The Movement On Own Feet - Centipede

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Centipede help for children in Logar, Afghanistan, continues - part 1

Project with Czech Army - Afghanistan

Lt. Lukáš Kubíèek took over from Cpt. Lada Kováøová not only working duties, but he will also continue in the realisation of the common project of the Centipede and Czech Army in Logar. In his diary, he will inform us about the development of the project of getting your help to your friends in Afghanistan.

Part 2 - click here.

April 29, 2010
A very successful course of breastfeeding and child’s nutrition was concluded! The Minister of Health of the Logar province Mr. Zarif came to our base today in order to inform about the conclusion of the course of breastfeeding and nutrition. Centipede was the patron of this course. Minister Zarif informed us that he was very satisfied with the course. And not only him, but all the participants too. He confirmed our observing during the control visits to the course. The course was really well prepared, including all the materials and utilities for the course. Silva and Petra had also the chance to watch a lesson and talk to the participants after it. All of them were literarily impressed that they could extend their knowledge in the field of care of the newborns and children up to 5 years of age. All present women agreed on handing over the knowledge in future in their hospitals all over the Logar province. It was not only thanks, as usually; the women tried to ask for their further requests. Mrs. Feroza Monsef from Azra district thanked the coalition troops,

Centipede and the Ministry of Health for a perfect organisation and high quality course. She added that she had been working as a nurse since last 10 years and she saw many newborn die because of simple health complications. She stressed out that in her hospital (in Azra D.C.) there is an absolute lack of incubators and other special instruments that could save lives of many children. Couple of time, she the provincial Ministry of Health addressed with her request, but every time her requests were denied, due to the lack of finances. The situation is even much worse in remote regions of the Azra district where every third newborn child dies and every 15th child is mentally or physically challenged due to a bad treatment of its mother during the pregnancy. Mrs. Mosef said that she is aware of the fact, that this must be solved by the Afghan government and that the coalition troops and non-governmental donors can play supportive role only as in the case of these courses. She thanked the „Caterpillar“ again.
One of the other participants of the course Mrs. Farzana Sayed told us that this specific course had been the first course of this kind in her life. She has five children on her own, one of them mentally disabled. She works as a midwife in the Baraki Barak district and she was chosen to participate in the course as one of the five candidates from the region. Mrs. Sayed appreciated especially the opportunity to talk to the other colleagues and share their experience. She also told the girls that it was the first time for her to leave Baraki Barak district and that she really liked the capital of the province. As all the other women, Mrs. Sayed is ready to hand over her new knowledge to her colleagues in the district hospitals. The main problem in „her“ hospital is the total lack of equipment and instruments in the hospital. Except the coat the employees of the hospital have to arrange everything else on their own. Mrs. Sayed also told us that she did not receive a salary for the third month now.

Well, allow me to sum up and remind to the whole Centipede family about the main points of the course. The whole course was organised by the Afghan government, provincial Ministry of Health, under the patronage of the province Governor Mr. Lodin. The course was divided into two parts, each of them lasted for 5 days. In every course there were 30 participants who received the certificate at the end of the course. This is 10 more participants than planned, but with the same costs. The women were chosen out of 6 districts of the Logar province. All of them committed to handing over the gained knowledge and practical experience in their hospitals to their colleagues through giving them similar lectures as there were in the course. Thanks to this, we hopefully ensured spreading the information to as many people as possible. As Minister Zarif said, all the participants of the course realise that without the help of the Centipede and Czech PRT this course would never take place. In the name of the 5th contingent of the Czech Army PRT Logar I would like to thank to all the members of the Centipede family who enabled to educate 60 Logar women who are responsible for the Afghan babies. Thank you, Centipede !!

April 25, 2010

Today in the morning, colleagues Jakub and Pepa went to Babus village. The purpose of their trip to this (not so friendly) region was to explain the work of the coalition forces ISAF here. As usually, the patrol was international, except Czech and American soldiers there were Afghan policemen and soldiers too. They talked to the people of the village, asked for their opinions and ideas connected to the presence of international troops in the region. During the whole morning, they succeeded to gather lots of information about present events in Afghanistan and the province. Approximately after 9 p.m. the boys came safely to the base. They were suntanned and tired to death. No wonder, during the day the temperatures climb up to 40°C. If we add the whole-day conversation in English-Czech-Pashtoo-Russian language and the everlasting precaution needed, the boys deserved their 24 hours sleep well.

April 20, 2010

As we informed you in our previous stories, Centipede schools were chosen in cooperation with the district Minister of Education Mr. Jafar. One of them will be school in Gowmaran village. Today, Radim and Petra went to visit this school today in order to talk to the director about future cooperation. By only coming to the school they knew that the school was chosen correctly. The school looked very poor, even if the locals tried to keep it in shape. The desks and chairs were only in three classrooms (out of 16), the blackboards were only in half of the classrooms. In other classrooms, the children were sitting on the floor. They had textbooks only for some of the subjects; notebooks and pencils had to hold for a year at least. On the „playground“, children play football with hype, instead of the goals there are only 4 stones… Well, a similar situation is to see in many villages that are a little further from the province capital Pol-e-Alam. The director of the school welcomed our colleagues very warmly and said that he really appreciated the interest of the coalition troops in his region and his school. He explained to Radim and Petra the system of the lessons and the subjects. Except the lack of almost all equipment that would help to increase the quality of the lessons, the director complained especially about lack of teachers and overcrowded classes. Mr. Hakim was also informed about our idea to help his school with providing them the basic school equipment for pupils and students. Petra explained the recourses that would be used for buying the equipment. She pointed out that Centipede movement is the movement of the children and the help would be from children to children. As usually with the Centipede project, this initiative was met with gratitude. Mr. Hakim told us that if the whole plan was successful, he would write a personal letter to the Czech Centipede teachers and students. After approximately one hour meeting, Petra and Radim were offered a tour round the school. Radim had the chance to test the math knowledge of couple of students. He found out that even if the student was really nervous, the results were OK. After that, our colleagues thanked to director Hakim and came back safely to the base.

April 18, 2010

Today in the morning, the patrol to Pol-e Qandahari village was organised. This is the village in the Northern district of Mohammad Agha that is a remote one; however this village is quite easy to reach. It is close to a main asphalt road that leads through the whole Logar province. Our colleague Pepa and members of the civil part of our contingent visited local school and took part in the meeting of shura, the council of the elderly. As usually, assistance of the Czech PRT, mainly in the field of education, was the main topics of the discussion. Local school is the only educational centre in this region. It is situated nearby the district centre and is visited by children of all villages nearby. Some time ago, Czech PRT decided to realise the construction of the third wing of the school building. The construction goes well and local pupils, students and teachers cannot wait the new building to be finished. The representatives of the shura had lots of requests for equipping the new school in order to improve the conditions for studying. Some of them we will take under consideration, of course, some of them we will have to reject from the beginning. We would like to discuss with our American colleagues the cooperation on this project.
We recovered the idea of lectures about mine danger that could be given to the schools here. To help this, leaflets in Pashtoo language were printed out, that inform about how one should behave in case he/she finds and unexploded mine or munitions. We took this project over from our colleagues in Kosovo where these lectures are organised on regular basis. However, in the conditions of Afghanistan, the situation is a bit more complicated and we do not have more time for lectures than 10 minutes for each. The first attempt for the lecture was warmly welcomed by both student and teachers. The purpose of all this is to prevent killing of local people and especially children by unexploded munitions and mines. As confirmed by Mr. Afazali, the chief of local police, the adults mostly know about the danger, but the children do not realise it. They even try to take home the munitions as souvenirs and this ends tragically for them, with injury or even death. Well, responsibility for education in this field will be the aim of our work here, too.

April 16, 2010

On April 16, 2010, the soldier and civil members of the 5th contingent of the Czech Army PRT Logar organised Children’s day/Centipede day, on the base FOB Shank. Around 9.45 a.m. first children, accompanied by their fathers, started to gather. Mothers and women stayed in private at home, according to the Muslim tradition. In the end, there were about 60 children. We were a bit surprised, because based on our experience, the people were shy and we did not meet that many children during the events in the past. Well, the event was a success even before it started. At 10 a.m. the opening speech was held by Col. Ing. Rudolf Honzák, MSS. Collonel greeted all children and parents on the base and thanked them for coming to spend the whole day with the coalition soldiers.

He pointed out that the aim of today is mainly having fun and getting to know each other. The representative of the US Army, Supreme Sergeant Chris Rolling reminded in his speech that Czech and American soldiers in Logar province try to help the local people with the development and reconstruction of their country. He also said that children are the biggest fortune for every nation in the world. And this day was dedicated to children specifically. After the opening speeches, four dynamic demonstrations were prepared. The parents together with children watched the demonstration of hurdle cross, done by the soldiers of the Afghan National Army. After that, Czech soldiers demonstrated the army martial art MUSADO. In the end, the Czech dog trainers demonstrated the training of the dogs. All the demonstrations were a huge success; nevertheless the demonstration with the dogs was the most

favourite one. Generally, the Afghan people are scared of dogs and they consider dogs as dirty and perfidious animal. One of the most offensive things is to call an Afghan a dog. That is why most of the people present were really surprised about how calm and obedient a dog can be. After every reaction of the dog to the order of the soldier, there was a huge response in the public. In the end, when the dog reacted to the “aport” order, all of the people started to applaud. We were not surprised that the children wanted take a picture with the dog or simply to palm him. For his great patience, he was rewarded with a goody.
Following that, the children were divided into three groups. Every group went through different stands and filled different tasks. There were 5 stands in total – throwing balls on the cans, throwing balls into a tiger’s mouth, throwing the rings, slalom with the football and drawing the pictures. For every successful try (well, even the unsuccessful ones) every competitor was rewarded with a small present.

The most favourite was drawing of the pictures. The most frequent motive of all the drawings was the Centipede, of course, the patron of the Children’s day. The children were very interested in the model of the Centipede and it went from one hand to another… well the tentacles broke again in the end. During the whole day, our American colleagues were playing Afghan songs for children on the radio, so the mood was really fine. In the end, the children proved that they have a sense of rhythm, when they started to dance the traditional dances. The friendly and imminent atmosphere was almost perfect. After physically demanding disciplines refreshment was ready for everybody. Around 1 p.m. the children started to say goodbye and the Children’s day was coming to the end. The family members from nearby and even far away thanked us a lot for the nice morning and ensured us that we were always welcome in their villages. In return we promised them that today’s event was definitely not the last one and if the people would be interested, this could become a tradition. All of us realise that one of the ways how to come closer to the people of this country, is through their children.
I would like to thank very much all members of the 5th contingent of the Czech Army PRT Logar who contributed to the Children’s day with their work in their free time and helped to produce all the necessary things for the children. Thanks a lot, boys and girls!

April 10, 2010

The first course on nutrition and breastfeeding has begun! At 10 a.m., province Minister of Health Mr. Zarif, in the presence of the 5th
contingent of the Czech Army PRT Logar, opened the course. Everything was perfectly ready and all 25 students of the first course came to the capital of the province Pol-e Alam, accompanied with their husbands. After the welcome speech of Minister Zarif and representative of our contingent Silvie, the course was opened. During following 5 days all the students will train in theory and practise in order to be able to work as specialists in breastfeeding and nutrition. Minister Zarif did not forget to point out that it would not be possible to organise the course without its patron, the Centipede children’s movement. During following days, we will bring the views and response of the participants and the representatives of the province. Only taking the photos will be a bit difficult. Of course, the course is organised for women only who are accompanied by their husbands. Even though all the women that were accepted to the course were very grateful for this possibility, only a few of them agreed on having a picture taken with our girls.

April 9, 2010
The contract has been signed, the deposit had been paid! As agreed during our meeting at the Ministry of Health on April 7, 2010, Minister Zarif came to our base in order to accept the responsibility of the smooth running of the nutrition and childcare courses. To our surprise, Mr. Zarif asked if we would bring the caterpillar to the beginning of the courses. After a while we understood that most probably he meant the Centipede, the sponsor of the whole event. During a previous meeting, Silva and Petra explained to him the main ideas and aims of the Centipede movement. Minister is one of the few representatives who speaks English quite well and has the access to the internet. Together with his curiousness we were surprised that he had a good knowledge about the Centipede… well, Caterpillar, according to him. But even this small misunderstanding was explained and we assured him that the Centipede will definitely be there. Everything is agreed and we can only hope that everything will work out well.

April 7, 2010
On March 13, 2010, I informed already in our diary that we would try to organise course on nutrition and childcare, together with the Minister of Health Mr. Zarif. The whole course will be organised under the patronage of the Centipede movement and also will be financed from the Centipede funds. Once again to remind you – the purpose of the course will be training of the staff in the field of nutrition and general childcare. Not only local women, but also local authorities and media are very much interested in the courses. Except Minister Zafir, also the Governor of Logar province Mr. Lodin is interested in organising the course.
Afghanistan is the country with the second highest newborn mortality in the world. The Centipede family will thanks to this event contribute to a better quality of the childcare in Afghanistan. During today’s negotiations, we agreed on the terms of the courses. The courses will be introduced on April 10, 2010 in the capital of the province Pol-e Alam. It was also decided that the contract about organising the courses will be signed between the Ministry of Health and the 5th contingent of the Army of the Czech Republic on April 9, 2010, at the base FOB Shank.

April 6, 2010
Another visit to the restless Charkh district. Colleague Silva and other girls from the contingent went, under the protection of the guys of MOT (Mobile and operational team ensures the security of our members during each patrol outside of the base), to one of the local hospitals in order to help local doctors. We could call our visit „Open doors for local women and children“. The event was pre-arranged and that is why it was a bit more dangerous. Because of this, the security measures were applied in the surroundings and at the entrance of the hospital. Every woman and child were screened thoroughly so it would not be possible to carry on inside a weapon or explosives to threaten our soldiers. Such a check may seem a bit unpleasant, but most of the locals welcomed it; their lives and the lives of their children were safe too. And one has to be careful, with so many people being at one place.
Around 10 a.m. first women and children started to come. Our first expectation of the number of visitors corresponded with the reality of the first day. Basic treatment was done and packets with vitamins and medical equipment were presented to 286 women and children of the Charkh district. At the end, as usually, representatives of the local authorities and employees of the local health centre thanked us. These events are one of many opportunities how to show the locals that the coalition troops ISAF really do care about their destinies. Only future will show how successful these events will be.

April 5, 2010

It is Easter Monday! We, boys from Haná, according to our tradition set up for search for all the women on the base in order to „whip“ them, with a special whip. Usually at home, the boys make it from willow tree wicker, but as we did not find any of those here, we made it out of the internet cables. Well, it was blue, but it served its purpose… in many regards better than the original one ;o) During the last week we also put on the information leaflets for our foreign colleagues so that they would understand what was going on. I am not sure if they understood the weird Czech spring tradition that should ensure for the girls health and vitality in coming year. However, our American colleagues were really thrilled with the opportunity to chase the girls and whip them a bit. As there are not many women on our base, we finished in a short while. I can assure you that the girls were not hurt at all… and all of the boys received in return the Easter chocolate eggs „Made in USA“.

April 4, 2010
In order to „break the ice“ during the negotiations with the locals, we try to study the local language Pashtoo. We keep on trying to learn the basic phrases, with the help of an experienced instructor. Pasthoo language belongs to the more difficult ones, especially the pronunciation of particular syllables was not created for non-muslim throats. Despite this, most of us face this challenge bravely. Even though, when some of us were pretty much convinced about their knowledge of some of the phrases, we were caught by surprise with our instructor’s honesty. When we asked about our level of Pashtoo and if he thought we were doing progress, he replied that we were really good students and were trying hard. However, none of the locals will understand us. He was truly right, as I could see immediately during my next patrol.

April 3, 2010
This Thursday, a visit to district centre in Mohammad Agha was organised. We were about to have negotiations with the representatives of the local shuras and nearby villages. According to the programme, the meeting was about to start at 10 a.m. Well, around 11.15 a.m. the first local representatives started to gather, exactly according to the Afghan understanding of time. In following 15 minutes the hall in the centre was almost packed. Speeches of the representatives of the coalition troops followed. The speech of the Jordan colleague had the greatest response, of course, followed with applause of the guests. From the translation I understood that the Jordan representative only greeted the public in the name of the Jordan people and pointed out that the Muslims have to always stick together; not a word of any present or future projects. Even by this we can see how difficult it is for a European to please local people and gain their trust and affection. The aim of the Czech PRT was to explain to the locals the system of applying for projects and listen to all their problems. As usually, the biggest problems they see in the field of security, education and agriculture. Even though there are many projects realised in these spheres, not always the locals are fully satisfied and want
their projects and ideas to be worked on. After the meeting, about 30 applicants for new projects addressed us, even the whole procedure was explained earlier. We had to explain again, for about the third time, the whole procedure from the beginning. The applicant needs to discuss his project with shura of his village. The proposal is then sent to the province council and after its approval it is possible for the project to be realised. That is how all the local representatives will be involved and they will feel more responsible for the realisation of the projects. At the end of the meeting, refreshment was being served in form of a big plate full of rice with a boiled sheep’s head in the middle of it. According to the tradition, we sat on the floor and ate rice and mutton with one hand. That is how most of business is being done here.

March 31, 2010
One of many visits into our favourite village Padkhvab-e Shaneh. The aim of our today’s visit in this part of the Logar district was realisation of another quick impact project. Together with our American colleagues we bought lots of school and sports utilities that were handed over to the representatives of local shura (the council of the elderly) and the directors of four local schools. Especially children were very pleased with our visit. Our American colleagues managed to weld the construction of football goals that were equipped with the nets. Unfortunately, during the difficult transportation, one of the goals got broken. That is why there was only one goal on the playground at the moment. The children were happy, anyway. Immediately, they rushed to the goal. Even though they had the footballs, they used the goals for climbing and exercising hangs. The other goal we took back to the base in order to repair it and transport it back to Padkhvab-e Shaneh.

March 29, 2010
Today in the morning, our colleagues Kuba and Lukáš visited the district minister for education Mr. Jafar. The main purpose of this short meeting was choosing two local schools that our common Centipede project would concentrate on. We submitted several suggestions. After a short discussion we agreed on one school in Charkh district and the other one in Mohammad Agha district. One of the schools is for boys, the other one for girls. We also wanted to involve minister personally, so that we could avoid questions and discussion about the selection of the schools. Of course, schools that need help can be found anywhere here; however, our possibilities are limited. That is why it is absolutely necessary for us that the highest-ranking official of the province in the field of education is responsible for the selection of the schools. So, the schools were chosen! Further step in the realisation of our project will be visits to these schools, negotiations with their directors and creating the list of their requests.

March 25, 2010

The Infantry Centipede patrol set up to Hamid Karzáí school! Approximately at 8 o’clock Logar time, about 30 Czech, American and Afghan soldiers left to hand over the school material and sport equipment to the children of a high school close to our base. Even if the minister of education Mr. Jafar and the director of the school Mr. Mohammed were informed about our project, we were sure that this information has been kept secret from the children. We think so because of the reaction of children… well, the truth is that local children would react in the same immediate way even if they new in advance, but this was just wonderful. Before presenting our staff itself, there was a short discussion with minister Jafar and the director and teachers of the elementary school. The director and the teachers assured us that they educate the children so that they would become decent, educated and proud Afghans, some of who will take over responsibility for the development of their country. They also appreciated help they are getting from coalition soldiers and especially Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). After this, the director surprised us by showing a book with detailed records of all the help they were given by the Czech PRT. With every record, there was a name of the person who was handing over the assistance. We started our mission about 6 months ago, but so far we have not seen records like this, precise and detailed as they were. Presenting our gifts went with no problems; small misconduct were solved by the teachers in a traditional way (one and half meter cane that calmed down the biggest hooligan).
There was one negative moment of the day, however. My colleague Norbert comments: "The children were curious, some of them could speak a little English and were constantly asking about our equipment. The centre of their attention was a wooden Centipede model that went from hand to hand. I even lost it from my sight for a while. At this moment, I felt like the magician from the Czech film „The Elementary School“ who was looking for his circles after his performance. In the end, the Centipede got back to me. However, one of its tentacles was broken and that made me a bit angry. I took it back, gave it to my backpack and left".
After we came back to the base, we tried to calm down Norbert and took the Centipede to the workshop to repair it. Well, treating the children here desires a bit of patience and constraint. In the end we decided that it would be Norbert again who will introduce Centipede and its projects to children during our next project. Well, we have not told him yet… we will wait until he calms down and his disappointment and anger will disappear.

March 23, 2010

Today in the morning, the contingent commander of the Jordan Royal Army visited us. The Jordan Royal Army uses the base FOB Shank, the same as Americans and we do. After a short informal welcome, the commander of the Czech contingent Col. Honzák informed his counterpart Col. Al-Khazaleh about the realised projects and introduced our future projects. As we were more connected with the American colleagues, we offered Col. Al-Khazaleh the co-operation between our and Jordan CIMIC group.
Likewise his American colleague, we informed Col. Al-Khazaleh that one of our main donors, who contribute to the development of local province, is Centipede children movement. Col. highly appreciated the work of Centipede and said that for all the Muslims including the Jordan people, children are a gift and the most important part of their lives. Within next 14 days, we should discussed co-operation between Czech a Jordan CIMIC group in details. Huge advantage will be the fact that the soldiers from Jordan (being Muslims) will have easier approach towards the locals than we or our American colleagues have. We would love to use this during the realisation of our project and by this strengthen our position towards local people. At the end of our meeting, we exchanged many presents. The book “If all the Children of the World” was among them.

March 20, 2010
Another Centipede project is being prepared. Together with our American colleagues we decided to organise handing over the school tool and sports equipment to another Logar school. The Americans who were introduced the Centipede ideas already and its aims and mission always welcome our ideas and suggestions concerning help to local children. Today, we were organising the event that is planned for March 25, 2010. We prepared and loaded the material and discussed the time of departure. We have approximately 200 packets of the size A4 paper, 30 volleyballs and footballs, some pumps, 5 big boxes of pens, pencils and notebooks. The American partners delivered the equipment for the whole cricket team. Cricket is one of the most popular sports in Afghanistan. We chose the Hamid Karzáí elementary school in Pol-e Alam. All of us hope that the event will go just fine, even if the Ministry of Education and the director of the school know about it, the children will be surprised.

March 19, 2010
All the Josefs celebrate today… as we have one Josef in our team too, we wish him all the best! Celebration on the base can be only simple, so we decided to remember home this Friday afternoon. Our colleague Radim brought some Czech salami; together with the fresh home-made bread we created almost perfect illusion of home. Even though the food at the base is not bad at all, the men of our team really appreciated the Czech sausage.

March 18, 2010
Today, our American colleagues and we invited representatives of four schools from a nearby village Padkhvab-e Shaneh to our place. We wanted to discuss the exact procedure of equipping schools with the material and tools for lessons. Except notebooks, pens and other similar things, blackboards and chalks will be handed over to the schools. During our meeting with the representatives of the Padkhvab-e Shaneh schools, we introduced them and our American colleagues the Centipede movement. We introduced the idea of the Centipede movement and answered all the questions that were aiming to the project "Centipede helps the children in Logar". Everybody appreciated especially the fact that it is children who help. Our American colleagues asked if it would be possible for them to participate in some of our project in future. Of course we agreed, as the more enthusiastic people are willing to co-operate, the more project will be realised. At the end of the meeting, we were invited for lunch with traditional Afghan food. For the locals, the food was just usual, but for some of us the combinations of the local food was a bit strange… for example the mix of half rare, most probably beef and mutton meat, together with sinew and gristles.

March 17, 2010
Two trips were scheduled for this day. One of the patrols represented us in the capital of our Pol-e-Alam province; it was the meeting with the representatives of particular ministries. The aim of these meetings is to clarify common approach in the reconstruction and development projects in Logar. The representatives of the ministries presented the projects that could contribute to the development of the province. As these are larger projects, the „big players“ take part in the meeting s – Czech PRT and American US AID. For our CIMIC group, however, this is a wonderful opportunity to discuss further meetings that will deal with our QUP (Quick Impact Projects).
At the same time, the second CIMIC group went to Mohammad Agha district to find out information about possible assistance to several local schools. In the next days, we should chose, in co-operation with the provincial minister of education Mr. Kamalodin, one or two schools that would become Centipede school in the Logar province.

March 13, 2010
Another Centipede project in Logar !! Together with the Ministry of Health in the Logar province and our civil colleagues from the Czech PRT we decided to organise a Course of healthy nutrition and childcare. The infant mortality in Afghanistan belongs to the highest in the world. There are no qualified hospital personnel in the Logar province that could manage the issues of nutrition and care of new-born children. The course is scheduled for about 50 women and will be lead by international instructors. Every woman will receive a certificate at the end of the course and has to promise that she will work for the hospital where she lives. Choosing the candidates was not easy. We set up couple of criteria that needed to be filled by everybody who wanted to take part in the course, for example passing all nine classes of the elementary school. This is how we could be sure that the candidates could read and write. Our aim is not only to teach as many women as possible about the care of the new-borns, but to educate quality staff that will be able to train other people. Another criteria was the residency of the women. We tried to choose women of all districts and we succeeded in six cases out of seven. The course will last 7 days and there will be two of them. Due to a large number of students the courses will be divided into groups of 25 persons. The Afghan government will cover the salary of these future medical staff, as well as other courses that will follow in other districts. In this way sharing experience will be effective and Centipede will for sure contribute to improving the quality of healthcare of the new-borns in the Logar province. The results will not be visible immediately; all of us are sure, however, that our efforts have sense. Our girls, Petra and Silva, will closely watch the whole course and you will be informed in my diary about it all, of course.

March 12, 2010
Today we managed to realise handing over 1 000 litres of motor oil to the members of Afghan National Police. This Quick impact project should help to the local police to a greater mobility and higher quality of their work. It will be Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army who will take over the responsibility for the security of the country in future. But this will take some time, of course.

March 11, 2010
The main advantage of a CIMIC group member should be the ability of empathy and acting with people. Except this, everybody of us is a soldier at the same time; here in Afghanistan, we do not always meet with positive approach of local people. That is why regular training of shooting technique and health care is important. It is also a great opportunity for us how to relax a bit and compete for the best shooter of the CIMIC group.

March 10, 2010
Another CIMIC trips for the negotiations of our further projects, this time in the Charkh district. Logar province is divided into seven districts. Well, province is similar to the Czech region and district is similar to Czech township. Because Charkh belongs to the most remote districts, helicopters are mainly used for transportation of material and people. Therefore, planning of the trip was a bit more difficult than usually. For me and my colleague Radim, the day started very early. The purpose of our trip was meeting with the representatives of Shura (council of the elderly) and local people, discussing their problems and identifying possible projects in this region.
Together with us, American colleagues, mostly doctor and nurses took part in the trip. Our destination was Pangram clinic, the healthcare centre. People of this province were informed about our visit in advance by the representatives of the province. During the day (9 – 16 o’clock) they could use the presence of American doctors and have a medical check. Immediately after landing and moving to the closely watched local hospital we saw a long queue of locals, sitting by the road. As Charkh district belongs to the problematic ones in the Logar province, the security issue was very important for all of us. Everybody, who wanted to enter the hospital, had to pass two control points; the Afghan colleagues, followed by the American colleagues needed to assure themselves that nobody would bring any explosives or hidden weapon. These security points were separate for men and women, as usually. American girls screened the Afghan women, far away, so that the men could really not see anything. The hospital itself was divided to parts for men and women too. Except our negotiations, presents with the logo ISAF (International Security and Assistance Forces) were distributed. The most popular – as usually – were the radios. The sophisticated construction of the radios is very interesting. Every receiver has (except the classical battery) also a solar charger and a kink for manual charging of the accumulator. Electricity is not available in all the places. We wanted to enable the Afghan public the access to information. As the allied forces control most of the receivers in this region, we have the chance to share information with a large number of people. During our discussion with the locals three hot topics came up – safety, healthcare and education. Nothing unusual, comparing to the other districts. All the ideas, requests, comments and complaints were recorded and we were preparing ourselves for departure. Around 2 p.m., the voice of a muezzin (server of the mosque who calls five times a day for prayers) started to call for prayers. The people started to disappear. Around 3 p.m. there were only a few children and youngsters around. In about an hour, nobody was in the surroundings. Time to leave came. The representative of local Shura, director and the staff of the hospital came to thank for the time we spent with them and the people of the district and expressed their wish for another similar event. It was only minutes before the helicopter came, so we thanked for the possibility of having us at this place in the presence of local people and went home. After a 30 minutes flight we landed at our base again.

March 8, 2010

The first Centipede patrol!! Together with the American colleagues, we set up early in the morning with the truck filled with Centipede packets, small presents and other material to the chosen village. Despite the fact that the whole action was pre-discussed with shura (the council of elderly), it would not be the Afghans, coming there and doing everything according to the plan… Nobody expected us in the village.
After about 30 minutes, we managed to get a person in charge and the event could start. Within a minute there were about 100 children around our cars, waiting for things to come. Our vehicles were accompanied by the local Afghan army. The Afghan soldiers helped, together with the interpreters, to keep everything under control and were a link between us and the Afghans. Some of the methods of treating children were a bit unconventional from the European point of view. The Afghan children do not differ much from our children. If they are not being watched by an adult, they get “wild”. Well, in a minute, a group of children was playing the play that could be called “hit a soldier with a stone”. At this moment, an old man with white hair and whiskers (probably a teacher) came and started to throw little stones on the children. The ones that were closest, he whisked with a wooden rod. We were both surprised and shocked with his educational methods and it was visible on our faces. But, in the end, he was successful in calming the children down.
Approximately 150 metres away from us, the distribution of the Centipede packets of food and other presents to local women started. According to our estimation, there were about 200 of them. Even though Silva and her American female colleagues (who could only get in touch with the women) tried their best, the distribution was a bit wild. The content of the Centipede packet was so attractive that even the women in burcas were pushing one another. But thanks to the organisational abilities of our girls, we managed to hand over the whole Centipede lot to the local women. The first Centipede project was very successful, really. The locals were very grateful for our interest and were asking if we were thinking about other projects in future. The representatives of the village thanked to us and our American colleagues and assured us that we were welcome any time in the village.

March 7, 2010
Today, we woke up into a white morning. Yesterday, very pleasant sun was shining and it was around 14°C, today there was snow and the temperature dropped to 5°C. Well, this belongs to the local colouring too… The snow did not last for long and in the afternoon, we could enjoy the warm sun again. In the late afternoon, our colleagues from the workshops and printing unit surprised us. In their free time, they made beautiful Centipede models in two sizes. With this, they contributed to our joint efforts. Thank you, boys!!

March 6, 2010

Food and material that were ordered on February 28 were delivered to our base. It will help to realise the first Centipede project of the 5 contingent of the Czech Army in Logar, at the occasion of the International Women’s Day. Time has come to stretch our tight CIMIC bodies that are being used to solve problems while sitting at the tables. However, I was surprised with our small group as within an hour the tone of material was moved to our storage. We sorted out the food and put it into nice plastic bags, so that the women would not have problems with getting it to their homes. The result of today is bags ready for distribution. Each contains 5 kg of sugar, 1 kg of tea, 5 litres of cooking oil. Compared to our original idea, we had to reduce the amount of the goods in order to be able to provide with the same goods the women of the other village near to our camp and so that more women could get presents from us. The idea of the whole thing is not to solve the shortage of food in the Afghan families, but to show that Czech soldiers and Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team really care.

March 4, 2010

Today, we have received a pleasant visitor. A representative of the Ministry of Sports of the Logar province came to visit us, after our previous invitation. The director used to be a professional boxer, took part in the Olympic Games and the last World Championship. He himself is very interested in our cooperation and support that we will be able to provide in the field of sports. In the same way as us, he can see the huge potential of his country mainly in children. He asked us to consider projects suggested by him, most of which deal with children. We welcomed this activity with great pleasure. During following meetings we will try to coordinate his requests and our possibilities.

March 2, 2010
Meetings with the civil part of our contingent go on. Our common aim is concentrating our strength in the same direction. Meanwhile, our colleagues from the civil team take care of long term projects, e.g. construction of various buildings, capacity building and building of infrastructure; our aim will be concentrating on Quick Impact Projects (QIP) - after discussing this with civil Province Reconstruction Team – to the regions chosen beforehand. Everybody agreed that we will concentrate on education and sports. Support of the Centipede schools and sports teams will be our priority.

February 28, 2010
The last day of our first calendar month here in Logar. Together with my American colleague Casey we planned the first Centipede project - International Women’s Day. Women of the whole world have been celebrating this day and becoming presents since 1910. In Afghanistan, the role of women is different from the one in Western world; that is why the situation is a bit more complicated. We have to be very careful while organising this event. After consulting shura (the council of elders) of one of the villages here, we decided to buy small presents for every woman in the village and we will hand them over with our American colleagues. Unlike our women who are pleased with flowers, the Afghan women are happy to receive anything practical they can use at home or for the family. That is why we made packets for about 200 local women, containing 10 kg of flour, 10 kg of sugar and 5 litres of oil. Over that, as a small courtesy present from the PRT (Provincial and reconstruction team),we added to every packet traditional local scarf. I will inform you about how it all went in following parts of my diary.
As the space for our stories is limited, I will be happy to answer all your questions on this e-mail address:

February 27, 2010
It is a birthday of our colleague Silva !! Happy birthday, Silva, may all your wishes come true. The other girls from the contingent made a birthday cake that we all ateit did not mind we had only one candle; they are difficult to get here.

February 25, 2010
Today, we officially started the work of our group. The previous days were a bit “organisational” as we had to accommodate all the members of our team into B-huts (small cabins), we got the equipment and weapons (without them it would not be possible to work here). Except working issues we got together with our US colleagues fro the Civil Affairs Team (parallel to Czech CIMIC) over a cup of Afghan tea. We discussed the possibilities of cooperation on future projects.

February 23, 2010
Hello!! At the beginning, allow me to say hallo to the whole Centipede family and introduce myself and my colleagues, who try to continue the work of Lada and her team. My name is Lukáš Kubíèek and for the next 6 months, I will be the chief of the CIMIC group. I will be responsible for the results of my whole group. I also will try, together with my colleagues, to identify and realise the Centipede projects. Other members of our team are Silva and Petra, girls who create great atmosphere in our team of boys and make our days here in Logar better. Other colleagues are Jakub, Pepa, Radim, Norbert and other Lukáš. Their task will be identifying and realising the projects behind the borders of our camp, in the field. Last but not least is Major Petr, who has a great experience from his previous work in Logar.
Today we also handed over with Lada the operational task officially… and by this also the command in the field of civil-army cooperation in Logar province. I would like to thank once again to Lada and her group for a perfect job they did here… for her patience and goodwill with explaining the system of work here to me.

Well, thank you, Lada, and wish you all the best in private and professional life !!

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