Browsing articles by " Hameed"

Car wash in Jalalabad

Oct 8, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Gen­er­ally, there are two types of car washes in Jalal­abad: 1. fancy and expen­sive that com­man­ders, et. al. use and 2. river and stream sides located ones that use a small gen­nie to pump water and hose down cars.

Below is a hand pres­sure pump that is used to splash oil under the car so that it doesn’t get rusty. Most of the cars that we use in Afghanistan are used cars that get dumped here after they are first used in Canada, the U.S. or Japan mainly. Their bot­toms are really rusty after they were used in those coun­tries in snow and salt on snow.

I am nei­ther a com­man­der nor the son of a com­man­der so I usu­ally use the lat­ter.

A Joyful Weekend at Sweating Man

Oct 8, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments

My brother, Idris, Rah­mat and I went to the Jalala­good Sweat­ing Man last week­end.
Then we played Khu­sai, the one footed Afghan game. It was so much fun that I for­got to take any pho­tos. There was a flood a cou­ple of days ear­lier and the water in Behsood River was all very gray because of the floods, etc. This fish­er­man was try­ing to catch fish. He caught a few fish that were lit­er­ally the size of his mid­dle fin­ger. He was so happy with that. Three other friends and fam­ily mem­bers were wait­ing for him and hold­ing the fish the he had caught.

Our car got stuck in wet sand. We asked a small Suzuki car to pull it back and get it out. It slipped and had to get the Suzuki out. It was smaller than my Toy­ota Corolla. We put the jack under the car and a lot of rock under the tires then tried to go reverse. It worked. I enjoyed get­ting our car out of the sink­ing sand.

Water Tank

Oct 6, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Funny water tank on top of a house. This fam­ily lives 20 kilo­me­ters south of Jalal­abad city and they have enmity with Tal­iban. Tal­iban killed a mem­ber of this fam­ily and then they went and killed sev­eral Tal­iban to take revenge. The fam­ily is always vig­i­lant. They guard their house with their AK47s 24/7. It’s funny that they have this flashy red water tank. There is another house in Jalal­abad that has a water tower in the shape of an old Rus­sia jeep.

A few Moments with Baba Jan

Sep 23, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  7 Comments

This is Baba Jan in the beau­ti­ful dis­trict of Kama. I was out with my map­ping team when we met him. We were pass­ing by his hut he gave us a shout and offered us water­melon. We stopped and sat down with him. He asked us to wait for him to fin­ish his hash. “I enjoy the con­ver­sa­tion then,” he said. Baba Jan has a small store right across from his hut which is run by his 9-year-old daugh­ter. He hard ever leaves his kut, the bed in the hut. He is a very hos­pitable per­son. There are always a bunch of young­sters sit­ting around him and he tells them tales of his youth. He asked what brought us to their place and we told him about our map­ping project on the open source site of Open­StreetMap. I told him about our endeavor to map the whole province for human­i­tar­ian and edu­ca­tion pur­poses. He was happy and offered to show us around next time we were in town. At the end I asked him for his phone num­ber to visit him next time. He did not have a phone. Funny story how Baba Jan gives hash to a mem­ber of his gang in return for every phone call he makes from his phone.

Addresses in Afghanistan

Sep 22, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  6 Comments

Nor­mally, in Afghanistan we don’t have street names and street num­bers. There are some streets and almost all towns with names. Funny story how streets and some towns are named but before that: I was dri­ving out­side Jalal­abad city the other day and I needed direc­tions to a friend’s house. I asked a cou­ple of famers with their shov­els on their shoul­ders for direc­tions to a friend’s house in the area. In rural areas where peo­ple live in small towns and closely con­nected vil­lages every­body knows every­body. Even if they live in two geo­graph­i­cally dif­fer­ent vil­lages they will tell you where every­body lives. This man went on and on about the direc­tions. It got so con­fus­ing and I closed my eyes try­ing to nav­i­gate but it didn’t work. He named so many dif­fer­ent col­ors of gates and doors, big and small trees, rights and lefts, nears and behinds, and Ara­bic names of mosques. I apol­o­gized and I had him repeat the direc­tions furtively turn­ing my phone voice recorder on. There was no way I could’ve found the place with­out lis­ten­ing to that record­ing all the way to his door. It’s funny how some streets and some towns are named after some­one promi­nent, rich, or noto­ri­ous who lives on the street. For exam­ple, the street behind ours is called, “Mul­tan Kaka Kosa”. Mean­ing Uncle Mul­tan Street. It was named after the noto­ri­ous fighter, Mul­tan who has been in a phys­i­cal fight or argu­ment at least once with almost every­one in the neigh­bor­hood. Our street, da sarafano kosa, mean­ing the money exchang­ers street, was named after this wealthy sup­pos­edly “money exchanger” who was a night shift drug dealer. Though the “money exchanger” no longer lives in the neigh­bor­hood, it’s still called the money exchang­ers street.

International Day of Peace

Sep 21, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Every­day when I go to work, my mom tells me, “Have a good day, son.” Today was dif­fer­ent. When I was say­ing good­bye to her this morn­ing she came to the gate with me and said, “Be care­ful, OK?” Just go to you office and come back straight home, she said. Sep­tem­ber 21st was like any other day nor­mal day in Jalal­abad. Most of the time, when there is a national or inter­na­tional day of cel­e­bra­tion and there are offi­cials giv­ing talks and mes­sages, it turns into a tragedy. Some­times, I think we make this day of peace, love and har­mony more dan­ger prone by our­selves by cel­e­brat­ing it with our so called “offi­cials” and “lead­ers”. The Inter­na­tional Day of Peace is a day that all human beings around the world can be in a state of mind with peace, love and a smile on their face with absolute lack of vio­lence. Peo­ple cel­e­brate this day with their loved ones and like-minded peo­ple get together and cel­e­brate it in their own way. There is no need for rib­bon cut­ting and talks and mes­sages from “peace lead­ers”, et. al. The UN has declared this day as a day of ces­sa­tion of all hos­til­i­ties among all indi­vid­u­als, groups, and nations. Unfor­tu­nately, we still hear news of killings and explo­sions and sui­cides on this day of peace. Mahatma Gandhi teaches in one of his top teach­ings for bring­ing about world peace: “Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of pun­ish­ment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thou­sand times more effec­tive and per­ma­nent than the one derived from fear of pun­ish­ment.” Let’s pay respect and salute to all of those peo­ple who have made (and are mak­ing) efforts to bring about world peace.

Government aid too late

Sep 19, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  2 Comments

A cou­ple of weeks ago my col­leagues and I went to Kama dis­trict for gath­er­ing data for map­ping the area on the open source map­ping site, Open Street Map, we came across a team of the gov­ern­ment aid dis­trib­u­tors. They were dis­trib­ut­ing mos­quito nets. Now that the sum­mer sea­son is over and there will be almost no mos­quito any­more, these peo­ple don’t need these nets this year. “We will keep them for next year”, said one of the locals. This is very poor planning.

Thankfully my Brother Got Hit by a Car

Sep 19, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  10 Comments

My lit­tle brother, Imran was rid­ing on his bicy­cle to school yes­ter­day. He got hit by a car from the back. Imran’s back­pack which had a bro­ken zip­per was on his back. When he got hit, his back­pack fell to the ground and all his books got scat­tered all around in the mid­dle of the road. Imran got up unscathed and started pick­ing up his books to put back in his back­pack. Sud­denly, he saw a big scor­pion with its tail arched com­ing out of his unzipped back­pack. He took out his shoe and squished it to the ground. Had he not hit by the car that scor­pion inside his bag could have stung him or another stu­dent in his car­pet class­room in school.

Tech Tools and Skills for Emergency Management

Sep 9, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

Together with my col­league, Una Moore, I am tak­ing an online course on Tech Tools and Skills for Emer­gency Man­age­ment at TechChange Insti­tute for Social Change: http://techchange.org/. It’s a 3-week course and today is the last day of week 1. It’s my first online course ever and Una is help­ing me a lot with how it works and the course mate­ri­als too. Yes­ter­day evening, we took turns and read aloud the first week course mate­ri­als at a French restau­rant in Kabul, Le Bistro. We are at Le Bistro again today doing our home work for the class. I am so glad that she is in Afghanistan while we are both tak­ing this course together.
My 45 class­mates come from a lot of dif­fer­ent coun­tries. This mix would be very good for shar­ing ideas and expe­ri­ences through­out the course.

New Computer lab in Khogyani

Sep 3, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  4 Comments

About five months ago, my col­league, Noor and I set up a com­puter and Eng­lish lan­guage train­ing lab in Kaga, Khogyani. Kaga is about 35 kilo­me­ters south west of Jalal­abad city. It has a small main bazaar which is basi­cally all on a one-hundred-meter long street. There are many small and sparsely located vil­lages all around the main bazaar. It’s a beau­ti­ful place with a lot of snow in win­ter and cool weather in sum­mer.
We went there back in April and set up a lab with five lap­tops, a printer and some Eng­lish lan­guage mate­ri­als. We also set up a small solar power sys­tem for the com­puter lab which included four solar pan­els, four car bat­ter­ies, charge con­trollers and power invert­ers. When we were set­ting up this com­puter lab we trained a poten­tial stu­dent, Hadi on the solar power and com­puter setup struc­ture so that he can trou­bleshoot any poten­tial prob­lems by him­self. Last week, I went to Kaga to check on the com­puter lab and every­thing and I was very impressed by how sus­tain­able and well func­tion­ing the learn­ing cen­ter had been for the past five months.
Approx­i­mately, three hun­dred stu­dents are learn­ing com­puter skills and Eng­lish lan­guage in this small cen­ter. It’s got 8 computer/ Eng­lish lan­guage train­ers, a man­ager and a guard/cleaner. One of the stu­dents, Hadi, who got a lit­tle train­ing when we were set­ting up the lab, vol­un­teers to help with tech­ni­cal and IT prob­lems. It’s dif­fi­cult to bring some­one from Jalal­abad every time they need tech­ni­cal sup­port.
Not all of these stu­dents are tak­ing com­puter classes right from the begin­ning. For com­puter pro­grams train­ing some knowl­edge of the Eng­lish lan­guage is required. Begin­ner stu­dents have to take two months of Eng­lish lan­guage train­ing before they can be accepted in com­puter course.However, some stu­dents join the train­ing cen­ter with a lit­tle prior knowl­edge of the com­puter lan­guage. The train­ers will place them both in com­puter and in Eng­lish lan­guage classes right from the begin­ning. In each of their Eng­lish classes there are about 30 stu­dents and they all sit in car­pet class­rooms.
As many vil­lages are sparsely located in Kaga, some stu­dents walk 30 kilo­me­ters every­day to attend their classes in this cen­ter. Shamshad is a nine-year-old begin­ner stu­dent who walks a long way together with his older brother and cousins to come here. He says, “I want to learn com­puter skills and Eng­lish lan­guage and work in an inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tion some day.” Com­ing to the cen­ter for his Eng­lish class is his favorite to do of every day. “I like my teach­ers”, he says.

Under Taliban’s regime and before that, a family’s strength and pros­per­ity here was judged by the num­ber of sons one had. Peo­ple fought over land and water a lot more often. They would train their sons to use a gun at a very young age for poten­tial fam­ily fights/enmities. Those who did not have a son would train their daugh­ters to use guns but that would be use­ful indoors only as women are not allowed to go out many peo­ple had very strict and tra­di­tional views about women’s rights here. They thought that women should not go out. If they. If they had to do so, they would have to wear ‘Islamic dress’ so that they are com­pletely cov­ered. This tra­di­tion is chang­ing now and more and more fam­i­lies send their daugh­ter to school. The per­son who runs this cen­ter is a for­mer Afghan MP and he plans to start sim­i­lar edu­ca­tional pro­grams for women at this cen­ter If a fam­ily had no son they would be con­sid­ered weak. This sex­ual prej­u­dice seems to be chang­ing rapidly. It’s no longer about the quan­tity of your chil­dren; it’s about the qual­ity – get­ting good edu­ca­tion and a decent job.
It’s a Taliban-infested area and a lot of peo­ple here used to sup­port Tal­iban. Now Tal­iban is los­ing their sup­port as peo­ple see it as a dead-end busi­ness. Shamshad and hun­dreds of other chil­dren like him are busy learn­ing at this learn­ing cen­ter as an after/before school activ­ity. They come here with a lot of enthu­si­asm. They seem to be get­ting what they want and there is a lot of hope that they will make it there and they will have a bright future.

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