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Every little bit helps

FOB Shank | Day 33 – When times are slow, and missions fall through, I always have our 30 Day visitors to fall back on. In many ways I prefer taking your questions and directly answering them because I know that’s exactly what you all want to hear and learn about versus what I’m seeing and bringing to you. I love that aspect of this project.

So our plans have fallen through today leaving me with another opportunity to address your questions and ideas I remember one person asking on the forums about how everyday people can help Afghanistan. I had addressed this is a previous blog, but I want to touch on the subject again because I learned one 30 Days participant is really helping, more on him later. 

ISAF isn’t the only organization in Afghanistan. There are a ton of international aid organizations and non-governmental organizations here helping. If you search the internet for “Afghanistan NGOs” you can find a bunch of them. I know one of the keys to success in this country is “unity of effort” I’ve heard throughout our 30Days, when people talk of NGOs, this unity and cooperation is critical to success here. I believe there are elements of cooperation, but overall it needs some work and there are people out there working on it.

Another way is through programs like Alan Krutchkoff’s. He’s one of our most active members and runs a program called Adopt a Soldier Platoon. The name correctly implying whole units of soldiers are adopted, but the program also collects and organizes donations for the Afghan people. When I talked with him one day over Facebook, one of his proudest projects was the donation of 60 cartons of school supplies, clothing and toys for Afghan children. They sent all of these supplies to the U.S. Marines. I hope, for counter insurgencies sake, the Marines gave the supplies to the Afghan National Army or Police for distribution, because given them the opportunity to distribute them to the people would go a long way towards building positive relationships.

 Also, I think one of the biggest ways of helping Afghanistan is to simply understand what’s happening here. The key to learning is more than watching one news channel, but watching and reading a bunch of different sources. Don’t follow our 30 Days project and feel it’s enough. While Ken and I are doing our best to cover as much as we can, we’re only covering a very small part of the story. Read books, read history and watch documentaries. Then, take that education and understanding and openly discuss Afghanistan amongst your communities, whether you agree with the mission or not. All sides are not only appreciated, but necessary to all of our free countries.

I love the fact many people don’t agree with the mission here, its freedom. We may hold views and opinions that differ from one another, but as long as they’re founded in intelligence and maturity and not in shallow-mindedness and stupidity, they’re welcome at the table of open discussion.

What ISAF and the Afghan government is doing may not be absolutely perfect, but I believe they are doing the best they can while dealing with all the complexities or world politics, military culture, local history and culture. Support the cause or not, educated debate is healthy and necessary for all of us.

Now that 30 Days is starting to cool down and we have only two more posts after this, I hope this project has opened your eyes a little bit about Afghanistan and has given you a few more tools and ideas for you to use to formulate your own educated opinions on the counter insurgency here.

If, after further researching and learning, Afghanistan touches your heart as much as it has mine and you decide to help, please keep the NGOs and programs like Alan’s in mind, because every little bit helps.

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