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Zen Peacekeeper.







This is what I do

Monday, December 3, 2007 by Marianne Elliott

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Some people wonder what I do in an average day. Today was an average day. At about 8 am I finished drying my hair and walked the 100m from my accomodation unit to my office. Almost as soon as I sat at my desk a colleague came to share a long and winding tale of intrigue and deception with me. This tale was premised on the assumption that another colleague of ours is a baddy, and this morning I was had it with tattle tales. So as soon as the internet started working again and I could send off my monthly report (depressing human rights violations left, right and centre) I set out for a mind-clearing walk.

I started out at my favorite burial ground of old tanks and various abandoned vehicle carcasses. This morning instead of capturing the shifting light and shadow on the rusting tanks and APCs I was happy trying to catch the gleam of the sun in an icicle (below) or making a snow-hooded APC look like a smiley face (above).


By the time I had power walked along the river for an hour I felt less like strangling everyone in the office and was ready for another long meeting of the Combined Disaster Management Team (CDMT). We meet regularly these days, given that the arrival of winter spells all sorts of iminent disasters in Ghor.

I've been meeting and working with these men for sometime now and today (as my final departure looms) I decided to capture them in action.




Do they look serious? Well, they should. Today we had one hour discussion on the question of 'how can we keep the roads open this winter, ensuring access to health care and food assistance?'. Once we had each been tasked with one follow up action we moved onto a shorter (we were all getting tired) discussion on 'how many displaced families will turn up in Chegcharan this winter, and how will we help them?'.




These are familiar faces to me, these men I've been working with here for the past year. As I photographed them today I realised, again, just how much I'm going to miss this maddening and captivating little town.


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18 Responses to "This is what I do"

  1. bee says:

    hi, frida.
    i found your blog a while back, either through denise’s or darlene’s, i’m not sure which. there is something very magical about it, and what you are doing. i can only begin to understand how momentous this transition is for you…i just wanted to let you know that you have another supportive witness along for the ride.
    you also take amazing photographs. 🙂

  2. Swirly says:

    …and they are going to miss you as well my dear. I love you.

  3. Becca says:

    This is certainly no ordinary day … peace and blessing as you do such good work!

  4. amy says:

    Frida, those photos are beautiful. not only because they capture wonderful expressions on the men’s faces but they capture the spirit of good work being done.

  5. tiny noises says:

    Thanks for the glimpse into your daily world. I love your photos, including those from your last post. This little, intimate look into your world is the next best thing to teleporting. Missing you. x -m

  6. crazymumma says:

    I would need a brisk walk in those circumstances as well.

  7. michael morrow says:

    frida, yeh, I am mightily impressed with your path’s direction. Looking at these pictures, I feel to suggest that I would like to choreograph a modern dance piece with a theme addressing some of the images I see in your photos as well as what I get from spirit through your words.
    In this moment I see images/slides flashed onto a huge backdrop screen with dancers performing in front, perhaps dressed in some sort of ethnic clothing, not costume. Maybe even children included in the performance.
    I am one who sees degrees of light. I see that idea as part of the choreography. HHHMMmm, yes trust is self-contained before it can go out………..thanks, I trust me too.

  8. susanna says:

    It was interesting to read your day-in-my-life-in-Ghor post, Frida. The questions and responsibilities that you and your colleagues cover are pretty darn important. And good for you for separating yourself from the tattletale’s rumours. Sometimes it’s easy to get sucked into office politics and rumours, especially if they are unfounded, just bring everyone down. And yes, I can see that smiley face on the tank! 🙂

  9. Jeni says:

    Your photos capture the feeling, the essence of life there – it’s all on their faces. Wow, the work you do is courageous, brave and even if it doesn’t feel like it – effective on some or many levels. And, the fact that you share this struggle and process with the rest of the world, takes the process and awareness to others. A ripple effect. You are leaving there, but you are leaving a part of you behind, forever engraved in that Afghan land and culture. Yes, Frida had an impact on Afghanistan as a country and on many, many of its citizens.

  10. Roy says:

    Good luck on your last few days. Seems like I will miss you by a few weeks. I am coming back in mid January. Although this time only as long as it takes me to do a few jobs. Although one is in Khowst and I am expecting travel delays there. May you find peace and calm in your future. Take what time you need adjusting will take longer than you think. Your writings so you to be a kind and generous soul so I know you will do well.

  11. wow…such a contrast yet so familiar as we are both in jetison mode…i love your pictures that you took today..they are so telling and sad and full of the things that most of us don’t have to think about each day…again, you are so brave and wonderfully courageous out there…I hope your last days you take the opportunity to say things that need to be said and embrace all the emotion…Have a safe journey and I’ll see you at the Shambala center!!!!

  12. boho girl says:

    i love that your power walk was healing…that you found a smiley face on the APC. i love this about you…
    i am so glad you took these portraits. it truly brings it home for those of us that aren’t physically there with you. it all seems so intimidating to me but when i hear what you are discussing, my heart just swells. i know you are such a light to their serious faces. i can imagine you brighten up so many dark spaces out there.
    thank you for sharing the light and heavy moments of your day.
    i love you.

  13. schmoops says:

    wow. such powerful portraits. have i mentioned how happy i am that you are documenting your journey? such incredible stories you have to share… xoxo

  14. Di says:

    I can see why you’ll miss them. Beautiful capture.

  15. Laura says:

    Wow. I just came across your blog, and I am amazed. I’m a peace studies major, and the things I debate about in class every day you’re actually out there doing. And your photos are incredible, as well.

  16. Marc says:

    What a great blog! What a great life! What a great writer!
    I’ll definitely be back.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for giving me a look into what you do each day. Your photos are beautiful and I love reading about your journeys. Thank you.

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