A Day in the Life of an Aid Worker in Afghanistan

Afghanistan, October 29, 2004

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    Mohamad Ismail Rahimi (left) with an Afghan family that's being helped by Mercy Corps projects. Photo: Mercy Corps Afghanistan Photo:

I am Mohamad Ismail Rahimi, a Civil Society Officer with Mercy Corps. I am currently working on the Short-Term Reintegration through Community Empowerment Program (SRCE) in Afghanistan, funded by the Humanitarian Aid Office of the European Union (ECHO). Our goal is to rebuild community infrastructure and improve household and community safety for recent returnees.

Today, I am monitoring a water system we constructed together with a Community Development Council (CDC) in District 5 of Kabul.

After having breakfast and praying, I go to the Mercy Corps office and then out to the project site in Khoja Jam, a remote village of Kabul. During the last decades of conflict, this village was hugely damaged and all the residents were displaced. Most of them went to Pakistan and Iran.

After the 2001 Bonn Agreement established a roadmap for a new constitution and elections here, however, a window of hope and happiness opened to all Afghans. The emigrants started to return. But many Khoja Jam residents found their houses completely destroyed, and they had to live in tents provided by the UN.

When Mercy Corps started the shelter program, there were just five returnee families there, but after their houses were reconstructed, they persuaded their former neighbors to come back. Mercy Corps has rehabilitated 65 war damaged houses. Now Khoja Jam has a bazaar and is a community again.

Today I met with Mohammed Yousof, the secretary of the CDC, to look at the water supply system we built together. The community identified this project as a priority for them. Mercy Corps provided the materials and the CDC organized the labour for drilling, digging the canals, plumbing and backfilling. They also set up a maintenance group. We finished the project a few months ago, but I can see that it is still in good repair.

I also met a local resident, Noor Mohammad, who thanked Mercy Corps for constructing the water supply system here. “Before we brought water from two kilometers away by wheelbarrows, on shoulders and on donkeys," he said. "Now we have water near our houses.”