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Chadima continues her vital work in Afghanistan

Published: 10/13/2015
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Editor's Note:
Although NickerNews rarely features non-horse articles, we make an exception for exceptional people and stories.

Dr. Susan Chadima of Topsham, Maine, has traveled to Afghanistan many times and for several months at a time, helping animals and the veterinary community. She is the team leader for the Animal Health Development Programme (AHDP) and she wrote to us earlier this month from Kabul.
[At right, Dr. Chadima makes a rare visit with an Afghani equine.]

The country faces an urgent need to rebuild veterinary services, improve livestock productivity, protect the country from unwanted diseases, among many additional priorities.

There are just 300 vets for many million head of livestock in Afghanistan.

Click here to read previous articles

By Susan Chadima

Friday morning in Kabul.
I have just finished eating some breakfast outside on our deck, and thrown my leftover toast and some vegetable peelings to the chickens in their luxurious pen (and eaten one of their best eggs ever) and think that given the news of the week here – Taliban recapture of the northern city of Kunduz, ongoing efforts by the Afghan military, with US support, to retake the city, it might be time to write a much overdue “update from Kabul.”

Before any Sue Chadima Analysis of Afghan political or security situation, I will share some more modest observations regarding the chickens: 

This guest house is the first time I have spent any amount of time living with chickens, and our relationship improved dramatically once we made a fence so they were restricted to their own section of the yard.  

There is no question that the eggs from cage-free, backyard chickens are so far superior to those from the supermarket, that I wonder what most of us actually eat most of the time.  I’ve also gotten used to throwing all vegetable peelings, etc., from the kitchen directly into the “chicken yard.” It will be an adjustment not to do that in Maine! 

What are chicken dietary preferences? 

It turns out they love marigolds, but refuse to eat geraniums.  Tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, eggshells, potato peelings are devoured with relish, but they won’t eat citrus.  Herbs in order of preference:  Cilantro is the absolute favorite, Mint OK, Basil only if no other options.  Perhaps this is trivia you’ve never thought about, but I am happy to have shared it with you.

It is the small things here that help keep life normal

It is important to find friends and activities and to make a life for oneself  in spite of the many challenges.  I have found a wonderful salon where I now get my hair done (and pedicures). It's hidden away – extremely low profile – in a building of apartment flats, and most interestingly of all the beauticians are all deaf Afghan women.  Someone started it as a project several years ago, they do a great job, and it has provided jobs for a small segment of society that otherwise would have none.
But, of course, the question on everyone’s minds this week is Kunduz – the Taliban takeover, the government counterattack since then, the horrible bombing of a hospital.  There is a complete lack of real knowledge about the situation, what it means for Afghanistan, what is behind the actions and the headlines, and what are all the hidden agendas. 
No one knows.   Really, no one knows. 

Theories abound. But this is a country where Mullah Omar sent public Eid greetings in July, and shortly after the government announced that he had been dead for two years!  What kind of intelligence are people actually working with? And who is deciding when and how critical information is released?
People in Kabul are of course worried. But Kabul is a city of many million, where Kunduz has been unstable for most of the past year, and Kunduz city is home to 300,000. 

In spite of the horrible situation there, one bright spot that has emerged is in regard to veterinary medicine and my project.  AHDP built a new veterinary lab that was completed about a year ago.  The district agricultural offices were destroyed in this week’s attack, but the lab is located in a different area.  As of right now the lab is still OK, and what we are being told is that the local farmers joined together and talked the Taliban out of attacking it, because it is important for their animals. 

Let’s hope that attitude holds. 

What is going on here is one small piece of a much larger ethnic, religious, ideological, political, and economic struggle and shift taking place in the world.  The world situation is indeed changing but it is not clear what the end result will be.  Having a front seat does not seem to provide any clearer answers.

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