Browsing articles by " Hameed"

Heading Back to Kabul

Oct 22, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  2 Comments

Today is my 11th day here in Bamyan. It’s 8:35 in the morn­ing and a beau­ti­ful day here. I have packed every­thing and sit­ting on my bed in my hotel room. I am leav­ing for the air­port in half an hour. When my col­league and I were com­ing to Bamyan we booked round trip tick­ets with Part­ners in Avi­a­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy (Pactec). They have flight to Bamyan on Sun­days and Wednes­days. The prob­lem is that I am going to par­tic­i­pate in an inno­va­tion lab in Islam­abad, Pak­istan. After I bought the round trip tick­ets for fly­ing back to Kabul on the 26th, I found out that my flight to Islam­abd is on the 24th from Kabul Inter­na­tional Air­port. I tried to change my flight with Pactec to Sun­day the 24th but I couldn’t do so. Then I met this lady from the Provin­cial Recon­struc­tion Team (PRT) here in Bamyan and she said that I show up at the airstrip today in about 30 min­utes to see if she could get my on an Embassy Air flight. It’s a funny way of fly­ing some­where. When I go to the dirt air­port of Bamyan, I need to talk to the pilot and tell him about my prob­lem and then they’ll decide whether I can get on it or not. I know it’s funny but if I get it it’ll be my first time in a heli­copter. If couldn’t get on this Embassy Air then I will have to take the dan­ger­ous road tomor­row to make it to my Islam­abad Inno­va­tion Lab on the flight the fol­low­ing day. Now I need to ask the hotel man­ager if I can bum a ride to the air­port which about 10 min­utes from my hotel. I hope I get on the heli­copter flight today. :)

From Bamyan with Love

Oct 21, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

This is a con­ve­nience store owner right across from Bamyan Uni­ver­sity. Drink­ing tea in his “Love” glass.

Fun with the Screamers at the City of Scream

Oct 19, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   culture  //  1 Comment

Last Fri­day, Una and I went to Shahr-e-Gholghola which means the city of scream in Dari. It’s a beau­ti­ful old city ruins on top of a hill with a won­der­ful view of the whole city of Bamyan. We hiked to the very top of the hill and met a fam­ily. An old man came to visit Shahr-e-Gholghola with his chil­dren. He was a police­man who was sta­tioned on top of this hill a few years ear­lier. Then on our way back down on the other side of the hill we came across a bunch of the cutest and very fun kids. They were all shep­herds who had left their sheep behind and came to run down the hill­side with me. The lit­tle kids were so tough that they ran down these really steep hill­sides that Una thought that I shouldn’t try to run on as an adult. The scream­ers showed us around and explained to us the dif­fer­ent parts of the Shahr-e-Gholghola. We explored some caves. We went into this one really deep and very dark cave where we couldn’t find the end of it. We saw a dead dog at one point and then made a U-turn and came out. They accom­pa­nied us all the way through to the end of the old city ruins. At the end the scream­ers asked us to bring them hard copies of the beau­ti­ful pho­tos that we took with them.

They had told us that they would be by that hill when­ever we come dur­ing the day. These kids take care of their sheep all day in a pas­ture by the hill and they never go home for lunch or any­thing. They have break­fasts and din­ner. They are all one team and very fun together. They play together, run together and lead their groups of sheep together. They were wear­ing too lit­tle clothes in this harsh sea­son in Bamyan. A cou­ple of day later, Una and I printed the pho­tos for them and took back to the city of screams where we had met and promised to meet again.
Una bought them a cou­ple of blan­kets to keep them warm when they are out in cold. She also brought them some juice and cook­ies. We came to the city of scream­ers with all the stuff. We couldn’t find the scream­ers. I screamed the scream­ers names in the city of screams. I found one of them and then a cou­ple of more. We gave them their pho­tos and every­thing and said good­bye until next time.

Shahr-e-Gholghola-The City of Screams

Oct 19, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  5 Comments

From the plaque:
Shahr-e-Gholghola (“City of Screams”) is a for­ti­fied urban site dat­ing from late Sas­san­ian (6th c. AD) through to the Ghorid period (12th-13th CC.). The citadel on this hill site was the heart of the Islamic city of Bamyan fol­low­ing the decline of Bud­dhism here from the 8th cen­tury AD.
Shahr-e-Gholghola is believed to have been destroyed by the Mon­gols under Genghis Khan, who invaded it in 1221 and mas­sa­cred all the inhab­i­tants. The site’s name is said to date from this massacre.

Presentation to BU Staff and the Students

Oct 16, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments


When my col­league­Una and I arrived in Bamyan Uni­ver­sity (BU here­after), we met with the deputy chan­cel­lor of the uni­ver­sity in the after­noon since the chan­cel­lor had been to Kabul for his health checkup. As I explained in my ear­lier blog, we did a needs assess­ment sur­vey of BU back in April of this year and then we were able to raise some funds for their inter­net, solar power and com­puter labs facil­i­ties. We arrived here on Octo­ber 12th, 2011. The fol­low­ing day, we pre­sented a more detailed overview of the fol­low­ing 10 days of train­ing and equip­ment instal­la­tion to the uni­ver­sity staff and the stu­dents. Since I am giv­ing a train­ing in the open source, Open­StreetMap and Crowdmap, I pre­sented a lit­tle infor­ma­tion about those two. Una is train­ing the uni­ver­sity stu­dents and some pro­fes­sors in social media. She talked about what she plans to teach the trainees. Today was the 16the and the sec­ond and last day of Open­StreetMap train­ing. I enjoyed teach­ing the stu­dents and pro­fes­sors to use smart phones to col­lect gps data and to work around Open­StreetMap. It’s 11:05 and as I am typ­ing I am sit­ting in the restau­rant of the hotel that I am stay­ing in (for bet­ter inter­net con­nec­tion) and Una is work­ing is putting fin­ish­ing touches to her pre­sen­ta­tion on social media train­ing for tomor­row. After 2 days of social media train­ing, I will have another 2 days of Crowdmap train­ing with the uni­ver­sity stu­dents and professors.

Inventory for Bamyan University

Oct 16, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  3 Comments


This is from Thurs­day at Bamyan Uni­ver­sity. We are mak­ing an inven­tory list for the equip­ment that we have brought with to the uni­ver­sity in our Bamyan Uni­ver­sity project (more details in my pre­vi­ous blog). Pro­fes­sors Joya and Motamid are help­ing me with it. Pro­fes­sor Joya has got his master’s degree in Edu­ca­tion and Lan­guage Learn­ing from Indi­ana Uni­ver­sity. I love work­ing with Bamyan Uni­ver­sity staff.


We were send­ing all these equip­ment from the cap­i­tal Kabul through Par­wan to Bamyan which has been a very dan­ger­ous way lately. There have been sev­eral kid­naps and rob­bing. I have a smart col­league who put all the 40 lap­tops and smart phones and inter­net modems in these metal trunks and locked them all. We rented part of this big Russ­ian truck that reg­u­larly makes trips to Kabul from Bamyan and brings back sup­plies to the stores of Bamyan Bazaar. They put all these trunks in the back of the truck under other sup­plies so that any poten­tial rob­bers on the way wouldn’t see it. Every­thing made it to the uni­ver­sity alright and before us.
We labeled all the lap­tops and the smart phones and recorded their ser­ial num­bers on a spread­sheet. I asked Pro­fes­sor Abidy, our main con­tact at the uni­ver­sity to get bat­ter­ies for the label maker. He brought the AAA Chi­nese bat­ter­ies with a brand name of SQMY which looks like Sony with the first glance. The life of the bat­ter­ies was from turn­ing the label maker on to typ­ing “A-1″ and press­ing print but­ton. They died. We had to walk to Bamyan main bazaar, about 10 min­utes from the cam­pus to get good qual­ity Energizers.

Kabul Attack Building

Oct 14, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments


One month ago less than a dozen of Tal­iban attacked Kabul city.
Look at all those bul­let marks on one of the build­ings that they hid in in the first photo. They were fir­ing out of this build­ing. This build­ing is still under con­struc­tion. It’s already very pop­u­lar all over the coun­try and world­wide. Nice name for the build­ing. Kab­u­lAt­tack Plaza! They don’t need to rename it or do fur­ther mar­ket­ing for it :-) . Here is an inter­est­ing link: Tal­iban and NATO-led forces engage in war of words on Twit­ter.

Watch Out! You are hiking in Afghanistan

Oct 12, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments


When you are hik­ing in Afghanistan, don’t always rely on the white painted rocks. You should use your own bomb deters, too. Una and I were hik­ing at this sup­pos­edly dem­ined area near the Bud­dha in Bamyan when we saw an unex­ploded bomb half buried in the dirt. Only the tail was stick­ing out and I almost almost stepped on it. It was twi­light and I gave the nearby police a shout. They didn’t bother to come at first. Then Una took off her yel­low sock and put it next to the bomb. Then we walked down to the police and told them about it. They said, “we’ll do some­thing about it tomorrow.”

This Time in Bamyan

Oct 12, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   university  //  2 Comments

Back in April of this year, my col­league, Una and I came to Bamyan for a needs assess­ment sur­vey at Bamyan Uni­ver­sity (here­after BU). The uni­ver­sity is located in the provin­cial cen­ter. The num­ber of stu­dents as per last April was over 1700. Its aca­d­e­mics are fac­ul­ties of Edu­ca­tion, Social Sci­ences, Agri­cul­ture, Geol­ogy. And fac­ul­ties of Com­puter Sci­ence, Jour­nal­ism and Health to open in 2012. We took a tour of BU’s old and new cam­puses. BU’s new cam­pus that was under con­struc­tion in our last trip is the most remote uni­ver­sity I have ever seen. My col­league vis­ited the girls’ dorm since I a man and not allowed into the girls’ dorm. Photo of ther­mal water heat­ing sys­tem at the girls’ dorm: I was impressed by the young and tal­ented fac­ulty mem­bers of the uni­ver­sity. They have been extremely help­ful and friendly. The aim of our visit was to assess the elec­tric­ity sit­u­a­tion at uni­ver­sity and then see how we could help. The uni­ver­sity has big gen­er­a­tors but the the donors who donated these gen­er­a­tors to them did not think about the fuel costs. One of the biggest chal­lenges for the uni­ver­sity is their fuel costs for the gen­er­a­tors. They have very lim­ited funds for it and they can’t run them more than four hours a day. They need to run the four com­puter labs they have for the uni­ver­sity stu­dents and the fac­ulty from at least 8am to 4pm. Insuf­fi­cient sup­ply of elec­tric­ity. Another mis­take that the pre­vi­ous donors have made is that they donated desk­top com­put­ers to them which require a lot of elec­tric­ity. In addi­tion to not­ing their elec­tric­ity prob­lems, we noticed that they needed more com­puter labs and inter­net for the over­whelm­ing num­ber of stu­dents. The new cam­pus had no com­puter lab or inter­net when we vis­ited. Another great chal­lenge of the uni­ver­sity was lack of local IT exper­tise. At the end of our 5-day sur­vey at BU, we shared our find­ings with our big bosses in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Luck­ily, they were able to fund two com­puter labs for the uni­ver­sity with a total of 40 energy effi­cient lap­tops, a com­plete solar sys­tem for the two com­puter labs and inter­net for one of the two labs. My col­league and I were also able to raise some money to finance two pro­fes­sors from Bamyan Uni­ver­sity and a few more peo­ple from other orga­ni­za­tions to attend a 2-week inten­sive train­ing on web­site man­age­ment in the cap­i­tal, Kabul which ended last Fri­day. Here we are again we arrived in Bamyan yes­ter­day morn­ing. We came here a few days ahead of the solar engi­neers to train the uni­ver­sity stu­dents and the staff in a bunch of tech tools, social media and map­ping tools and apps. There was also money bud­geted for 15 smart phones that we pur­chased in this project. It’s impor­tant for the stu­dents and the pro­fes­sors of social sci­ences depart­ment and oth­ers to learn how to use them when they are train­ing in social media and map­ping. We had a brief meet­ing with the deputy chan­cel­lor of BU late after­noon yes­ter­day and we’ll dis­cuss our sched­ule for the train­ing and an overview of the plan with them in more detail later this morn­ing. They will also help us to iden­tify stu­dents for the train­ing today. My awe­some col­league asked them to keep in mind gen­der bal­ance in iden­ti­fy­ing the trainees. They’ll be trained in four dif­fer­ent things: 1. Start­ing on the 16th, 2 days of Open­StreetMap train­ing which I will be giv­ing (Bamyan on OSM will hope­fully look like Jalal­abad on OSM one day). 2. Then 2 days of social media and blog­ging train­ing that Una will be giv­ing. 3. After that 2 days of train­ing in Crowdmap (an Ushahidi ini­ti­ated plat­form for dis­as­ter response and reports). 4. And finally when the solar engi­neers arrive on the 21st of Octo­ber, we’d like the trainees to be present there and see how they install the solar gear and the com­puter lab. It’s 2:45 in the morn­ing and I need to get some shut eye. But please look at the photo blog of Una about our yesterday’s won­der­ful trip: Transitionland.wordpress.com/back-to-bamiyan/

What is democracy?

Oct 10, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

I was in Dara-e-nur dis­trict of Nan­garhar yes­ter­day. It’s a very remote dis­trict in the mid­dle of nowhere. All moun­tains. I saw this guy who was rid­ing on his motor­cy­cle along with three other friends. I asked them, “why are you four peo­ple rid­ing on one motor­cy­cle?” They said, “it’s democ­racy.” You do what you want and feel like doing.

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