Yesterday the Fabfi Team went networking, you know, the social kind. We visited two prime spots, the village of Bagrami (4-5K people), a few hundred yards from the Taj, and Tutikas (less) across the river. Tutikas warrants its own post, so on to Bagrami...
For the record, not a lot of people roll around like we're doing here--no big guns, no body armor, no armored vehicles. The general sentiment on the ground here among most of the people we hang with is that's a lot of the reason why reconstruction is failing. You can't make friends with a poor farmer in sandals when you're decked out in full combat gear. The military doesn't leave the base in JBad unless they're in a 5 vehicle convoy, needless to say they're not making a lot of progress, but I digress...
Of the 5k people, about 2000 of them are in school--in a building with about a dozen rooms in a C. Some of the rooms have desks. I think they all have blackboards, but the fun ends there. Children go to school half a day so they can fit in twice as many students, and many of the teachers works second jobs (often tutoring) to supplement their meager teacher incomes. (not unlike the here...) This is one of the wealthier satellite villages around JBad.
Our purpose in visiting was to try to entice the teachers and students to come to the FabLab (site is under active development), but interest was mixed. The recurring response to the question of "what would you like to learn?" is "English and computers, so I can get a visa and get out of here", and we're trying very hard to be more than a computer lab if we can help it.
Being up close and personal with Afghans while wielding 7lbs of professional-grade camera equipment really brings out the cultural foibles of this place. Want to make a girl run? Point a lens at her. Women will turn away, boys will climb over each other to be framed right in front. It's it's like they have some sort of ESP for the camera frame (right).
they love cameras:
and they come in multiples of HOLY CRAP!
Too bad this is a war zone, huh? (click for big)
Full album (53 images) here.