Deployment Stories: Supporting Women's Issues, Governance in Afghanistan

Posted by Beverli DeWalt
April 1, 2009

Beverli DeWalt serves in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the U.S. Department of State.

My name is Beverli DeWalt. I am a member of the Civilian Response Corps Active Component. I work with the Office for the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization, and I’m a Foreign Service officer.

I deployed to Afghanistan in June of 2008 and I returned in December of 2008. The conditions there were – they varied, but for the most part I stayed on an airbase with the military in a container. I had two roommates. We all had a little, like, 8x8 square and these bunks to sleep on and a bathroom down the hall, which was not in the hall, more down the catwalk, which was one of the best situations there was. I didn’t have to stay in a hut.

I was deployed initially to work on a planning team to help bring together the strategic thought of the U.S. within Afghanistan. But then I had the opportunity to switch to a PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team), and I spent the bulk of my time working as a State Department officer there. While I was there, I worked on so many issues, everything from women’s issues to governance to rule of law, and it was great. I got to work with the Afghans, mentor, help coordinate international responses to these things, and also to work on a personal basis with individual people who really care about what’s going on there, both from an Afghan and an international perspective.

Two of the most exciting things that I did there – one was working with women on a saffron project. Saffron is a crop that they’re looking at as a replacement for poppy. And we worked with a women’s group to help them receive the training and the tools to be able to plant this crop. And at the end of my time there, we had it harvest and it was neat to see it all packaged and ready to sell.

The other great accomplishment I think that we did there was – I worked very closely with the UN. And during that time, we worked with a variety of groups in an area that was really unstable. And we brought together a bunch of different community groups that were at odds with one another into a forum that they could discuss with one another to try and resolve some of their internal problems that were contributing also to the Taliban, and it strengthened their area.

And after that meeting, through no effort on our part, they started to work together. They resolved one of their longstanding conflicts. They elected their own leader. And it was very rewarding to see them move forward on their own. And those were probably two of the best things that I experienced during my deployment.

This deployment is – it’s been one of the best in my career. I would gladly do it again in a heartbeat. There’s always tons of work to do, and every day you can wake up and you have at least 20 different things that you can pick from to do that are important, that are necessary. And it’s great, because you’re never bored and you never do something you don’t feel is important.

Related Entry: Ambassador Herbst discusses S/CRS and the Civilian Response Corps.

Comments

Comments

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
April 2, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

BBC, just four minutes ago: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been urged by the UN and Western aid agencies to abolish a new law that they say legalizes rape within marriage.

http://us.oneworld.net/article/one-woman-can-make-a-difference

http://www.unv.org/en/current-highlight/women-s-day-2009-people/doc/look...

Just to show this is not new: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?id=2007

Pakistan seems to have the best handle on developement right now...SLOWLY. To give everyone an idea of how deplorable it is for women even in the more educated Pakistani areas: Watch this: http://vodpod.com/watch/1445016-five-pakistani-women-buried-alive-in-gro...

It is a very uphill battle, but great gains are happening...because of the persistence of all Human Rights organizations and both administrations of the DOS....

Angie K.
|
California, USA
April 2, 2009

Angie K. in California writes:

Thank You Beverli for all your hard work. It is refreshing to hear about progress that is being made in Afghanistan. Keep it up!

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