Ken in Kabul II

Afghanistan

 

On Monday of this week I heard the reporter announcing that there had been a terrorist attack in Kabul at the Center for anti-terrorist something or other. My heart just about stopped because I knew Ken was staying Kabul, but I was not sure how close he was living too the bomb site. My first reaction was to say a Hail Mary for him and everyone near the bomb site. After a bit I calmed down and was able to put it out of my mind. Then came Ken’s email and I started all over again!!  Here is his account of the events in Kabul.

 

Kabul (1/21/2013) — Early this morning, as many Afghans were setting out for work, the Taliban struck near our apartment. From what we have been able to gather, through the radio and from a friend living near the site of the attack, a suicide bomber and three gunmen began their mission in the predawn darkness around 5:30 am. The bomber blew out the main doors to the Center, the armed men following close in their wake, firing their guns as they came. We are not yet aware of any deaths or injuries. Two of the Afghan Peace Volunteers heard the explosion. A woman from the neighborhood who, along with her daughter, has been severely traumatized by war, also came to inform us of the explosion.

 

The young men living here were quick to discuss the attack. Faiz, whose friend sells potatoes from a cart and lives near the Center, said, “I cannot trust my life to the future.” No matter how hard they study, what plans they make for their tomorrows, a single shot, just one explosion, could shatter their dreams forever.

The Taliban has two motives for attacks such as this. The first, and perhaps not the primary reason, is to inflict death, injuries, and destruction. The second is to make the neighborhood live in fear. And it does. When a person is afraid for his life and the lives of his children, he hunkers down and shows a low profile, hoping to stay out of the line of fire. He does not protest; he does not speak out. He just wants to survive.

 

The afternoon, we will all discuss the attack. Our apartment has no armed guard, as many do, and our doors do not lock. My initial impression is that the young men desire to stay. My commitment to living with the Volunteers is unwavering; the only thing that will alter these plans is if the young men feel my presence might bring them a greater chance of being hurt. Should they feel this, I will move to another location for a while

.

Pat Driscoll and Kathy and Walter Doyle, speak constantly of ours being a work of faith. I have faith that there is a better day dawning for Afghanistan and that fear will never drive us out. For this we should pray; for this we should work.

 

Love to all,

 

Ken

 

It is hard to imagine just what Ken is seeing as real. It is so far from my everyday lives that I find it very difficult to believe that people, just like you and I are living in these conditions and the “world” seems to just hum along as if there was nothing wrong. Why aren’t in the streets protesting the treatment of these people who have been hijacked by evil? Have we gone to sleep? Have we become so hard hearted that we no long are able to feel the slightest twinge of compassion? We do need to speak out. We do need to pray for Afghanistan that the Lord will bless it with peace and justice.

Ken in Kabul

I received this email from Ken Ricardi who is a friend and fellow Urban Missionary of Our Lady of Hope, on January 11, 2013. Needless to say it was with great joy and interest that I read his letter. We had said good-bye to Ken on January 3rd after our weekly prayer and staff meeting here at Our Lady of Hope Center. We had said a prayer for Ken’s safety and success for his time in Afghanistan because he would be leaving on Sunday, January 5th.

 

I have included his complete email here for you to read. My hope is that it will inform, entertain and stretch your world experience as it has mine.

 

Dear Relatives, Friends and Hangers-On,

 

I’m sorry I’ve not as yet written to say hello, but our apartment is quite a distance from a site where internet is available.

I arrived in Kabul extremely safely and soundly on Tuesday (January 8th) morning. The temperature was about average for this time of year (19 F). The sky was completely overcast, resulting in a visible film of pollution caused by auto emissions, burning firewood, and coal. Additionally, some of the poor who can’t afford wood have taken to burning scraps of plastic, which brings on health concerns and an addition to the pollution. The weather has warmed up these past days, so that the many dirt streets, heretofore ruts of frozen dirt, have become seas of mud. Walking is incredibly messy.

I’ve been doing work with the rest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV). On Wednesday, we climbed one of Kabul’s steep mountains, covered with mud homes, in search of very poor families. To each family we gave a paper stamped with the “Blue Scarf’ of the APV. We took their phone number (Everyone has a cell, since land lines are virtually nonexistent.) and the number of people in each family. (Each of the families we met, numbering from six to thirteen members, lived in one-room apartments.) On Thursday evening, one of the young men in the group called each family and ask them to send a representative to our local mosque today, Friday, the Holy Day. We gave each family a home-made duvet made by the seamstresses working at the Duvet Project, for each family member. Today alone we gave away away 262 duvets! Each duvet costs the seamstresses – funded by the APV – roughly $20.00 to produce. So today we gave away roughly $5240.00 worth of duvets. The seamstresses, who are paid by the APV and who hope to segue this venture into a self-sustaining business, and the Duvet Project are funded completely through donations to the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

On a more practical level, I wash dishes, sweep floors, and carry firewood for the two stoves with everyone else. Yesterday we scrubbed mold off of our bedroom ceiling. Our apartment is a second-storey walk-up containing a kitchen and three bedrooms, which double as a dining room, meeting rooms, and classrooms for our two English classes and a workspace for the seamstresses. There are 14 people living here.

I do hope each of you has had a good start to the new  year. Best Always,

 

Ken

 

Your comments are welcome, please email me at mailbox@urbanmissionaries.com