Thursday, January 19, 2012


Summer 2011:  We are back in full swing of residency life. All the usual things occupy the mind; there is little time to reflect. It seems long ago that we were in Kabul this past summer, going with the intention of building on the groundwork for our future involvement but being faced with unfortunate tragedy that overshadowed the entire effort.

July was our scheduled return to Kabul. After months of preparation we had 3 major goals: 1)We had our data from the first Emergency Medicine project was pressed out into over 500 pages with set plans to revisit the topic with the Ministry of Health and take the next steps. 2) Both of us had clinical work planned in two area hospitals. and (3) with much enthusiasm we were sponsored for another project to use a Primary Care Assessment Tool (after discussion and approval from the late Dr. Barbara Starfield) to look at the field of Primary Care in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, we put into motion another promise we had made. Last year I had mentioned in the post "The Legacy of Avicenna" what an impression the Ibn Sina hospital had made and why we thought it deserved special attention. We petitioned our local Medical Societies (Thank you Saginaw, Michigan and wonderful people at CRXSP!) to donate medical supplies for us to take to Ibn Sina. MedShare--a nonprofit from San Francisco-- donated a trailer packed full of supplies that I personally hand picked (no joke). Unfortunately, they never left port...

3 days before we were scheduled to leave for Afghanistan, the hotel where we had made reservations, the Intercontinental came under attack. Click here for the full story. We had family staying at the hotel the night of the attack. After a sleepless night, a crushing worst-case scenario was unfolding. We took the first flight out of Detroit the next day and found ourselves in an all out battle of survival in one of the worst security situations in Afghanistan.

...But  that story for another day when we get the okay; that story deserves undivided attention...

In light of this future story that you will hear, we nevertheless did achieve some degree of stability. With mixed emotions and fear in our hearts we decided to continue our work. Except we had to agree to no emails, no status updates, no sight seeing. Just very low key maneuvering. Given the circumstances, we did more than we thought we could.

a video collage of this trip

Mid-August is when we returned to Michigan. Since then we have presented our work on Afghanistan on both national and international scenes--San Francisco and Montreal, Canada (update and pictures to follow soon!); data for our second project is complete; and we are looking forward to our last year in Michigan (با خیر, as my mother would say.)

The events at the Intercontinental had unintended victims well beyond it's immediate vicinity. I can't say it didn't influence our perspectives. In mid-August, we had doubts about continuing with this project and we did some serious soul searching. But as time allows thoughts to settle, a sense of impatience creeps in; a sense of urgency. In today's Afghanistan, instead of us ending our work, we realize we need more like us to commit.

This video alone is responsible to the last two weeks of delay. Practice makes perfect... let me know what you think.