Saturday, February 12, 2011

New and improved, with more Kabul content

My office recently hosted a TDYer (short-term visitor from USAID in DC) who was very excited to learn that I've been keeping a blog about my time in Afghanistan. He said that USAID staff back in DC -- especially those soon to be posted to Kabul -- are always asking for information on what life is like here. And that with my permission, he was going to start directing them to my blog.

Of course I gave him permission to share the blog, but then realized that most of this blog's content is about getting away from Kabul, or at least the Embassy. Bidding, vacations, excursions to Kabul restaurants, etc. I feel that in the history of this blog, I've actually said very little about what life is like here. Except for complaining about the food.

So I'd like to ask for some assistance from those of you who read this post: what do YOU want to know about what life is like for USG civilians in Afghanistan? Feel free to put any and all questions that you've been dying to ask in the comments section of this post, and I'll do my best to answer them.

Ready, set....go!


  1. Hi, I've been lurking for a while and eating up your blog while I wait to see when I actually start with USAID. I recently switched gears from applying to DLI to applying for a USAID Afghan position. Here are a few of the questions mulling over in my brain:
    1) What do you wish you had brought with you that you didn't?
    2)Do you have to pay for the cafeteria food?
    3) What is internet access like? How does it work, how much does it cost?
    4) What is housing like for those who can't bring their partners along? Is there any private space at all?
    5) What kind of facilities are available for recreation?
    6) Are you allowed to go out in the cities at all? (ie. for shopping or interacting with native citizens)
    7) What is the community like? Are people all crazy about working all the time because there is nothing else to do?
    8) How easy is it to get packages/mail from the US?
    9) How does the health bureau work? Do officers mainly stay in Kabul, or are they spread throughout the country? Do they stay in place with occasional trips out or are they pretty much constantly out there overseeing sites and projects?
    10) How much have you been able/not able to share events of your life with family that are not in the country? Is skype or other internet modalities for calling home something that works or is it horrendously annoying to try and use it?
    So, just a few questions. I would love to chat and ask questions via email, just not sure how to do that...

  2. Hi Melissa--

    I'm working on my responses to your questions. Can I ask if the position you've applied to is based in Kabul or in the field? It'll make a big difference in how I answer.

  3. Hi Liz,

    I'm not sure if the position is either in Kabul or the field, it seemed to lump all of that together. Here's the exact phrase from the announcement: "Population/Health/Nutrition Officers will be based in Afghanistan and assigned to one of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), District Support Teams (DSTs), Regional Command Centers, other field units, and in some cases Kabul itself (See General Background section). " So, it seems to be more likely to be in the field, with a possibility of Kabul...

    Thanks for the reply. I know I asked an awful lot of questions.