Carrie Hasselback (Afghanistan)

Carrie Hasselback (Afghan Women’s Network - AWN): Carrie received a B.A. from Michigan State University. During her undergraduate studies she also studied in Argentina and Italy. Carrie then worked for The Peace Corps in Romania for two years teaching English to children. At the time of her fellowship, she was studying at New York University pursuing a Master’s degree focusing on International Development and Nonprofit Management.

Burqas and Bugs in Kabul

03 Jul

Things are looking up here in Kabul. I had a wonderful weekend and I am getting adjusted to life in this city. I really have been enjoying my time here a lot more than I thought I would.

I actually got a two-day weekend and it was fabulous. My Afghan housemate, Ramin, took me on a tour of the city and I finally felt like I was really living here. We saw the bird market, which is a tiny, crowded section of the outdoor market where vendors sell birds, birdcages, and many other things that I don’t necessarily understand. I was a little apprehensive to take pictures, but Ramin took the camera and started shooting away. It turned out that people loved having their pictures taken. As soon as you would direct the camera their way, they would pose and smile. They really enjoy the digital camera display so they can see the photo right after it is taken.

He also took me up on a hill where you can see a view of the entire city. Having lived in New York for the past year, the view was somewhat… unspectacular. But it was interesting nonetheless. On this hill there were remnants of past days left behind—rusting tanks and a swimming pool with no water. We didn’t stay on the hill long. It was a very windy day and the dust in the air was unbearable.

After stopping for a fresh mango smoothie (though I doubt they call them that) and homemade ice cream, the tour included a short drive out of the city where I was shocked at the condition of the roads. I asked several times if what were on was really a road, but he assured me it was. I don’t know how they keep up with the maintenance on the cars with roads like that. We finished the day at the cultural center in Kabul where there was traditional music and dancing. It was a fun and interesting day.

The rest of the weekend was really nice. I spent a lot of time unintentionally escaping my situation. I lounged around in bed and watched DVDs on my computer until it really didn’t feel like I had left America at all. I was brought back to reality when I couldn’t hear the movie due to the jets flying overhead. I was again reminded when I had to kill a cockroach in my room that night. Yes, I am in Kabul.

Before coming to Kabul, I had read that the majority of the women here still wear the blue, conservative burqa. For a few days I figured that was wrong because you just don’t see them all over the place. Then it hit me; you don’t see women all over the place. It is truly a man’s society. A walk through the park on a Friday afternoon (their weekend) and you may only see one or two women on the busy sidewalks. After some observation, I realized that of the women you do actually see, most of them are indeed wearing the burqa. I even got a picture of a burqa-clad woman on the back of a motorbike yesterday.

Things are slowly progressing with my work at AWN. I am still writing reports and proofreading, but somehow I feel more involved. I have been working on the Web Portal Proposal that I started while I was Peshawar and I hope to have revisions completed soon. I also have invested a lot of time in the gender-based violence report and the office manager seems impressed by what I have done so far. Hopefully soon that will be finished and they can move me on to bigger and better things.

Posted By Carrie Hasselback (Afghanistan)

Posted Jul 3rd, 2005


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