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Friday, June 27, 2008

Heroes Required in Jeloucha, Afghanistan

Esmat, our director in Afghanistan, is currently visiting with us and we wanted to share one of his most recent achievements with you – the establishment of a medical clinic in Jeloucha, Northern Afghanistan, made possible with the help of HOPE International Development Agency supporters.

Until recently, the ill, injured, and pregnant had to make torturous journeys by foot or donkey over mountain trails to get medical attention. The medicines and advice received at the end of the journey was often inconsistent and expensive. Many people died from a lack of medical attention or as a result of the difficult journey. Many more fell into crippling debt.

Today, Jeloucha’s medical clinic receives over 100 patients every day, many of whom travel great distances (although significantly less than before). This change is an incredible improvement to the health of local families - the clinic is considered the best in the region.

The fact that people here at home and elsewhere cared enough to fund the clinic is wonderful. But money alone cannot bring about such an effective clinic in a remote place like Jeloucha. Heroic human beings need to be present as well. Esmat and his staff are such people. They deal with tremendous obstacles: geographic isolation, a lack of infrastructure, and unwieldy bureaucratic processes. Often, in his quest to make good things happen for his people, Esmat is navigating a system that would cause most of us to give up in despair. Instead, he persists until he prevails.

Recently, Esmat told us about an encounter with a local official who had the power to prevent the clinic’s construction. When good reason and appeals to compassion seemed insufficient, he employed a more powerful form of persuasion. Remembering that people had come to trust him and HOPE International Development Agency over the past few years, Esmat simply told this man: ‘You can say no to me, and that’s fine. But tomorrow, I will bring two hundred others, and you will need to say no to each of them.’

As you already know by now, this official did not say ‘no’ two hundred times.

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