My parents have been working in Afghanistan for a number of years, establishing a Family Practice residency program for Afghan doctors. I have wanted to visit them since they got there, but it was always a long way and a tough place to go with my family just to visit. But then, with Heather going to the US with the girls, I saw my opportunity to make this happen. So two weeks ago I traveled to Dubai, obtained an Afghanistan visa, and then traveled to Kabul. Allow me a few observations about my trip:
I had the opportunity to lecture to and round with the Family Practice residents and physicians on two occasions. They are a very bright group of people and were really interested in learning about surgery (indeed, when they are done with their 3 years of training, some of them will choose to work in hospitals in rural areas where they will need to be able to do surgery).
The people there are amazing artisans. As the country is rebuilding, many people are reviving their culture of craftsmanship and we saw some very innate woodcarving throughout the city. We also saw many instances of the older generation teaching teenagers these crafts.
The land is beautiful. Kabul is nestled among 10,000 ft mountains, which are snowcapped during some of the year. There are fruit trees scattered everywhere (not in bloom, since it is winter). In addition to being artisans, Afghans do some beautiful landscaping.
Finally, it was wonderful to be with my parents and see how they have been living these past years. We did a lot of catching up and laughing with each other and that was very refreshing.