages being taught in Afghanistan, so there will have to be more dictionaries. Bargaining always starts at the total price that we are willing to pay to each supplier. Then we make the average of the prices of all the suppliers and that is how we come to the price of the whole set. In this case, we started on 45 USD… well, that is where the supplier started. The final price was 30 USD for 15 books. I have come down with some 30% and I consider this a success.
January 20, 2010
Well, we can say that the projects are running! The suppliers are coming all the time. On the base, there are completed blackboards and bookcases, globes and first delivery of books. We have to manage to get other books. We received more than 200 books from our suppliers; our translators did not accept some of them as they might cause problems with local culture. Even though I cannot read the writings, we set aside more of the books; for example that one with a longhaired blondie on the cover – this would definitely not be a book for local schools. I am really glad that we decided to buy samples first as we saved lots of troubles.
Funny thing was that most of our suppliers told us the samples were free when they were delivering them. As soon as they found out that they will not be given the whole order, they started to apologise themselves… that it is not worth for them to bring just samples for free. And they wanted to pay for them. We knew that in advance, however. Anyway, there were just a few of these books; others will be used for the sets to the schools.
January 17, 2010
What a day! During today, we were working on three projects, and this is quite a lot even for our team. I have to thank all my colleagues and other soldiers. They did a great job. At first, the supplier came and brought food for the poor families. This is the project of our army chaplain. The vehicle here must be screened and checked by the X-ray, the dogs etc. as we have to keep in mind we are still in Afghanistan. Also the Afghan national policemen came during this time. They were given the mattresses, blankets and dressing material for the police stations.
Well, finally, also the “Centipede” supplier came. He brought the first lot of textbooks. The total price of this delivery was 6 000,- USD. Looking at the pile of textbooks or notebooks, I was wondering if the price was not too high. It is more than 6 300 textbooks for all subjects that are being taught at elementary schools here. There are two complete sets for each school. This is only the beginning, we will be delivered with double the number of the textbooks by another supplier and we will add the special literature.
By the way, I was looking at the internet and compared the prices in the Czech Republic. I am a bit surprised how the prices changed; in the end, it has been more than 10 years since I left school… Well, I feel better now, our 94 cents for a textbook is really not that much. It is approximately 18,- CZK, and this is a good price (even for the Afghan quality).
January 14, 2010
Great, the first material for the project has arrived. The supplier delivered 26 globes. This is just the beginning; we can expect the biggest part to arrive within next couple of days.
January 13, 2010
Today, I visited 2 more schools. Both of them were in the Kolangar village. One of them was the school for boys that we know very well as it has been reconstructed thanks to the project of the civil engineers of our Provincial reconstruction team. The other one is the school for girls and I was happy that the director even let me in. In this school, also future teachers go through the training and prepare themselves for their future profession… so this school would be absolutely ideal for our project. I am really looking forward to my next visit, as there is minimum of the school equipment in this school. That is why we decided that this school will be given not only a bookcase and a map, but we will also add notebooks and pens and pencils… moreover, we will give them a tent, as the space in the school is not large enough and the lessons take place even on the school yard, in three shifts.
January 11, 2010
Huraaaaah !! Most of the medical material is in the distribution centre in Pardubice (this is the unit in charge of the transportation of the material to the missions). The gentlemen who were receiving the material were wondering a bit, as the obstetric instruments do not belong to the army world usually…
January 8, 2010
During the time we try to work on the school project in Afghanistan, in Chrudim in the Czech Republic, the material for the obstetric sets is being gathered. The only thing missing are a few instruments for the doctors, and these are on the way. We might even find the way how to import the things to Logar before our departure for the Czech Republic. I am not afraid the project not to be realized; the colleagues who will replace us will do the job as well as we do. The thing is, I do not like to leave things unfinished; that is why I tell to everybody here – smiling – that I will gladly hand over the humanitarian assistance on the day of my departure.
January 4, 2010
We stepped into the New Year, working. As we gathered the offers and samples from all the suppliers, we could start choosing the best ones. The total price of the project for the school gadgets is more than 0.5 million crowns. This is a lot of money not only here in Afghanistan, but in the Czech Republic too. We decided to divide the project among 5 suppliers who came closest to our ideas and requirements. It will complicate our work a bit (as there is 5 times more bureaucracy), but on the other hand it will mean good relations and cooperation for future. Bargaining about the price is a real adventure. You never know how far you can go and you cannot compare the prices with the ones in the Czech Republic/Europe. The suppliers always tell you that “this is the lowest price they can offer”, that “they themselves consider all the business as humanitarian assistance”… or they come with further and further costs to be paid during the transaction – transportation, communication costs, offloading the goods etc. I learned to be absolutely rigid; if somebody wants to go for a 5 000,- USD project, he must be able co cover the 30,- USD cost to the people who loaded the goods.
December 30, 2009
I called this day „the Ladies´ride“. We are leaving with the squad car in the Women Affairs Department to see Ms. Najiba and then for the girls school in the village of Kumaidan. I am not going alone, my American colleagues from CIMIC and an American doctor are accompanying me. Gentlemen who accompany us are a bit nervous, as they never had so many women in the squad car. There are 6 of us and this is really a lot in the men’s world. The discussion was great, however, it was longer than expected… so many women have always many things to talk about, regardless of the nationality. Firstly, we discussed with Ms. Najiba the way of distributing the obstetric suitcases and then we had a traditional local bread and tea for lunch in the canteen of the girls´ school. They were impressed with the library that we plan to get for them. We were also talking about getting a sewing machine for the girls, so that they could learn how to sew. The Deputy Director of the school used to work as a dressmaker. The whole trip took 3 hours longer than planned, but was definitely worth it. And I am sure it was not the last one.
December 24, 2009
It is the Christmas Eve… well back at home in the Czech Republic. Here in Afghanistan, we work as usually. The suppliers start to come back to us. One after another, they bring the books that they offer. We are a bit confused, as none of us can read or write the local language. Choosing the right books will be the task for the translator. We were surprised with the paperbacks. These are about 20 books of the size of the notebook. Much to our surprise, these are books for all the 12 classes of the elementary school. The Children in the 5 class in the Czech Republic have more books for one term than this. Unfortunately, children in Afghanistan are happy just to learn to read and write.
This part of the project is always fun for me. Even though I run away from the bargaining on the market in Tunisia during my holiday, this is a different story. I am very strict with the suppliers. They are obviously very surprised, mainly because I am a woman. Straight away, I refuse the maps and things that do not correspond with our ideas; I also refused the inflatable globe that is very popular in Afghanistan. Not even arguments of the furniture companies satisfy me (after all, I wrote my diploma work in a furniture company, so I recognise high quality furniture). Of course, we cannot expect the European quality here but some of the arguments seem funny to me. One of the furniture suppliers uses an interesting method. It is not the first time that he is co-operating with us and during every meeting he gives us a small present. He brought us apples, then bananas, today it was tangerines… I remembered the Czech film „Jáchyme hoď ho do stroje“ – do not take bribes, or you get crazy of it. Well, it is nice of him, but tangerine will definitely not be enough.
December 21, 2009
I begin to panic a bit. I still miss larger instruments for the obstetric sets. It is not that I did not find the suppliers, but we (me and our doctor, who is not an obstetrician) lack professional knowledge to order the sets. Instruments such as delivery forceps remind me of the middle age torture instrument. The price of one, however, is a couple of thousands and we still have 100 thousand Czech crowns, that I would not like to spend in a bad way. That is why I am calling my friend who is an obstetrician, Dr. Gergel from Zlín. He is happy to hear me and reports that he is ready to fulfil any of my commands. I am explaining my problem. He says something like he was surprised by the things I was doing, but promised to help. After New Year the new order should work out and then – huraaa to Afghanistan.
December 20, 2009
We gathered the offers of all the suppliers and I have to say that doing business in Afghanistan is more than complicated. We are not that sure about the offers that we received, so I vote for a special option. I asked every supplier to deliver the sample of books, maps and other things… and blackboards as well. We will have to pay for these samples, the market here has different conditions than the one in the Czech Republic. But, it is good for us to take a little risk and pay for a few books that we do not know exactly than pay for an uncertain delivery for 30 thousand of dollars.
December 8, 2009
Our colleagues begin to laugh at me, that I have become an obstetrician – amateur. It sounds a bit pejoratively, but in reality it means that I spend my time on the Internet, and together with our doctor we look for high quality, but cheap medical instruments and other material. I can say that I learned about many interesting things. I know that the most used scalpel is that of size 10, the tweezers is usually 18 cm long and other… It is a new world for me. On the other hand, I have found many new people here that do understand our work, are able to deal with our offers in the best way and gladly help us. We begin to order, as time is money. And there is one more thing ahead of us – delivering the material to Afghanistan.
December 5, 2009
In the meantime, my colleague Zdeněk worked on our offer of a project for local logistical companies. The request of the Ministry of Education helped us in concentrating our aim to certain schools. Unfortunately, he did not help us in specification of the particular books and school things. Let us try it in general… We will ask 5 companies to make an offer for the schoolbooks for elementary schools (up to 12 classes here in Afghanistan). We are interested in the prices of maps, wall pictures of animals, plants, schemes for mathematics, writings etc. Furthermore globes, rulers, blackboards and cabinets that could be used as libraries. The deadline is 10 days, so we will see what time will tell.
December 1, 2009
During the past weeks, we focused on survey of the territory. It sounds very „action and militarily“, but in reality we visited villages and were looking for schools that were recommended by the educational department as places where our aid should be aimed. During this time, our doctor addressed a couple of companies involved in medical instrument production with the request for sending the offers for materials according to our specifications. Unfortunately I have to admit that we were disappointed by their approach and price offers. 20 thousand US dollars is not a small amount. So, we have to start again, this time on the Internet.
November 15, 2009
We managed to find the right person from the Ministry of Education. We had a meeting with this officer today. Again, after several times, I repeated our proposal and explained what we wanted from him. Again, I learned that they needed computers. Well, it looks like my argument that buying computers to the schools where there are no books, map of the world and mainly electricity was useless, worked out. The officer promised us to send us the list by the end of the week. Hopefully this will work out, next week it is a holiday and nobody works here. Unfortunately, he informed us about the school holidays that will start in a month and will last until March 6. This will complicate our work here – but on the other side – I would like to be a student in Afghanistan.
Today was a successful day; except the morning meeting with the representative of the Ministry of Education I managed to talk to Dr. Hekmatulah who is a doctor training the midwives. According to him, 60 midwives finished the training and more 40 are ready to start the course. Unfortunately they have not enough equipment for deliveries in the terrain. Of course, we will not be able to provide the medical sets for everybody, but at least part of them we can manage. It is up to us to decide what the set will consist of. I handed over this task to our doctor, Maj. Ferkál who will contact his friends doctors and obstetricians and will try to specify the equipment of the sets. As for other equipment for the obstetricians we have received a long list of material that is missing. We will not engage into the supplies of medicaments (there is a huge lack of medicaments here). But we will concentrate on medical equipment and obstetric instruments that can be used repeatedly and are missing here too.
November 12, 2009
I am coming back to the base FOB Shank. It is a little shock – after three weeks in the Czech Republic. We begin to work on the particular form of projects. During my stay home, many officers at the Ministry of Education have changed. I truly hope that this exchange will be for better, as the communication with the old director of the educational department was really tough. He promised anything, but he did not fulfil his promises. A couple of months ago, I was asking him for the list of things that could improve the quality of education. The result was a list of all the schools in Logar, request for 114 libraries, 1850 computers and schools sets for more than 100 thousand of children. He obviously did not understand what we wanted.
October 29, 2009
During my trip to the Czech Republic I met Mrs. Běla. We discussed how the aid in Afghanistan should look like. We decided the best way would be to concentrate on helping the children in many ways – by buying school and educational gadgets and the medical equipment for midwives and obstetricians.