Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Grati-Tuesday

Just a couple of quick notes to start off with.  
Firstly, I love to read all your emails with the updates on what you are doing and all the other bits and pieces that you pass on.  It certainly makes the "business" of running AHQ much more interesting.  I just wanted to say that I hope you will not mistake the brevity of my responses as disinterest in any way - it is just that sometimes I do not have a moment to spare and short emails are all I can manage.  Last night for example I think someone hung out a neon lit shingle for Aussie Heroes somewhere in Tarin Kowt as my laptop was buzzing with new requests and the two quilts I was hoping to applique...........not a hope.   

Secondly, can you please, PLEASE, PLEASE do me a really big favour and include the name of your recipient in the subject line of your email so that I can tell quickly who you are talking about  - that makes my life SOOOOOO much easier but more importantly than that it saves me a heap of time!


First up a very special thank you - this one for the Old Bags and the Dag!  


Dear Margaret,

This email is to thank Elsie, Bertha, Audrey, Nellie, Bertha (Bebs), Harold and yourself for the wonderful laundry bags which were sent to Multi National Base Command - Tarin Kot (Rotation Six) earlier this month.
I've attached a photo of the recipients of the laundry bags.  The sixth laundry bag (Bebs) is being kept for unit history and will belong to the unit.
Its the kindness from such people as yourselves which make our deployment go so much quicker so its with heartfelt gratitude that I pass on my appreciation on behalf of all MNBC-TK.
Once again, many thanks and appreciation to you all.
Kind Regards, 





Hi Jan-Maree

I am currently serving overseas and would like to say that I am very grateful for receiving one of your beautiful Laundry Bags. It was very grateful received, having left home without one. I am aware that a beautiful lady put a lot of thought, love and devotion  into making this Bag and every time I use it, which is daily, I think of that someone whom made it. 
Best Wishes,


This following letter is rather special too.  Sue N received it earlier in the year but because it was sent to her by mail, and there was no way I could contact the author to obtain permission to publish it, I had to look elsewhere.  Whilst the content is not particularly personal, it is very interesting to read and I felt it would be a well received addition to the blog.  We hear so little about what it is like to be in Afghanistan as so much is classified or not deemed "newsworthy".   Given the nature of the author's position I guessed that he would not have included anything that I could not publish but I still wanted to get someone else to look over it first.  That done I can now share it with you all.

Dear Mrs N,

My name is XXXXX and I am currently serving in Afghanistan with XXXX.  Today I received one of your hand-made laundry bags, along with a card, and I thought I would take the time to write to you in appreciation.


We have a common postal collection area, and on my way past, I noticed the "boss" selecting one of your laundry bags.  We discussed briefly how good we thought they were and selected one each.  The fact that we were discussing quality home-made laundry bags in what has proven to be a busy and stressful time, made us both laugh and certainly improved our morale.


In return for your generosity, I thought I would give you a quick insight into Afghanistan.  I can't write about what we do, however I will try to briefly describe what it is like.

It is the 4th of April and weather is transitioning from winter to summer.  The majority of days are blue skies and warm weather.  There is still snow on the mountains that dominate around Tarin Kowt in a large ring, however we are heading towards the baking heat.  Uruzgan Province is in the central area of Afghanistan, a remote area surrounded by impressive mountains and long, thin valleys.  The terrain is an incredible mix of contrasts.  Rolling hard desert (known as dascht) ends abruptly in areas of bright green, dense vegetation (known as green belts).   Flat, treeless expanses end suddenly and form sharp mountains that rise up 8000ft above sea level.  Helicopters have to skirt around and between the mountains, the air being too thin to lift them above.

The green belts follow deep valleys, along thin slivers of water that hosts the majority of the population in medieval style villages.  The homes, known as "compounds", are mini-forts made from hardened mud, designed over the centuries to protect from marauding invaders and they remain effective to this day.

The culture is an exotic blend, primarily consisting of Pashtun tribes.  The Pashtun tribes link throughout southern Afghanistan and into Pakistan.  Contrasting the Pashtuns, are Hazarans, as Asiatic looking people who speak Persian and re believed to be descended from the Mongols.  If you travel across the dascht, you will discover "kuchi camps", Pashtun nomads who travel around and establish large tent settlements in remote areas.  There are many smaller ethnic variations.   Mixed into this is a range of complex tribal inter-relationships, politics, insurgents, warlords, drug networks and everyday people.  All this adds up to a very dynamic and complex environment, or "human terrain".

Unique experiences here, for me, have included a rare meeting of pale, red haired children in a remote village (reminders of the Russian occupation), eating amazing local food in traditional settings, hard tenacious fighters explosive devices triggered from any combination of common item you can imagine, oppressed women and abused children and the loss of good mates.  the contrast of modern warplanes flying through ancient valleys, the barren mountains and rich green valleys, friendly resilient locals, the cunning, hard insurgents make for the experience of a lifetime.  

Your craft arrived in the middle of a very challenging time for us.  It brought a smile to my face, and I know the "boss" appreciated it too.  Sometimes it takes something like a parcel from someone you don't know, but who cares for you nonetheless, to allow you to return to reality for a moment, and bring perspective into an otherwise very unique and distant environment.

I hope this letter finds you well and once again, I thank you for your craft and the time and effort you took to show us you care.  I can tell you the bags were completely gone within an hour of being placed on display.  You can rest assured tonight they will be carrying the laundry  of the men and women of this Task Group.

What a wonderfully crafted letter and what I would not give to have such an articulate guest at my dinner table.  I make a habit of not asking many questions, usually only those necessary to conduct Aussie Heroes, so this sort of unsolicited letter is a wonderful gift.

Till next time...............keep spreading the word and happy stitching!
JMxx

5 comments:

  1. Yes, that is an amazing letter and it explains so much. Thanks for sharing that.

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  2. Amazing letter. Thanks to the soldier who wrote it, and to the quilter who shared it. Also you JM for going to the trouble of getting permission to publish.

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  3. I agree, It is indeed a thing to treasure.

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  4. This letter is amazing. I can not articulate how it makes me feel. But it surely did give a wonderful insight into where the guys/girls are,a small insight,but one none the less.
    It makes us all feel, I am sure, that what we do,and the hard work the Jan-Maree puts into getting our items to these great people,all worthwhile.
    I have never heard from my recipients, but that is ok, every letter of thanks that comes to the group is truly appreciated,and part of the thanks goes to all of us as a team/unit. Don't you think? :)

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  5. The 'word pictures' were so well written that I could 'see'.
    Thank you to those involved for sharing this with us.

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