Afghanistan-a peek into the diary (12)

le chat1st week of December, 2005

This week, we had a lovely surprise: the guards, who knew how upset we were about the disappearance of Stinky the cat and how we had tried to find her again, turned up with a
cute kitten. Because (perhaps by chance), the kitten came to us exactly on Antoine’s birthday, or perhaps because the guards gave the kitten to Antoine (whose room is closest to our front door!), Antoine has laid claim to the cat and maintains she is his. He has set up a feeding station for her in his room and has named her “Le chat”, despite protests from our end that that is not a very imaginative name and that feeding her in his room is a form of bribe to the cat to seek Antoine’s company!!!!!

We all love “Le chat”. She is much less smelly than poor Stinky was and generally less intrusive, and we all love her. I will miss her when I go back to Europe for Christmas. That trip is coming round so soon now and I am excited to be able to go home and see family and friends.

In the meantime, there is still lots to do: there are still many ongoing discussions about the infrastructure works,notably about the bag zanana (Women’s Centre) and the centre for people with disabilities…….the main issues around this being that we have no firm assurance at the moment that anyone will fund the running and admin costs associated with these centres. A building with no capacity to run it will be of no use to anyone!!!!

Another bone of contention is the slaughter-house. The local government here in Jalalabad has made a convincing case for a slaughter-house to be built. Currently animals are just slaughtered in an open space or in the market area itself……but there are issues around an appropriate site and about the running of such a facility. The site we were shown the other day was very far out of town, reachable only by a narrow dirt track. Noone can answer the question as to how meat would get to the market from there, and whether the cost of transport and of the rehabilitation of the road needed for deliveries could be recovered from meat sales……there is a risk that if the prices go up too much, traditional practices would continue, turning the project into a futile effort which makes no difference to anyone. None of us want that, and so it feels as if we are going around in circles.

At least we have agreed on the rehabilitation of those dirty,open drain channels,construction of healthier market facilities and of 3 sets of public toilets. Practicalities are now underway to get all these projects off the ground, and in the new year I will work with the team to start recruitment of demobilised ex-combatants and others from vulnerable groups to benefit from cash for works opportunities offered to unskilled labourers on our construction sites.

One of Jalalabads currrent butchers markets (2)