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Monday, July 7, 2008

Afghanistan National Olympic Committee V

Reshad and I headed back down to Kabul, this time to meet with the Swim Chair at the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee.

I received a phone call from him yesterday, asking if we could meet. From my phone conversation with him, I believe that he does not speak any English. Luckily, Reshad was working late with me when the swim chair, Rohullah, called and Reshad found out when we would meet.

Rohullah’s office is down the road from the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee’s building. It is across the football (soccer) field, which was comprised primarily of dirt and no grass, in a small building behind a brick fence and aluminum/metal gate. The building he works in is used for community development.

When we arrived, it was very hot outside. There was no air conditioning in the dark office that someone sat us in. All of the curtains and windows were closed and there was one fan running. It was a little bit cooler in the office than it was outside, so it was a plus. While we were waiting for the swim chair, we were asked if we wanted anything to drink. We both still had some water, so we respectfully declined.

About 20 minutes after arriving, Rohullah arrived in the office with two other men. I do not know what the other men’s function in our meeting was but they were very attentive during the discussion. Once we introduced ourselves, Rohullah’s assistant brought us some tea. She was very quick and silent when she brought the tea but when she was putting the tea in front of me, she was asking me if I wanted something. I politely said no thank you, in Dari, but I do not know what I said no to.

Rohullah, and the other two gentlemen, were very interested in what I had to say. I gave them each copies of the presentations and went through each page with them. Rohullah did not share much with us during this meeting. I do not think it was because he did not speak any English. He just listened and asked an occasional question. I think he was very leery about me, an American who just shows up out of the blue. Another Westerner, full of promises to help their program. Case and point, he asked me “Are you going to be like every other Westerner who comes to us promising the world and then not doing anything?” I just responded by telling him that I had an idea and that I just wanted to help.

After Rohullah and his partners listened for a long time, he told me “The Olympic Committee gives us (The swimming federation) no money. What can you give us?” I can see what I am trying to get myself into. I also think that they think that I have alot of money.

At that point I told Reshad to politely tell Rohullah and his comrades that we had to go. We were there for a long time and needed to head back. We said goodbye to one another and we all walked out to Reshad’s vehicle together. As we got in the vehicle, I had a feeling that Rohullah would not be working with us on our idea.

It was very quiet during the drive back to Pol-e-Charki. I was processing all of the information from the meeting. I was dissecting the discussion word by word, occasionally asking Reshad what his thoughts were on the whole discussion. Reshad thought that it went well and that I was just overanalyzing it.

I don’t think that I will get another call from Rohullah…Only time will tell.

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