My flatmates gave me a copy of ‘Kabul Disco’ before I left for Afghanistan last week. It’s a hilarious graphic novel, and made a great goodbye present. It’s a ‘must read’ if you’ve been to Kabul. It turns out I’ve been five times now (I had to count to fill out my visa forms). But this time, I’m going to be here for two months.
My job here is to help set up an advocacy and communications unit for Save the Children, recruit and train someone, get the barebones of a strategy going and to think about how to launch our child survival campaign, EVERYONE, in this country. So, it’s unlikely that I’ll have the time to find out if there really is a Disco in this city. If you’ve read the book, by the way, no one’s heard of the restuarant Joie de Vivre.
My sense is that there isn’t much of a middle-class in Kabul. Millions of families have fled the war and those that are left are still ’emerging from the chaos’. They don’t seem to be a politically significant group. Yet, the number of media outlets here – private TV stations in particular – are growing. Someone must be watching them! Tapping the potential of the media to gain support for EVERYONE in this country is going to preoccupy me.
As is the business of lighting a bukhari! A bukhari is a drum shaped, wood-fire heater. It works like a dream even in temperatures that are fifteen or sixteen below. But only if you can light it, of course! Here’s my status update from FaceBook a few nights ago: “7.10 pm: fortieth attempt to stoke it up, embers nearly dead, splinters in both palms, and a near panic attack when the guard finally knocked on the door to fix it. ” You get the picture!
Tune in for more from Kabul – I’ve promised my friends I will blog more regularly from here to stay in touch!