Hi there

Here is part 5 of my blog ‘A personal reflection on ‘serving in Afghanistan’’ – if you missed the earlier parts, here they are:

:: part 1
:: part 2
:: part 3
:: part 4

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Last week I talked about Laila (not her real name). She and her friends scared off the Taliban by throwing stones. Laila cleaned for us and one day I came home early…opened the door and suddenly was splashed by a lot of water! I discovered exactly how Laila was cleaning!! She was standing upstairs and had thrown a whole bucket of water over the bannister. It hit the dining room table full on and wet everything including me. She couldn’t understand why I was angry. Her “technique” was to then brush away all the water and the dirt with it! Only really works in a village house!!

Reminds me of a Pakistan Pushtun lady who worked for us when we lived in Pakistan….that is a story for another day! Ok, next week!

I said I would talk this week about another very poor lady called Aisha (not her real name).

Aisha’s family was very poor so when she was 12, small and undeveloped, they married her off to a family where the wife had died and the old widower needed comfort…someone to tend to his needs and keep him warm in bed. We could never quite tell exactly what that meant because Aisha either didn’t want to or couldn’t explain. For Aisha it was a nightmare. Plucked from her family home (well…practically sold off!) she found herself in a strange home where she wasn’t loved or cared for but treated as a servant, a lowly one.

Each night she had to get into bed with the old man. She described the horror of it. She said his body was old and he was very wrinkled. The bed was small and she had to, was expected to, at minimum snuggle up to him. Not sure beyond that nor how compos mentis the old man was!

After a couple of years he died. The sons and daughters of the old man felt no responsibility towards Aisha. In fact they despised her and put her out/sent her home back to a family that didn’t want her and couldn’t afford to keep her. She had to find work which she did, cleaning. When we visited her at Eid she showed us where she slept now…in the small room where they kept the brooms and cleaning stuff and sacks of rice. It was a poor house but she was in the poorest room. She had a simple roughly made cot style bed and nothing else. Unloved! Unwanted!

Our friend, for whom she worked, spent a lot of time with her and tried to share the good news with her. Whether she really grasped it was difficult to tell. She was uneducated and couldn’t read. When our friend finally left the country she would send letters to Aisha reminding her of their previous discussions and that she was loved, and we would translate them. Aisha was so happy to receive the letters but so sad that she no longer had her friend close by.

If reading this has upset you…sorry. It upset me writing it!

Who will go to places like Afghanistan for these ladies and millions of others? Will you consider it? The second time I returned to Afghanistan it really wasn’t on my agenda to go…too difficult, too insecure…too…everything!! I didn’t give it any thought until I started to pray about it….will you pray and see what God says to you?

Giovanna

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