Thursday, October 21, 2010

5Afs for a Plastic Bag

With the kids from the Red Crescent Society (ICRC) orphanage/clinic/school
Work on our research project draws near its end. We have collected over 100 surveys from physicians and nurses; if you consider that the survey is 14 pages long, this is quite an accomplishment. We have also held focus groups at a majority of hospitals, both private and public, with doctors, nurses, technicians, and administrators. And we have personally visited (almost) every emergency room/department in Kabul. One of the mentioned focus groups was with the Minister of Public Health, Dr. Suraya Dalil two nights ago (we had previously spoken to the Deputy Minister, Dr. Sahar at the beginning of our trip and spoke about it in our second post "Tea with the Health Minister".)
Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics training with Dr. Goforth of Self Regional Healthcare
Though it will take months to sort through all the data we've collected, we are getting an idea for where we need to focus in the future. A most surprising trend we are hearing is the desire of the younger doctors for training. This includes access to the most current medical information. To this effect, one of our top priorities will be to establish access to online journals and review materials (such as Up To Date) for Afghan residents that have internet access. I am in the process of establishing a mailing list that is becoming quite extensive.

Given the proper conditions, including security, Afghans are capable of great deeds. We are inspiring people, and full of potential. Even after 3 decades of devastation, the loss of two generations, an 'improved' literacy rate of about 30%, and a national income that is a tiny fraction of the military budget, there is still a drive and initiative that is not only evident with the young physicians but also among the children that run to your car at traffic stops. There is an immense "survival culture" here and these kids are such sharp business men that they make a living on selling plastic grocery bags and given the challenge they can probably sell you sand at the beach. If any friends at home were expecting me to bring gifts back, know that I've been unwittingly coaxed out of all my money.

This kid above showed up at just the right time to sell me used plastic grocery bags for 5 Afs a piece. I had to add tip.

Today we learned another fact that is Afghanistan's claim to fame. Next time you buy a rose, with a warm sunny color that is meant to convey feelings less intense than its red counterpart, think of the gardens of Kabul.

The yellow rose had it's origins here.