• About CIVIC

    CIVIC is a Washington-based non-profit organization that believes the civilians injured and the families of those killed should be recognized and helped by the warring parties involved.

    On this blog, you will find stories from our travels around the world as we meet with civilians and military, aid organizations and government in our quest to get war victims the help they need.

  • Countries

  • Contributors

    Sarah, Executive Director

    Marla B, Managing Director

    Kristele, Field Director

    Liz, Chief Communications Officer

    Trevor, CIVIC's fellow based in Afghanistan

    Chris, CIVIC's fellow based in Pakistan

    Jon, CIVIC's US military consultant

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Masood’s Story

Posted By: Erica

Not far from Hazi Sharif’s construction materials shop, I met a shy young man who was finishing his apprenticeship to become a mechanic. “I was a student of [the senior mechanic]” Masood told me, “but now I am better than he is.”

Masood was not always so beaming. In December 2006, Masood, then 17, was walking home from school when a suicide bomber targeting a nearby convoy of Afghan National Army and Coalition Forces blew himself up a few meters away. Three others who were walking with Masood were killed, and three other nearby civilians were injured. Masood’s wounds were severe — he was hospitalized for one month after the incident for shrapnel and blast wounds to his head, and to his right arm and leg.

Masood had started learning mechanics part-time in addition to school before he was injured, so when The US-funded program for war victims — ACAP — came to him and told him abou what they could do to help him, he said he would like to become a mechanic. ACAP arranged vocational training with a local, experienced mechanic, and is also helping to provide some specialized machinery to help the business grow. Masood is the oldest of seven children and plays a big role in supporting them, so ACAP has also arranged to provide his siblings with school materials. Efforts like efforts like these to efforts like these to help war victims are so important in conflict — and so often overlooked by the warring parties. This US program should be a model in other places where civilians’ lives are torn apart by war.

Masood says he is fully recovered now, although his right arm is still not as strong as it used to be. He never lets that interfere with his work, though, he is quick to add.

Photo of Masood’s shop.

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Hazi’s Story Continued

Posted By: Erica

[Read the First Part]

When the dust settled, the southern half of Hazi Sharif’s home had collapsed. Four members of his family were dead as were another two women from his nephew’s family. Rokia, an elderly relative, was rushing to help other family members when the second bomb exploded nearby. When I visited Rokia she showed me the deep scars left by the shrapnel all along the left side of her body and on parts of her right leg. Her granddaughter, Sobhara, was with Rokia at the time and lost her right leg in the explosion.
“When the incident happened, the Americans announced ‘We are sorry, that was not our intention. Our intention was to hit the Taliban.'” Hazi Sharif told me, “When we heard this, what could we do? We had already lost everything. Mistakes happen but our family members had already lost their lives and [those who] were not killed, we could not get our lives back.”

ACAP first heard about Hazi’s family in the summer of 2007 and immediately began getting the funds approved and trying to find ways to help their family. To help pay for the family’s medical expenses and the reconstruction of their family home, Hazi Sharif started a construction supply business. ACAP does not provide monetary aid but instead was able to provide Hazi with cement and other construction materials that would help him expand his business. One of Hazi’s sisters, who also lost a leg in the bombing, was given an embroidery machine to help contribute to the family needs and start her own embroidery business.

Two other members of the extended family, Hazi Nabi and his brother, used to drive supply trucks but their trucks were destroyed in another bombardment and they could not afford to replace them. Instead they started a wood-chopping business. ACAP donated the necessary tools and supplies they needed to further grow their business. ACAP also donated a sewing machine and accessories to the women of the family and school materials for the children of the family

Photo of Members of Hazi Nabi’s family at the wood-cutting shop that ACAP helped him expand.

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Hazi’s Story

Posted By: Erica

In December 2001, US forces were engaged in heavy bombing in the Paktia province, one of the last refuges of the Taliban. Many innocent civilians also lost their lives, including several family members of a man named Hazi Sharif, who shared his story with me. A rocket that was intended for a key Taliban spokesman instead tore through the side of Hazi’s house (see picture). The roof collapsed, trapping the many women and children of Hazi’s family who had taken shelter there. As other family members and neighbors rushed to rescue trapped family members from the rubble, a second bomb exploded, killing one mother and one 14-year-old girl, and injuring one elderly woman.

When the bombing finally stopped, and Hazi and his remaining family members were able to unearth the wreckage, they discovered that four members of Hazi’s family had lost their lives, and two were seriously injured. In the next post, I’ll share what happened to the family afterwards and how the ACAP program that Sarah mentioned in the last post was able to assist them.

Photo of Hazi Sharif’s wrecked house. Hazi Sharif holding it, one of his daughters in the background (top); Sister-in-law of Hazi Sharif, killed in Dec. 2001 bombing, Paktia province (bottom).

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Photos of Afghanistan, Pt. 1

Posted By: Erica
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A note on ACAP from CIVIC’s home office

Posted By: Sarah

Well, we’re using a lot of acronyms here. So I thought I’d clarify things a bit.  The Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (what we call ACAP) was created by Senator Leahy with the help of our own Marla Ruzicka.  It helps war victims unintentionally created by the US military its allies there in Afghanistan.  I visited a few projects when I was in the country and was utterly impressed by how just a little money can change for the better lives of war victims.  Erica’s over there now and seeing these projects for herself.  Our hope is that we can get NATO countries (rather than just the United States) to donate funds to this amazing program

 If you live in a NATO country, please get in touch.  We have a letter writing campaign for you!

Some background on ACAP…

Posted By: Erica

Today I accompanied the team that works on the Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP) to one of their field offices in a province near Kabul. The local staff here are extremely dedicated to the project but often overwhelmed by the challenges of operating in such a difficult environment. They cover not just their own province but two adjacent provinces — a vast chunk of territory with parts of it cut off by impassable, snow-covered cliffs or no-go zones. For example, there is one community where the entire village was devastated by international military operations in 2002, but the security situation in the surrounding area is so bad that no relief agency has been able to get to them to provide the necessary assistance. The ACAP program is currently working with provincial governors and local community leaders to change that, but with only a few staff members and limited resources, getting help to this one village has proved daunting.

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Kabul then and now…

Posted By: Erica

021608bFridays are the only “weekend” day here since Afghanistan has a six-day work week. On my Friday-weekend, I decided to get out of the office-home-office routine to get a better sense of Kabul. I have an Afghan-American friend here who grew up in Kabul but was sent to the States in the early 70s for high school and college. He drove me through his childhood neighborhood nearby Darulaman Palace, which was built by King Amannullah in the 1920s. Once an imposing, neo-classical palace, Darulaman Palace is now a skeleton of smashed columns and bombed out cupolas, with barbed wire chaining off parts of it.

The boulevard leading up to the palace is long and wide, and used to be lined with poplar trees. It is now lined with bullet-pocked buildings and shells of former neighborhoods. The road has as many potholes as smooth patches, but my friend said it used to be the best in Kabul. So good that it was the place Afghan kids would take their parents’ cars and go drag racing (at the risk of getting caught by the curmudgeony old Policeman who usually stood guard). Continue reading