By Sgt T. Wilson
We have had some interesting experience since I last wrote. We had to go console the family of a village elder that was killed hours prior. It was extremely sad.
I was really nervous. This was the same house I made bread, so we had been there before and started to establish a relationship with them. We knew the boys really well because we have been to the school many times. But I was afraid they blamed us for his death. Its hard enough to comfort someone after a loss when your close to them, so trying to say the right thing to someone who is of a different culture, different language, and you only barely know I thought it was going to be tough. The 11-year-old daughter was the only witness and as soon as she saw us she started spilling the story…its like she needed to tell it.
In Afghanistan, this area anyway, they don’t have funeral homes, so they have to bury the body right away. And they don’t bury them under the ground. We have walked through one of their graveyards and there are people shaped mounds of rocks and dirt everywhere. They decorate the graves with long sticks with different color pieces of cloth. I know its hard to picture. The women do not get to go to the burial. So when we arrived at the house to consul the family it was just the women there. We went in the house and there were 20 women all dressed in black gathered together sitting on the floor. I have never seen so many women here in the same place. We sat down in front of them and they all crowded around and we did our best to offer condolences. I told them I was sorry for their lose and if there was anything they needed let us know. My linguist said a prayer from the Koran. The eldest daughter who is in her 20s had tears rolling down her face. I barely knew the guy but seeing the women in so much pain, I had trouble trying not to cry too. I know very un-Marine of me : ) They asked if we would come back though so I took that as a good sign.
She looked scared but she also calm. She would answer the male linguist, but when Zeba (my linguist) and I got there she finally talked, so Doc could do his assessment. We cleaned her up and found some clothes to change her into. They ended up medivac-ing her to a larger base with a hospital, in case she internal bleeding or something like that. I don’t remember the official term : ) Zeba is a nurse in the U.S. so she was able to help a lot with the medical stuff. What really struck me was that the whole time she did not cry once. She was surrounded by strangers who do not really speak her language, covered in blood, in pain, but she did not cry once. I couldn’t believe her strength. We told her how brave she was, gave her a little stuffed animal to take with her and one of the Marines carried her out to the helicopter. It turned out she didn’t have any major injuries just a really bad concussion.
Besides that we have been doing a lot of the same. Going out on patrols, going into the homes of the locals and trying to talk to the women. No matter how much I try to reason with myself it still gets to me that the women, usually the older women more so, don’t think there opinion has any value. We asked them if they want to send their daughters to school and they said, “I’m just a women it doesn’t matter what I think…you should ask my husband.” I try to tell them that I care what they think and that it does matter. Just to maybe plant a tiny seed of change in their minds. I’m not expecting to change their culture and really were not here to do that. We’re here to give them a voice, learn their concerns, and do what we can to improve there lives. But it still gets to me…
night…creeping around! : )