Christmas in Kabul

Posted by Janet Heg
December 21, 2012
Afghans Walk Down a Snow-Covered Road

As Christmas approaches, my husband and I are almost halfway through our year-long assignment to Kabul. Serving at an unaccompanied post was not something we had to do, but something we chose to do. We expected the work to be interesting and rewarding, but we had no idea how many special, rare, and unique moments were in store for us.

I consider myself enormously privileged to have the opportunity to meet a wide variety of Afghans, many of them students and many of them incredibly brave. I value the brief glimpses into the lives of others, the few moments when I learn a little about the difficulties that other people face daily.

In a provincial capital, women talked about some of the obstacles that prevent girls getting an education. In one village, for example, girls cannot go to school after sixth grade because there is no female teacher and adolescent girls cannot be taught by a man.

There have been heartwarming but sobering moments, including visits to a home for children whose mothers are in prison. During an art therapy session at the center, a little boy told the therapist he wanted to grow up to be a 'good' religious leader. Workers at a women's shelter talked to an American counselor about the stress they were under as a result of dealing daily with the victims of abuse. The counselor taught them some simple techniques they could use to help both themselves and their clients, but I also felt that giving them time and space to talk to was helpful in itself.

There have been unexpected moments -- such as the scholarship applicants who talked about Kafka, Tom & Jerry, and Harry Potter. There have been surreal moments, such as listening to Afghanistan's first heavy metal band play at the residence of the Deputy Ambassador, at a concert dedicated to the memory of journalist Daniel Pearl. There have been inspiring moments -- watching a female general in the U.S. Air Force tell high school girls that, yes, they could aspire to owning a business, learning to fly, or joining the military.

On Christmas Day, I will miss being with my own family, but I will also enjoy spending time with the Embassy family. There are decorations in the cafeteria, and Christmas trees all over the compound. We had a lively holiday party last week: people in jeans mingled with guests in suits and evening gowns, while others dressed festively in red and green. I shall treasure the holiday ornament marked "U.S. Embassy Kabul 2012 -- Be Merry" as a tangible reminder of an unforgettable experience.

Carol singers came on Friday, and church services are within easy reach. On the day itself, friends, and co-workers will be sharing meals and looking out for others, hoping to ensure that everyone has someone to be with and somewhere to go.

Comments

Comments

Susan C.
|
Florida, USA
December 26, 2012

Susan in Florida writes:

Thank you for your service. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Leila M.
|
Arizona, USA
December 26, 2012

Leila in Arizona writes:

Thank you Ms. Janet Heg for the beautiful picture of Kabul graced with snow, the warm words about your life around Christmas time there and the glimpses of Afghan life. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

Said G.
|
Afghanistan
December 26, 2012

Farid in Kabul writes:

Hi, I read your story it was really exciting and interesting, sorry you hadn't chance to celebrate the Christmas with your own family, but for those who celebrate Christmas its the Blessed season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love, some part of your story made me little bit saddened specially about the girls school, the matter is in my country there is no good governance and system, its along journey, but unfortunately the community suffering, my last hope is the 2014 presidential election, and I hope the Afghan community feel the reality of vote, since each vote guaranty their future, the future of their kids and the country, otherwise with such government and management there is no hope, even-though its little bit late, but still would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Best regards, Farid

Tania S.
|
Afghanistan
December 26, 2012

Tania in Kabul writes:

Living and working in Kabul, Afghanistan and getting to know more about the real Afghanistan and Afghan culture is truly a blessing most people are never afforded the opportunity. Thanks for sharing such nice words and memories. . . your purpose and passion is surely appreciated ~ I am also grateful for my life experiences in Kabul, AFG. Keep on doing the good and being the good ~ <3

Shukrullah
|
Afghanistan
December 26, 2012

Shukrullah in Kabul writes:

I love u very much USA
and merry Christmas to all Christians around the world lets hope and pray for a better world community

Troy
|
Afghanistan
December 26, 2012

Troy in Afghanistan writes:

I too have had a wonderful time getting to know the Afghan people. I spent 7 months at FOB Shinwar. I made some freinds and I well miss them. I am currently at BAF waiting on my flight to return home. This is my second tour in Afghanistan.

sharif n.
|
Afghanistan
December 27, 2012

Sharif in Kabul writes:

WE WANT TO, THE USA WILL BE IN AFGHANISTAN, SO WE NEED IS A GOOD SECURITY & LEGALLY LIVE WITH OUT CONFLICT.THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE WHIT OUT USA.
I BELOVED A SNOWY KABUL A RAINY KABUL A LAWFUL KABUL A HAPPY KABUL...

sabna y.
|
Afghanistan
December 27, 2012

Sabna in Afghanistan writes:

first of all I got an warmth hi for every one who are reading my massage and for Christians wish a new starts and a new life, and secondly I got and especial hi for every Muslims around the world who are in love with Allah and his messengers , wish you guys be safe wherever you are and Allah grant for you all the paradise and finally thanked from Janet Heg for posting this stuff.

Zulfiqar
|
Pakistan
December 27, 2012

Zulfiqar in Peshawar writes:

Merry Christmas our western friends. Thanks for saving and rebuilding Afghanistan. You are doing a job which was our primarily but owing many many self created problems we couldn't. Hopefully all afghans will stand on their own feet with help of great friends like yours. God bless America God bless Afghanistan

Mossavi
|
Afghanistan
December 27, 2012

Mossavi in Afghanistan writes:

we highley appreciate you work for providing services for Afghan people. Meryy chirstmase to you and yours!

Habib S.
|
Afghanistan
December 27, 2012

Habib in Kabul writes:

Hello Every one, i love Army, merry Christmas to all Christians around the Kabul Afghanistan.
have a great time in Afghanistan,
Thanks

obaid
|
Afghanistan
December 27, 2012

Obaid in Afghanistan writes:

congratulation,
merry Christmas for all u.s officials soldiers and workers wish u good luck and hopeful year...
again happy new year..

Latest Stories

Pages