Monday, October 23, 2006
In the news
From Gaza, to Timor-Leste to Afghanistan, I've become used to seeing the country I'm living or working in in the world news headlines. But today I was reading headline news on BBC, New York Times and the International Herald Tribune online not just about the place I'm in but about the specific situation I'm trying to work on. The reports in the media vary widely from 12 to 70 people dead. Our sources here on the ground are also giving different figures. The offical number is 21 dead, although informants on the ground mostly seem to agree that there have been at least 30 fatalities including civilians, perhaps even women and children. This is the conflict that our office has been trying to help prevent for the past week. Now it is the conflcit that I'm trying to help find peaceful solutions to. I have great support from our head office in Kabul and excellent advice from national staff here in the region, but at the end of the day I'm in charge of this office and I'm the person who has to front up to meetings the Provincial Governor etc. This morning, sitting outside the Governor's office - waiting for the emergency military council to finish it's discussions - I'm was busy trying to convince myself that I was actually in the right place, that I'm not a fraud, that I wondered how I'd ever manage to instill any confidence when I finally met with them. The one saving factor is that the gravity of the situation and the cost of either inaction or taking the wrong action is potentially so high that thoughts or feelings about myself are pretty quickly overwhelmed by the need to focus on what can be usefully done. Today is the first day of Eid, something like the Muslim equivalent of Christmas day. People here should be celebrating the end of the month of fasting and prayer and enjoying meals and good times with their family. Instead families in Shindand are burying their dead loved ones and the threat of further violence remains. So I'm well and truely out of my funk about not knowing what I'm supposed to be doing here, but I'll still be very happy when this particular "focus" is well and truely over.