Sgt T. Wilson is part of the Female Engangement Team (FET) in Afghanistan.
Its been almost two weeks since we started doing the job of the Female Engagement Team and I have already seen enough to greatful 10x over for all we have in the U.S. Life is so different for the people here. I’ll try to give you a little picture of what it is like here. First, the imagine not having access to a doctor if you get sick or medicine for that matter. There is no drug store for even the simplest things, like tylenol. Everyone we talk to have some health issue and they all think that we can somehow cure them. Its the first and the last thing the women want to talk us about. We met one women, in her 60’s. Thats another thing, they do not know there ages here. When we ask we usually get answers like, “oh I’m 16 or 17, maybe 18.” sometimes they just say I dont know. Sometimes they will be like I’m probably 30, and then one of the siblings will chime in, no your at least 35. But anyways, this women, I’m guessing is in her 60’s, was missing an eye and in pain because it got infected and the infection spread to her throat. Her son came and found us and asked us to see her, because he thought we could do something. Its heartbreaking knowing that they believe that we can help them but really we can’t. We tell them to come to the base, but the women rarely leave the house so its not likely they will come. We hand out minor meds, like eyedrops or pepto bismo or tylenol, but thats only because our linguist also happens to be a trained nurse in the U.S. And we have ran out of pretty much everything. So no access to health care in this area.
The children run around alone all the time. Walking down the street alone. Sometimes carting around a toddler. Working in the fields alone or tending to the sheep alone. The ones that go to school do so alone. There is no dropping off your children to school or having the school bus pick them up here. I wish there was a school bus, because they all say its to far to send there female children to school. And a lot of the kids walk around with no shoes, especially the younger
ones. And many times they walk down gravel roads or through canals and cornfields. It will be winter soon and we are told they will be wearing the same
thing then that they do now. It gets cold here and they have no winter coats.
A great majority of them do not have electricity or plumming. There are not flushing toilets or showers for the most part. Most in this area are farmers.
They have hard lifes. Working for every little thing they have and selling whatever they can for extra money.
The schools in this area are only for boys. Only the boys are allowed be photographed and many times when we speak to the women at least one male is present, even its a 10 year old son. The school that we sometimes visit has a 18 year old with a 7th grade education teaching. There are 13 to 17 year olds that are considered 5th graders. it only goes to 5th grade. The dont have much access to pens, pencils, books, or notebooks. Most of there supplies were given to them by the FET.
There doorways are very small too. Lcpl Frank, my partner here, was trying to walk through a doorway. She was following a short person who didnt have to dunk…and so she didnt either and she slamed her face right into the compound wall. We call their homes compounds, because they have 6 or 7 foot walls all in a square. When you enter its an open courtyard with rooms located off of it. Ill try and take a picture so you get a better idea of what i mean.
I could go on and on….
On the patrols we always have to jump a canal or two. I have yet to fall in one, but someone always does. It adds a little comic relef to an
otherwise serious situation ; )
We the Marines, have pretty much all we need. Besides some snacks…If you want to send anything for us to hand out to the afghans that would be great. Candy, you know kids and candy, old winter coats, crocks (the shoes) in small sizes, any old shoes you dont want anymore, vitamins for women, tylenol and things like that, school supplies, hygiene stuff (small bottles of shampoo and conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, chapstick, lotion). )
I really love what I’m doing. And although at times it is hard, physically and mentally, it all seems worth it to know we may be doing some good. I hope you all are well. Its still in the 90’s most days here, but the rainy season is just around the corner!