I’m a proud Canadian. Sometimes arrogantly so. But I’ll admit, I’ve never held a sign and walked the streets to protested injustice. I’ve thought about inequalities around the world, but not enough to do anything about them.
No matter what your opinion is about our role in Afghanistan, there’s one thing that isn’t up for debate, and that is the people over there, putting their lives at risk, they’re selfless. And when I heard someone I knew was there, well I was in disbelief. Nicole Graven is an Oh Brothers reader, even while she’s over there, and I wanted to talk to her. I thought you might to. So I did a blog-interview over Facebook, and I felt a little bit like Oprah, only less rich.
Where exactly are you and what is your mission?
I am in KAF, Afghanistan. I am currently on a Temporary Assignment Visit (TAV) in which we will be building 5 aircraft hangers. Until this project is ready to be started we, are helping out by doing some smaller projects for other Canadians in KAF.
What is a typical day like for you?
Until we start the hangers we will be working from 8-4 (except Saturdays when we get off at noon so we can go to the bazaar). In the morning, myself and another RMS Clk do administrative work, drop off/pick up laundry and pick up supplies and tools. We are not sure what hours we will be working once we start on the hangers; because of the heat we may work evenings. After work I tend to watch movies on my laptop, read and write letters home.
What is the mood like there?
Its good! We get cards that allow us to call home (35 min/week) and there are computers available so that we can stay in touch with our families and friends. There are places to shop and places to purchase food (Tim Hortons, Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King). So far morale seems high!
Being there is dangerous and other Canadians have died there. But you went there willingly, in-fact, you wanted to go. What kind of strength does it take to do that for your country and for people in another country?
The strength (for me) comes from having a super supportive family and understanding friends. Plus, I am super proud to be Canadian!!
You have 3 beautiful daughters at home with your husband. What did you tell them? Were you scared?
Basically, I explained to my children that not everyone has the same advantages they have, things we take for granted, such as the right to speak your mind and to go to school.
How are they dealing with not having you here with them?
My Husband and Mother are amazing!! Plus, we have a bunch of super supportive friends who are helping out. My oldest daughter misses me the most and has had some difficulty in the evenings. However, we are staying in constant contact via email and have had the opportunity to “talk” through Skype. Before I left I prepared some boxes with crafts and small gifts, so that they could open one once a week; it gives them something to look forward to!!
Are you scared of what might happen there?
No. The security here is pretty intense. Other than the occasional missile attack, I almost forget where I am!
How are the people towards you?
I was prepared during my “Cultural Awareness” training to expect the local Afghanistan people to ignore me. However, this has not happened. The workers here always greet me with a smile, hello or a wave. The locals I met at the market were all very friendly and several want to have a picture taken with me! The hardest thing is the language barrier.
What is the creature comforts that you miss most?
Privacy and a bathtub!!
What about food? What do you miss most?
Nachos and my friend Shannon’s Fajitas!!
What would you like us to know that we may not know?
Its possible to turn cold water into ice…if its HOT enough!
What is the first thing that you’re going to do when you get home?
Hopefully lots of hugs and kisses from my family at the airport!! Other than that I’m looking forward to doing some baking cookies with my girls, swimming, camping and bike rides!!
When you come home the provincial election will be over. Who do you hope it’s going to be? Don’t answer that. It’s none of my business. I’m just trying to be funny before I asked my last gut wrenching question. What would you like your girls to know about this mission? What is your hope that they will take away from you being gone and in harms way?
I hope they learn to be proud Canadians and not to sit on the sidelines when somebody is being treated unfairly (whether that be at school, at play or in another country!)
I’m so grateful to Nicole for taking the time to have an e-chat with me. I wanted to let Nicole know that I have seen her girls and they are doing well, thou missing her very much. And Nicole, rest assured, your girls are very proud Canadians, and very proud of their mom. Come home safe.
Show Nicole some love.