I would like to you consider what I believe to be a fairly easy community service project that can potentially make a significant difference in the country of Afghanistan.Making a difference for the people of Afghanistan can make a very real difference for America.
The US Army is working hard to give Afghanistan an army of its own, a police force of its own, and facilities for the Army and police to work and live out of.If we are successful, Afghanistan will someday be able to police its own borders and towns, and to protect its own government and country.This would be a good thing for Afghanistan, but it would not really change this country – Afghanistan would always need more police and more soldiers and more US money to pay for them.Real change will come when the reasons this country needs a bigger police force and a bigger army are corrected.
Afghanistan is a very old country.Its history is long – more than 3000 years.But Afghanistan has not grown as a country for a very long time.Many other countries have invaded it, and many countries have kept it weak. The fighting amongst the Afghan tribes has also kept the country weak and cut off from the World.In many ways, life in Afghanistan today is much like life in Europe before 1500 a.d., before the Renaissance Era.
To be successful in today’s world, the country of Afghanistan must become a member of the world community of nations in a way that it has never been able to.When Afghanistan is strong enough to trade its goods and services in the world economy, when Afghanistan can send its students abroad to study, when Afghanistan can participate in the international debates then will Afghanistan be strong enough to take care of its borders and government.One of the ways in which the people of Afghanistan could become so strong is by learning English.Our language is the language if business, of international education, of the internet.By giving these people the tools to learn English, you can help them become members of the world community.
What I would ask of you is this:
1. Find the books in your homes that you read when you were younger, even the one-word-per-picture books.Find the books you learned to read with.Find the books that your family is done with.Please do not buy new books.New books in a mud and straw hut do not stay new for long.
2. Package the books in Post Office flat-rate shipping boxes.Books that don’t fit these standard boxes should stay in California.Shipping in non-standard boxes will significantly increase the cost of this program.
3. Please add notes, pictures, letters that you would like me to share with the children of Afghanistan.Please do not put addresses or phone numbers in your letters.Let them know how you see the world, how you feel about school, what you do on weekends, what you do at church or Scouts.Share the ideas that make you “American.”
4. Send the books to me at this address:
USACE Area Office
When the books arrive, we will get them to kids and schools in the rural communities throughout the Harat, Farah, Ghor, and Badghis Provinces where we are working.Real kids will have real books from which they can begin to piece together the English language.These kids may get to study English in their schools and homes, they will use English on the internet, and they will conduct business in English as adults.Every child we help to become a successful adult with hope for the future is one less angry adult we will have to fight in the years to come. We can make America stronger by sharing our language with these people.
Lt. Colonel Donald Karl Davis is a graduate of Berkeley High School who is in Afghanistan with the US Army Engineer Corps. He is the Officer in Charge of the Harat Area Office. This letter was originally addressed to Los Altos Girl Scouts who had sent cookies to the troops there.