Suffolk man tells of Afghan horrors
A SUFFOLK worker has told of the harsh conditions endured by people in Afghanistan during Christmas and of his hopes of easing their plight.Chris Petch spent Christmas in Mazar E Sharif after travelling out to the region with the aid organisation GOAL to help feed people in need.
A SUFFOLK worker has told of the harsh conditions endured by people in Afghanistan during Christmas and of his hopes of easing their plight.
Chris Petch spent Christmas in Mazar E Sharif after travelling out to the region with the aid organisation GOAL to help feed people in need.
Mr Petch, a 42-year-old former RAF squadron leader, said people in Afghanistan were struggling to keep warm in freezing conditions.
But he added: "Despite the obvious hardships, the people of this region have displayed great resilience. For myself and fellow GOAL worker, Mary Faherty, Christmas in Mazar was little different from any other day here.
"Our food was the same, because it never differs from day to day - bread and eggs for breakfast, bread and salad for lunch and rice and beans, with cauliflower for dinner."
Since arriving in Mazar several weeks ago Mr Petch and his colleagues have distributed 4,400 tonnes of wheat to more than 200,000 people.
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By Christmas they aimed to have delivered 270 tents, 72,700 blankets and a further 3,600 blankets specially designed for babies.
They had also set themselves a target of distributing 10,500 tarpaulins and plastic sheets, 1,000 mattresses, 6,000 cooking sets of pots and pans, 3,000 buckets, 11,000 jerry cans for water and 140 stoves.
Mr Petch, a former Woodbridge School pupil whose parents Anne and Henry still live in Ipswich, said: "Perhaps we can be forgiven for believing that we have started to make a difference to the plight of the millions of Afghans who are not as fortunate as you and me.
"More items will arrive after the New Year and the first phase of the food distribution to the 470,000 people will be complete.
"Then we will start the second phase of feeding and begin the complicated task of arranging for the scattered populations living in camps or draughty disused buildings or outhouses to return to their proper homes and to help them restart their lives.
"Christmas, for most is traditionally a time of peace to all. Afghanistan has not known real peace for over 20 years.
"But if the fighting stops and if the work we do in the coming months can lay the foundation for a better future, then the lack of mistletoe and mince pies will not seem so bad."