Every Saturday on KAF (Kandahar Air Field) there is the bazaar. Local Afghanis set up booths and sell everything from belly dancing outfits to burkas. The bazaar begins at noon and before then the young boys can attend a school. A friend of mine actually helped out with it once and loved every second of it! I originally wanted to help with it but found out that it takes a crazy amount of training, and I’m pretty sure they don’t allow females. After school, the children then help their fathers run the booths.
A couple weekends ago I arrived just as the bazaar was beginning. As I was wandering through the booths, I saw an older Afghani man bending down seemingly enraptured by something his son was saying and gesturing him to continue. I blocked out the rest of the bazaar that was shouting bargaining prices, and I heard the little boy in his tiny child voice with a thick Middle Eastern accent continue, “G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P.”
It would be such a common scene in an American household at about 5:30 p.m. Dad returning from work and his son rushing to proudly recite the alphabet he learned in school that day…only, I was in Afghanistan, in the middle of a warzone, where just a few days prior people there had shot a rocket onto the very base I was standing on to try to hurt us.
So many people question why we are in Afghanistan, and if it will be worth it, and don’t they hate us, but for that one moment the rest of the doubting world was silenced and I was filled with a sense of hope. Hope that this boy instead of growing up in a culture that breeds distrust and hatred of Americans, he would feel comfort and strength from our presence and come to crave freedom and work for it. That’s why I believe education is the most powerful tool we possess. I hope that we use it more.