Sunday, August 31, 2008

Begging for a Share...

This closes out August. If I didn’t take another picture, I’d have enough material to keep me going every day. Unfortunately, as our power is very iffy right now, I’m having a little trouble keeping up. Sometimes when the power is working, the Internet is not. We are actually far better off than most Kabulis. Most people on the city grid get five to six hours of power as infrequently as every other day in some neighborhoods. We have two generators that supply the two safe houses on our block. What is supposed to happen is that when one goes down (out of fuel, overheating, maintenance), the other is supposed to kick in automatically. Well, the automatic bit no longer works for two reasons: the fail-over is broken and the second generator is broken too. So, when the only remaining generator dies as it has been dead for the last 36 hours, we are out of power, out of water and out of Internet. The water bit is actually the most troublesome since it means we can’t flush the toilets. It’s almost relief to go to work where there is power, water and Internet.

So, here’s the latest installment. Don’t worry Ello, I’ll put up some food pictures later this week.

The Russians were here!
This is a Soviet BMP hulk (armored personnel carrier).
You see military vehicle wreckage scattered about town and in the countryside.

Old Town bakery.
Note the drainage ditches leading from the door to the street.

The woman is wearing a burkha, but she's raised the veil.
This is not uncommon, particularly when the women are nearer to home,
but you also see it when they are shopping at the bazaar.

The next few pictures highlight the plight of women, particularly widows, and the disabled and elderly. However, it should be noted that there are "professional" beggars out there along with the truly needy. It is difficult to sort them out. The only beggars that you can be certain of are the ones missing limbs (there's a lot of those)...pretty hard to fake that.

There is no social safety net.
If a woman's husband dies and one of his male relatives does not marry her and if she doesn't have family that will take her back, she's on the street. What makes things worse is that the vast majority of adult women have no education and no marketable skills. Even some with skills wind up on the street if they can't find someone to care for the children.

Men with disabilities are equally at risk.

And of course, the elderly.
But this guy is likely my age, possibly younger.
The male life expectancy in Afghanistan is 43.6 years.
Female life expectancy is only slightly better at 43.96 years.


Vodka Mom said...

thank you, thank you, thank you - for taking me on this journey. PLEASE DON'T STOP. and, of course, be safe...

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, what damage has been done to that society. very sad about the women.

preTzel said...

It makes me want to cry. How sad for those women and the disabled men. :(

Barbara Martin said...

How sad for them. Thank you for posting this insight into how people live in Kabul. Take care and keep yourself safe.

Reb said...

Wow, that is quite the post. Thank you again for sharing your photos of this other side of life. Keep safe.

John Maszka said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tazeen said...

Such sad pictures ...

sex scenes at starbucks said...

But hopeful, too. Seeing a woman's face bared in Kabul without fear of admonition or worse...that's worth the price of admission right there.

The Muse said...

Those are striking J.L! I can't believe they're sitting right in the street. I guess that's so they will get noticed better?

Those life expectancies...Wow. I would have never known.

I hope you had a good weekend. Did you get Labor Day off? Or at least some BBQ in the mess hall?

Looking forward to your next post. Have a good day!

J. L. Krueger said...

Vodka Mom,

Thank you for stopping by again. Don't worry, I don't intend to stop.


Thirty years of's amazing that things aren't worse.


Let me tell you though...they zero in on vehicles occupied by "gringos" because we tend to be an easier mark.


Thanks. Kabul is a never-ending education.


Thanks for coming by again. Honestly though I'm starting to get swamped cataloging the pictures.


Those weren't the worst pictures.


I've got a burkha/no burkha theme coming up...stay tuned.


I'm amazed that they don't get run over. Road is very pot-holed and rough and the vehicles sometimes swing suddenly and wildly from one side of the road to the other. And yet the women sit there as if confident that no one will run them over.

On life expectancy...a woman who has six children (the average) can expect two to grow to adulthood.


The deleted comment was a five-page diatribe about Bush and America's evil policies. Not appropriate for this blog, but I may post that one on Complex Topics.

Ello said...

THat is so terrible. I feel heartbroken about the plight of women there. Things have to change for them. I don't know how but they must.