I bought my daughter a new (second hand, old, scrappy, but larger) bike a few days ago. She has grown past her old bike, which we have given to Elijah. She and Elijah so enjoy riding to school. They did enjoy riding to school. It was about the one normal public thing they could do. No parks, no libraries, no cafés, no boardwalks. But they could ride to school. Can’t do that anymore.
If I have to arrange transport for Julie everywhere she goes, it will be ridiculous. Same with the kids. We didn’t come here to be driven everywhere. Julie used to go walking in the morning with her friend. Not anymore. I had just been given a bike by Dan, who is leaving Afghanistan (partly because of deteriorating security). I had just put new brakes on the front, cleaned it up. I was really enjoying riding it.
I have started scanning for weapons when I drive. I checked for car bombs yesterday. It is ages since I have done that.
Other agencies are taking on armed guards. I won’t do that. We will not kill in order to remain in this country, and that is the step you take when you put on armed guards. If you are not willing to allow them to kill, they are no deterrent.
Most people agree this is not the end of matters. There will be more killings. Aid workers used to be neutral, we had tactics we could use to avoid conflict. If aid workers were killed, it was because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, were seen as obstacles. But not targets. We were not deliberately targetted. Now we are. If you are a target, get out of the firing range.
What really irritates and upsets me in this, is that four years ago, we predicted this. The reduction of the neutral, protected humanitarian space. We said that if the military started doing aid –that is, being aid-workers, aid workers would start being equated with the military. That is, we would be seen as synonymous with the ideologies and attitudes that have placed occupying, armed forces here, and so be seen as legitimate targets.
And that is exactly what has happened.
We don’t want to return to Australia. Not yet. I had just started to feel at home. When we first came here, in 1999, to live, I got straight into being here. I planted a vegetable garden, I did projects to improve our home, I made this place our place. Then we got evacuated and it all went South. The second time we came here to live, it took me longer. I was more wary. This time, I had, until very recently, an attitude of ‘ this place is not my home. I will not invest in it.’ That changed about two weeks ago, and I started to care. I thought about running drama classes at the kids school. I started doing stuff to improve our home, beyond the bare minimum. I started to want to make this place, our place. I started to care.