Life as a FET 2

By Sgt T. Wilson

We have had some interesting experience since I last wrote. We had to go console the family of a village elder that was killed hours prior. It was extremely sad.
I was really nervous. This was the same house I made bread, so we had been there before and started to establish a relationship with them. We knew the boys really well because we have been to the school many times. But I was afraid they blamed us for his death. Its hard enough to comfort someone after a loss when your close to them, so trying to say the right thing to someone who is of a different culture, different language, and you only barely know I thought it was going to be tough. The 11-year-old daughter was the only witness and as soon as she saw us she started spilling the story…its like she needed to tell it.

In Afghanistan, this area anyway, they don’t have funeral homes, so they have to bury the body right away. And they don’t bury them under the ground. We have walked through one of their graveyards and there are people shaped mounds of rocks and dirt everywhere. They decorate the graves with long sticks with different color pieces of cloth. I know its hard to picture. The women do not get to go to the burial. So when we arrived at the house to consul the family it was just the women there. We went in the house and there were 20 women all dressed in black gathered together sitting on the floor. I have never seen so many women here in the same place. We sat down in front of them and they all crowded around and we did our best to offer condolences. I told them I was sorry for their lose and if there was anything they needed let us know. My linguist said a prayer from the Koran. The eldest daughter who is in her 20s had tears rolling down her face. I barely knew the guy but seeing the women in so much pain, I had trouble trying not to cry too. I know very un-Marine of me : ) They asked if we would come back though so I took that as a good sign.

Last week we (the FET) got called to the front gate. They said they needed us. It turns out there was this little girl..probably 8…who had been struck in the head with a large rock by another kid. She was  sitting on the table where Doc treats the Afghans and she was covered in blood.
She looked scared but she also calm. She would answer the male linguist, but when Zeba (my linguist) and I got there she finally talked, so Doc could do his assessment. We cleaned her up and found some clothes to change her into. They ended up medivac-ing her to a larger base with a hospital, in case she internal bleeding or something like that. I don’t remember the official term : ) Zeba is a nurse in the U.S. so she was able to help a lot with the medical stuff. What really struck me was that the whole time she did not cry once. She was surrounded by strangers who do not really speak her language, covered in blood, in pain, but she did not cry once. I couldn’t believe her strength. We told her how brave she was, gave her a little stuffed animal to take with her and one of the Marines carried her out to the helicopter. It turned out she didn’t have any major injuries just a really bad concussion.

Besides that we have been doing a lot of the same. Going out on patrols, going into the homes of the locals and trying to talk to the women. No matter how much I try to reason with myself it still gets to me that the women, usually the older women more so, don’t think there opinion has any value. We asked them if they want to send their daughters to school and they said, “I’m just a women it doesn’t matter what I think…you should ask my husband.” I try to tell them that I care what they think and that it does matter. Just to maybe plant a tiny seed of change in their minds. I’m not expecting to change their culture and really were not here to do that. We’re here to give them a voice, learn their concerns, and do what we can to improve there lives. But it still gets to me…

Today we went back to the home of the man who was killed I talked about earlier. I think we had the best conversation we have had so far. It was more real and honest then the women normally get. You see..although they talk to us, you can tell there always holding back. Today there was no holding back.   They said one of their sons was told “if you go to school we will cut your head off” after we were at the school that very day handing out supplies. How brave is that kid to still go to school!!! But hearing things like this affects me so much. I can’t help it. Is there such a thing as caring too much? The women also said today…”do you think I want to marry off my 10-year-old daughter, no I do not, but we know we can not provide for her and feel we have no other choice.”
There were fun moments too. They wanted to know if in America the men have to pay money to the brides family like they do here to get married. So we tried to explain that in American you meet someone and you fall in love and then you eventually get married. They were amused at this. They asked if it is the man or woman who falls in love. When we told them both it was a surprise to them. They asked if I had meet someone who I loved yet : ) I said not yet, hopefully someday. The one women said..don’t get married, men are a hassle lol. They had a lot of questions for us today…which makes it interesting. They asked if it would offended us if they call us “Americans.” We told them no, but I’m still trying to figure out why they would think it would be offensive. : ) One of the women tried to give me her baby. No joke. She said take him, he will make you happy.
I don’t know if I mentioned it before but mice are invading our tent. We have caught two so far..and theres still more. They like to haunt us at
night…creeping around! : )
 I guess that’s all for now! Hope you are all doing well. Love to hear how your lives are going too!

Tiff Wilson
P.S. I still have not fallen in a Canal…Canals 0 Me 10 : )