& Fort Freedom
I went to Pakistan in October of 1985 with Bob Brenner for the purpose of building a hospital to be used in the training of young Afghan men as combat medics in their war against Russia. Bob was a long time friend but asking me to go to Pakistan really pushed the envelope. I agreed to go on the condition that in three months time I would be back home safe and sound. Eight and a half years later, I finally left Pakistan ..... regretting not a day of the time spent there. The time was not all spent with the Afghans however, as our program was closed down after the Gulf war of '91. After the war settled down, and things sort of normalized I returned to Pakistan (we had been evacuated) to close down the program and immediately thereafter went to work for Encorp, an American construction company building an entire new agricultural university (USAID funded) in Peshawar. I was with Encorp for 3 1/2 years as general superintendent, leaving in May of '94. All in all a wonderful time of my life.
Fort Freedom: Ft. Freedom was located 90 miles or 150 Km South West of Peshawar near a small village of Thal. A large site, encompassing land on two sides of a main road running from Peshawar thru Kohat and on up thru Parachinar to the Afghan border. In fact, it was the only road near there. On the North side of the road was our housing for security, staff and students as well as classrooms and main dining facility. On the South side of the road was our 30 bed emergency surgical hospital and our expat staff housing. In accordance with the local customs the entire facility was surrounded by high sturdy walls. More pix will be added as I find them.
The following will give a glimpse into the life and times of the staff at Fort Freedom. It was crude, completely devoid of frills as our budget allowed for no more than this. I think that most everyone, if not everyone truly enjoyed the time spent here. I know I did. And I spent years there.
Building Fort Freedom:
We used Afghan refuge labor and during the height of construction we had 300 laborers on the payroll. We were hands down the largest employer within 60 or 70 miles save for the Pakistan army.
The Players and visitors at Fort Freedom
Traveling the roads at night was a major hazard. Wrecked two ambulances in as many nights. We then banned night time driving. Daytime driving wasn't all that great either.
The real inner workings of Fort Freedom. This was of course our student training program. The students received vital hands on training by being on call 24/7 for any medical emergency that came up. They worked along side American Drs and nurses.
Having a birthday Party, Peshawar, Sept 1986. Any excuse for a bit of fun.
Grad Day 5 April 1989
Playtime at "the Fort"
I found a hot air balloon in a bazaar. Didn't know what it was. They explained it and away we went. It was great, but we needed something bigger. So our staff or Dr's and Nurses got on their hands and knees and built one of newspaper. Of course it was way to heavy but it proved the concept. Actually flew, very ungainly, up and over the wall of our ex-pat quarters. Next we went into town and bought all the crepe paper they had and built one lovely item. Flew great. Everyone was in awe.
Thanksgiving at "the Fort"
We tried to celebrate our important holidays to give some normalcy to our living in the wilds. This was one of our largest productions. All Afghan Dr's and of course our expat staff. Gay Le Clerc did a fabulous job as always with her cooking skills. However we needed an oven, a large one. I said I would build one that would hold 3 or 4 turkeys and a chicken or two. It was a very crude outdoor oven made of layers of bricks with a flat steel door leaning against it. Crude but effective as the pix of the food and the people enjoying it will attest to.
Pakistan in all it's glory. It did have it's own beauty.
The American Club
Tragically I don't have many pix yet of my time with Encorp, the American construction company I worked for for 3 1/2 years. Hopefully I will find more.