The venue of the workshop is one of the specialized hospitals in the city. This is a Russian heritage – specialized hospitals. Kabul is full of them.

When you cannot come in through the side door (arriving before 8 AM) you have to go to the backdoor. There doesn’t seem to be a front door. The back door leads you into the hospital, up the stairs where some of the wards are. Men and women mill around, surprisingly, but I assume the wards are segregated.

The place is dark and dungy, not a place I’d associated with healing. The floors are dirty, there are hundreds of cartons stacked against a wall and it is hard to distinguish between hospital staff, patients and visitors; a few white robed figures are, presumably part of the staff but I cannot tell whether they are aids, nurses, doctors or technicians.

To get to the conference room and the offices of our staff a locked gate has to be opened. Behind the gate the paint is new, there is a carpeted runner and a large very warm conference room which is my home for this week.

There is a bathroom on the hospital side of the gate that is is also used as a kitchen. On our side of the gate there is a very clean woman’s bathroom but not one for the men, surprisingly. Maybe, when the gate was installed one of the bathrooms became all purpose.

Our women’s bathroom has three stalls – on the inside of each stall someone wrote in black permanent marker, and in English, ‘woman’s bathroom’ with the number of the stall (1, 2 or 3). It is not clear why it is on the inside rather than the outside; the latter may have discouraged men to go to the women’s bathroom and look for their own. Once they are inside the stall the message comes too late.

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February 2014
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