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