SPRING IN MAZAR-E-SHARIF |
April 05, 2010
Name: CPT Mark Martin
Posting date: 4/5/10
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: New Hope, MN
Milblog: 270 Days in Afghanistan
Mother Nature has officially declared the end of winter here in Northern Afghanistan. In the mountain passes, trees are blooming and the mountainsides are lush with new green brought about by the significant amounts of rain that the region has received over the course of the last month. There is no doubt about it, spring has sprung.
The provincial government has started to plant trees along the roadside, which says a couple of things to me about where the province is at in the economic recovery process for the region. First and foremost, the effort to improve the landscape signals a departure from the stark and frightening goal of simply having a roof over their heads. The local Afghans here in this province seem to have progressed well into the middle of the pyramid of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The second thing it says to me is that optimism has made a comeback among these people. Thirty years ago, Afghanistan was a majestic place, filled with tree lined parks and several local landmarks which people came from all around to see.
After the Soviet invasion, and subsequently for the next 25 years or so, Afghans found themselves in difficult social and financial straits. Years of oppressive regimes and lack of economic stability or growth brought about a depression similar to our own hard times in the 1930s. Trade routes shrank and in some cases died out altogether, which left residents without essential, everyday staples of survival. Most of the trees in those majestic parks and along those avenues were cut down for firewood in order to heat homes and cook meals. The scarring of the countryside and its people could be seen and felt across the land. Until now.
Although the past can never be changed for these people and their lives, the future is looking just as bright and full of promise as this year's spring. Every day their government and police forces are making strides toward becoming self sufficient. The more we continue to work alongside our Afghan National Army counterparts, the better things seem to get. Don't get me wrong, there are still hurdles to jump and sizable roadblocks to get through before we can claim a resounding success here, but as with all things, every little bit helps. As long as we can see those incremental advances, this is a fight worth finishing.