The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

A BANDAID |

August 29, 2008

A BANDAID
Name: Cheese
Posting date: 8/29/08
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Hometown: Binghamton, NY
Milblog: Cheese's Milblog

Framed_cheese_bandaid_1_2 I just got off of Rapid Reaction Force(RRF) and am surprised to not be heading right back outside the wire -- for once! RRF was much more interesting this time, mainly because we just got a Wii in the mail.

For those who are unaware, RRF is where we get all of our stuff ready to roll out the gate, then we sit around and wait for something to happen. Think firefighters...with guns.

Normally the RRF shack is a place to watch old DVDs, but not this time. One by one, each guy who made fun of us as we whacked away at digital tennis balls ended up joining in. Seeing guys in ACUs swatting WiiMotes around in an under-sized RRF shack is beyond hilarious.

On a more serious note, we stumbled upon a tragic little village during a patrol a couple of days ago. The place is a landfill. Framed_cheese_bandaid_5_4 The people live off of the garbage that other people throw away. Their homes are patchwork tents sewn together from discarded clothes. The people, and their livestock, eat garbage. I have never seen people so sick. The children are covered in sores and burns which we found out were caused by the frequent tent fires.

I cannot accurately describe this place. I have seen many people living in squalor, but these people are actually dying as they stand. The incredible thing about this village, at which we were compelled to stop when we spotted it on our way to somewhere else, is that when we offered what meager supplies we had (tea, sugar, cooking oil) the people stood back while the village elder divided it evenly.

Framed_cheese_bandaid_2_3 This is a first. Usually the kids swarm us and some people try to steal more than their share, but here, where the people need it the most, everyone waited patiently.

It felt like giving a band-aid to someone on their deathbed. Thankfully, we were able to scrape up more of what these people actually need and will be bringing it to them soon. And I'll be making it my personal mission to get these kids inoculated, in the unlikely event that my lieutenant doesn't get to it first.

Comments

That story tugged at my heart. Is there any chance you can contact let some NGO about that village?

God Bless you. Thank you for your service and for your loving heart.
We love and support each and everyone of you.

Hugz,
Tami

This really makes me believe that our country is one of the best out there. You would never see that situation in the US. We are lucky that we have the welfare system that we have. Those people also make me think of how selfish people in the US can be also. These people waited to get their share when most Americans in the same situation take before thinking about others.

Thank you so much for helping them, for caring. I am encouraged that at least these people will see a true face of American caring in their bitter lives. Blessings upon you and your unit!

Your blog made me realize how fortunate I am. It's hard to imagine what you and those who live there go through. I have to say you are very altrustic for sharing your food. You are wonderful. God Bless.

Foolish thought. Children in the US live in squalor as well.

Cheese;

Keep plugging away; nothing changes things like persistence. Go back and work something out. And keep safe.

After reading "BANDAID" I was left with a lump in my throat. These young men and women that serve the U.S. do it with the most honorable intentions.

After reading this, I feel that U.S. citizens take advantage of what we have. These people are eating garbage, when some people in the U.S. have more money than they know what to do with. I was very suprised when I read that they even had the manners to wait in line for their turn to get their share.

It is amazing to see people with so little still take the time to be courteous to others around them in the same situation. We get so used to people butting and pushing in line, that we accept it as the norm. These people have nothing and when they are offered the most meager of essentials they still take time to make sure everyone has a part of the gift. We are blessed there are people that will take the time to help out the extremely less fortunate. It is inspiring to hear there are still decent people in this world.

It sounds like you have seen some horrific sites lately. Keep doing what your doing because eventually it will pay off and those people there will thank you. The pictures you have posted say more than any one could imagine. Thanks, for doing your thing it is making a difference. Keep going, enjoy it and be safe.

First off, I would like to say that it is totally awesome that you get to play the Wii! I have one at home and I love it! I can't believe the poor conditions that the village people live in, especially the children. I have a young child of my own and I cannot imagine having to see burns on her due to tent fires. You are all amazing models for what our country should be about: aiding those who are in dire need. Thanks for all that you have done and will do for us in the future. Good luck.

Your story gave me chills, you have a big heart. I find your attitude very impressive. Instead of thinking of yourself by doing the bare minimum to serve your time and get home, you are giving a part of yourself. You sound like a true American hero.

This was a great story. This gave me some idea of what people their are living like. We all get so used to our cushy living, we do not think of other people that have it worse.
Thank God the Military has such good soldiers that truly care and help these people, especially the children.
Be safe, and thanks for the posting.

Thank you for everything you do! Your stories are truly touching, and eye opening! Thank you so much!!

I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about the civilians in the Middle East. We hear the horrible numbers of military and civilian casualties, but I think we sometimes forget about those who have to live in the middle of the war. It sounds like these people are just existing until their village dies out. I'm glad that our servicemen are trying to help them and give them a little hope.

It make me proud to know that soldiers do more and battle, they help others save lives and make a difference for our country. It was so funny to year about the RRF playing Wii and having a little fun. The pictures are amazing; it made me feel a lot closer to the men and women who risk it all to make a difference. Keep making history one day at a time.

As I was reading your story it jumped from a degree of happiness to a feeling of sadness and helplessness. I hear stories about people in the Middle East and never really think about their lifestyle and how bad it is for them. It is awful that those people, especially the young children, have to live off the garbage and scavenge for food. It is remarkable that these people split up the supplies that you gave them evenly and didn’t try to get more for their own personal sake. I can’t imagine living off of garbage and in tents. It is a great thing that you could give what you did to those people to help them out.

It is amazing to hear of the good you and your unit are doing. It is wonderful to hear how much you truly care. It is hard to believe that there are people living like that in the world because you don't really see that here in the States, but yet they are still respectful and courteous to those around them. Keep up the good work, stay safe, and have fun playing the Wii... they are a blast! :)

It is not often that the average citizen gets a look at this side of things in Middle East. I think “A BANDAID” was a sad but inspiring story. It is very easy for us to dehumanize and stereotype when the majority of the stories we see in the media focus on attacks and casualties. Stories like this bring us back to reality and show how despite cultural differences, the human capacity for caring is arguably as large as its capacity for hate.

I don't know how many times you get a thank you for all of your efforts, but I want you to know that your efforts are appreciated. The situation that you have described is horrible, and I feel sorry for the people that are effected. It is nice to know that military personnel are able to help the villagers. Hopefully, they will remember your kindness, and at least in one small place in the world we will not be known as the "ugly americans". I hope you're able to get a little more "down" time with the Wii, wimbleton awaits the winner!

For some reason, it seems like some people get more polite and orderly the more desperate their situation gets. I don't know why, nor can I imagine the struggle those people go through every day, but it does reassure me that people like you care and help like this.

So, at the risk of sounding unoriginal, thank you.

I just can not say it enough you guys rock, and we here in U.S. appreciate everything you guys do, and wish you a safe return home soon. Does it look like that everywhere in Iraq (all dirt no buildings, roads?) That’s just awful on how they live in those tents or whatever they are. It’s also depressing about the children there they have no opportunity to really have what we do, but you guys have tremendous hearts trying to look out and help them. That would be hard for me to see what you guys see on a daily bases. Good luck and god bless.

How could we consider civilians the enemy?
Do we really think that the people in this village, who are starving, dying from illness and malnutrition- would or could care about this war? Or even desire the civil war with or without our military presence? When you have to worry about when you will eat next or have enough water or shelter your priorities change quickly.
You put energy into survival. All else is secondary. Bless you and all those worldwide who continue the humanitarian fight

Thanks for your story. Hope somehow this gets into a venue that reaches more Americans. Yes, we find good people and people who respect each other everywhere. Only wish more people understood this.

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