ACCEPTED INTO THE FAMILY Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part 5)

Baluchistan Province, Pakistan: Saturday March 16, 1996: Ghafoor Kasi began to explain to me some of his frustrations with his job. He said that all of Baluchistan Province, including the city of Quetta, is divided into A and B sections. Neither the police nor the military have any jurisdic­tion over the B areas, even if someone commits murder. Furthermore, if someone commits a crime in the A area, which is just a very small fraction of the city, and can get over into the B area before he gets caught, the police cannot ever pursue the criminal into the B area. An additional issue that frustrates law and order is the fact that military personnel are totally immune to prosecution, even in cases of rape or murder.

Dr. Malik Kasi had told me one time when we were together that he and his wife were traveling through Iran back in the 1970s and stopped for the night at an inn. While they slept they were robbed of all their money and valuables, and in addition he was absolutely certain that the innkeeper was serving up roasted human flesh for the evening meal.

Eventually Khursheed, Ghafoor, and I ended up at their Baluchistan friend’s Persian carpet shop. Dr. Kasi had sent a message to the shopkeepers telling them that a very dear friend of his, who looked like a white Englishman, was coming to their shop, and that they should give me the best deal.

I suppose we spent at least an hour at the cramped upstairs shop, which was stuffed with roll after roll of handwoven silk and wool carpets. When we walked away, I was the proud owner of two exquisite, small carpets, two of the red carpet pillows like the ones in the Kasis’ homes, and an antique wool and silk hanging that had been used for heaven knows how long out on the desert camel caravan trail as a doorway closing for the corner door of a tent.

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Before we left the shop, I had several pictures taken with my camera of the salesmen, the shopkeepers, Ghafoor, Chief, and me and my carpets.

With my treasures loaded into Chief’s Toyota pickup truck, we headed to one of their favorite tea spots near the large military complex. There I was introduced to another senior tribal member.

I doubt that we Americans will ever understand the family structure and culture of that ancient area. When the younger family members meet one of the senior tribesmen—in this case, Ghafoor and Khursheed were only a tad bit younger—the elder is revered and honored by the younger family member dropping to one knee, taking the right hand of the elder, and kissing it as the elder kisses the top of the younger one’s head. There is never a question of pecking order in such a culture.

At the tea house I was also introduced to another young cousin, who had just returned from Iran. Before he could leave the table where the older tribesmen were sitting, he had to go through a ritual of getting himself excused from that table so that he could come join us at our table.

We all gathered at Dr. Malik Kasi’s home tonight for dinner. Of course, just the menfolk showed their faces. A huge table was spread with dishes included that I never knew existed. In fact, I still don’t know what some of them were. Dr. Kasi’s two sons-in-law joined us for dinner, as did the adopted “hashish” brother. It was really a great time of getting acquainted and relaxing.

Following dinner we all retired to the visiting room, where we had been for tea late yesterday after­noon. There we were served tea along with nuts, dried fruits, sugar-coated almonds, and other great munchies. We spent until 11:30 p.m. talking about Greek and Persian history, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great right on up through the partitioning of India and Pakistan by Lord Mountbatten of England.

With a time difference of exactly twelve hours from Evergreen, Colorado, my body is still con­fused about when it should sleep and when it should be awake. But early morning risings and late-night bedtimes have me tired enough to sleep standing up in the shower with the water running.

Sunday, March 17

While I was at Dr. Kasi’s house for dinner last night, Dr. Buzdar finished his neurosurgeries and came by the hotel at about 9:30 p.m. looking to have a cup of tea with me. He left a note with the front desk requesting that we get together for lunch today. I tried to reach him by phone to confirm before I went down to breakfast but was unable to get through to him.

At 9:30 a.m., Dr. Qazi, deputy director of the hospital, arrived at the hotel to take me back to the hospital. On the way he started shedding a little light on what had been happening. It appeared that a process was going on whereby the entire administration of the hospital was being removed and placed into other government projects. Dr. Zehri was gone, along with others I had met in December. Dr. Qazi was very worried because he had heard from three different rumor sources the day before that he was next to get the ax.

At Dr. Qazi’s office, Dr. Malik Kasi and his protégé were there to meet me. They wanted me to visit the school and meet the teacher who had educated most of the immediate Kasi tribe. The school is called St. Mary’s and is run by Rachael Nathaniel, who came from Bombay, India, and started a school in the Quetta area forty-one years ago. She is a devout Christian and has served alone all these years, teaching the Muslim children. Now the church that owns the school building is putting the pressure on her financially, and it looks like she will have to close the school.

I am sure that it was Dr. Kasi’s wife who suggested that I be taken to see Rachael Nathaniel. Thirteen of the Kasi clan are now enrolled at the school, and it was with Rachael that Dr. Kasi’s wife had lived and learned such good English before she married Dr. Kasi. It was a great honor to meet the dedicated lady, and indeed, she has done phenomenal missions work, but I don’t see, at the moment, how Project C.U.R.E. can be of assistance. The local Muslims need to step up to the bat to help save her school. They are the ones who have benefited and are benefiting from her good work.

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On our way back to the hospital, the two doctors found a parking place right in the heart of Quetta, and they told me we were going to visit a very important coffee house. Historically, it had been the meeting place where all the different tribal elders would come to do busi­ness. It was definitely old English Colony India. The coffee house was round and totally windowed on the walls. It looked out over a small parklike area that had a raised concrete patio overflowing with bearded Pakistani men sitting at tables. Everything that happens in Baluchistan probably starts there. Dr. Kasi thoroughly enjoyed tak­ing me around to the elders and introducing me to them.

At the hospital it was time to completely tour Dr. Kasi’s domain. He has headed up the pediatrics department at the hospital for years, as well as being the major pediatrics professor at Bolan Medical College.

I thought I had a rough time handling some of the scenes yesterday, but seeing ward after ward of babies with tuberculosis of the brain, acute encephalitis, and the final stages of severe malnutrition in the pediatrics department really zapped me emotionally. The thought went through my mind, Will I ever get used to this exposure? In some ways I hope so; in some ways I hope not.

At 1:00 p.m., I went to another office to wait for Dr. Buzdar’s driver to come and pick me up for lunch. I really wasn’t very hungry, but it wasn’t going to be as easy to skip lunch today as it was yesterday. We were joined at lunch by a colleague of Dr. Buzdar, another brain surgeon. Dr. Buzdar was really disappointed that we had not been able to spend as much time together as we had on my previous trip. We reminisced about carpet shopping, and I renewed my invitation for him to come to my home in Colorado and see the carpets he helped me buy.

He told me that he is still planning to come to San Diego on June 24 to attend a neurology semi­nar there, and then he wants to drive or take the train from California to Denver before heading back to Pakistan. It really is a blessing to have a home where I feel comfortable inviting all these international friends. I’ll bet that’s why God hasn’t allowed Anna Marie and me to give it away yet.

I had the brain surgeons drop me off at my hotel on their way back to the hospital. It was about time for my appointment with Ghafoor and Chief. They came just as soon as Ghafoor could leave work. He really is Mr. Important in the constabulary and occupies a large front corner office at the police complex. His duties included not just Quetta but the entire Baluchistan region. It really is amazing that he and Chief had taken as much time off as they had to host me. I certainly appreciated it.

We went on an excursion up into the mountains and past the manmade lake where I had gone with Dr. Buzdar on my last trip. However, we continued on higher into the coal fields and through several military encampments. I saw many caves and mine tunnels.

Surrounding Quetta are high mountain ranges with peaks that stay snow covered all year long. My hosts told me stories of how they would climb the mountains during the summer when they were kids and bring snow home on donkeyback to make ice cream.

It was getting dark by the time we left, but my two friends wanted to make one more stop and introduce me to another cousin who is a civil engineer with the government. Rauf Kasi lives in a spectacular two-story home that had just recently been completed. It is in a very new area that is probably one of the most exclusive in Quetta.

As we talked and got acquainted, he was just full of questions about me personally and about Project C.U.R.E. He said, “There had to be something that happened in your life that made you decide to do what you are now doing and do it without pay.”

I said, “Yes, there was something definite and distinct that happened in my life that changed my value system and moved me from success to significance.” Since he asked, I proceeded to give them my personal testimony. Tears were welling up in Rauf’s eyes when we finished. I thought to myself, Yup, God speaks to Muslims.

Ghafoor had to preside at some big police function tonight and was not going to be able to join Chief and me for dinner. When we dropped him off at police headquarters, the Balochistan advance fighting team, sort of like the Green Beret unit in the US, was getting ready to rehearse for their evening performance.

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They were dressed in white ceremonial uniforms with long, red-trimmed coats. There was one drummer and one wind-instrument player, and the rest of the troupe did the tribal war dances. The musical instrument sounded a lot like the music from a bagpipe, only he had to stop the music once and a while between notes to take a breath.

Ghafoor summoned the team over, introduced me to them, and had them perform in front of the headlights of Chief’s truck.

Dinner alone with Chief tonight gave me a great opportunity to get acquainted with him. We talked a lot about his orchard farming and his four kids. Back to the hotel about 11:30 p.m.

As I was getting ready for bed, I recalled some of the different pieces of advice that Dr. Kasi had given me while we were together:

    1.    “Stay away from the mosques.” Many of the simple Muslims have been unfairly brainwashed about infidels. It’s a good practice to avoid danger by just staying away. A story is told about an infidel running out across the desert. When stopped and asked why, he replied that a decree had been given to kill all the camels near the mosque. “But you are not a camel” came the response. “I know,” the infidel retorted. “But by the time I could explain that, it would be too late.”

    2.    When I asked Dr. Kasi to give me advice about buying Persian carpets, he said, “If you, Mr. Jackson, wanted to have great financial success, you would begin going through our country and purchasing old Muslim prayer carpets. There are very rare carpets now available dating back hundreds of years, and no one here wants to charge much for a prayer carpet. But soon they will be very valuable historically.”

    3.    I asked where I could go to the toilet. His reply, “Go anywhere you would like; 90 percent of the people consider Pakistan a toilet.”

    4.    He also advised that I learn some simple Baluchistan greetings: “I’m glad you arrived safe, and no one killed you” (a very common greeting because of the danger and lawlessness); “I hope you have rested”; “No one else is happy in this province; I hope you are”; and “I sincerely hope you are not constipated.”

Monday, March 18

When I returned to my room after breakfast this morning, I received a phone call from someone claiming he was from the office of the secretary of health. He told me that I must come down and sign a large number of documents regarding the cargo container in Karachi. I would also have to make additional arrangements to pay for a tax-exempt status for my organization; and fur­ther, I needed to pay a large amount of money to ship the container from Karachi to Quetta.

Working in Third World countries is not for the newly initiated or naive. I still have times when I mess up, even though I’ve worked in this arena for nearly fifteen years. But fortunately, I read this caller correctly: He simply was going to extort money from me, and I somewhat politely told him to take a long walk off a short dock.

I packed everything and headed for the front desk to check out of the hotel and be ready for Dr. Kasi, who was going to arrive at 9:30 a.m. to take me to the airport. At the front desk was Dr. Qazi, waiting to tell me that it looked official that he would be transferred from the hospital administration position, so he would probably not see me again if I came to the hospital in the future. But he wanted to give me a way to get ahold of him when I return to Quetta on my next trip. He hugged me and hugged me and cried as I left. I knew he was wishing that he had some other option this morning than staying the rest of his life in Quetta, Pakistan.

On the way to the airport, I again invited Dr. Kasi to come to Colorado. I told him how much I appreciated his sharing his family with me. He reached out his hand to shake mine and said, “God willing, we shall be friends forever.” I wish some way that could be true.

At the airport I gave Dr. Kasi a complete set of all correspondence, documents, and fax messages regarding Project C.U.R.E.’s transactions with the Quetta hospital and told him that he could refer to those documents regarding any questions or situations in the future.

Next Week: All Things Are Ready for the Banquet.

ABSOLUTELY NO RULE OF LAW IN PAKISTAN Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part 4)

Quetta, Pakistan: Friday March 25, 1996: I continued to meet Kasi family members everywhere I turned. They told me that all the area that is now Quetta had once belonged to the tribe. Then the British came, and they had to sell much of the farmland to the foreigners. But they were still able to retain large tracts of land and lots of houses in and around the parts of Quetta that used to be their village.

We all motored over to Dr. Kasi’s house. Since the father and the oldest brother are dead, Dr. Malik Kasi is the senior tribesman and lives in his father’s house. Other brothers live within a stone’s throw inside the compound. Going inside was again like entering a carpet and porcelain museum—high ceilings, beautiful wooden stairways, double wooden doors, fine Persian silk, and woolen carpets. Again we drew up carpet pillows, had tea and fruit, and talked. The men invited me to go to a special barbecue place for dinner at 8:00 p.m.

When the other brothers, nephews, cousins, and family members left, Dr. Kasi and I began to talk about the carpets. I asked him if he would teach me how to recognize good carpets and give me an idea about pricing. He was flattered. We went through the whole house, room by room, and he explained the styles, designs, weights, and different geographical areas of the weaving. He then asked me if I would like to go out to a home and see how the family gets involved in weaving a carpet. Of course I said, “Yes!”

As we were leaving Dr. Kasi disappeared for a few minutes, and soon he and his wife appeared with a very, very fine, small carpet. She said that they wanted for me to please accept it as a gift from their collection. She said that the doctor was so pleased to have some­one to talk to about history and carpets. Of course I accepted!

It was very dark by now as we left the gated compound and headed through the village streets. Dr. Kasi had brought both of his young sons with him. That put some of my fears at ease. We drove probably seven or eight miles out into the desert, where we came to a village of mud buildings surrounded by high mud walls. We turned in between two local food shops, where they were still doing night-time business by the light of lanterns.

The pathway we fol­lowed was one that Dr. Kasi had followed one time about a year earlier when he had come to treat the wife of the house who was extremely ill with a life-threatening sickness. The high mud walls lining the narrow passageway allowed very little room on either side of the car. The center of the pathway was where all the sewer and wastewater collected and eventually col­lected in a ditch that ran along a railroad track on its way somewhere into the desert. A door opened in the wall, and lantern light from one of the mud houses streamed into the passageway. Two men stepped out in front of Dr. Kasi’s car. Fortunately the men were very friendly and insisted that we come in and eat with them and meet their special guests, who had arrived from Turkey. We politely turned them down, but they became quite insistent that we at least come in and have green tea with them.

Dr. Kasi hastily tried to explain to me that the Muslim culture in that part of the world demands that they take good care of pilgrims or travelers and not leave them out alone at night. It is a great insult if you refuse the offer. We continued to protest and asked them to please give us directions to the carpet weaver’s house. The two men finally agreed and ran ahead of the car lights to show us the way. The passageway in places was so soggy with the sewer water mixed with the recent rain that we very nearly got stuck several times. The thought ran through my mind how impossible it would be to ever solve the mystery of my disappearance in a situation like this if, in the darkness of the desert, someone wanted to rob and kill me. There is no law and order out here, and very little chance that anyone would ever try to pursue the matter.

Enough of that! We arrived at the correct doorway, and a very Mongol-Chinese-looking Asian man warmly welcomed us into the home. The first room housed the family’s valued posses­sion—a donkey with a feed bag strapped around its head. Eventually we came into a large open area where the family was gathered around a warm charcoal fire built on the dirt floor. All the family members surrounded Dr. Kasi when they recognized him. He was obviously their hero. In fact, all the children were named in one way or another after him.

The large open area also housed a horizontal loom set up off the floor about eight inches. When the family understood that Dr. Kasi had brought me to see them do a little carpet weaving, one of the daughters jumped right over to the apparatus, pushed the shuttle mechanism forward, and began stringing woolen threads, which had been wrapped around sticks of wood, through the lateral base strings. She was really very confident and quick. Then, with some wooden tools, she beat the new strings compactly into place before she pulled the shuttle handles back to align everything.

I asked Dr. Kasi what they used as a pattern for such a complicated design. He said, “There is no written-down design. It has been memorized and passed down from mother to daughter for years and years. A girl is very valuable and has greatly increased marriage qualities if she possesses the memory of such a design.”

A family keeps the carpet weaving going almost constantly by having each member take turns helping. It takes them several months to finish a carpet.

In order to help us get out of the sloppy, stinky maze of walls and bogs, one of the young men of the family, whose job it was to drive the donkey cart, rode with us all the way out to the main road, giving us directions like a pro. Tough luck, but he had to walk in the dark all the way back to his mud house.

On the way back to town, I took the opportunity to quietly share with Dr. Kasi how God changed my life and the details of how I got involved in Project C.U.R.E.

We were about twenty minutes late when we arrived at the barbecue restaurant. Abdul Ghafoor Kasi, the policeman, and his nephew Khursheed Kasi, the family orchard farmer, were already there. We had a splendid time eating skewered goat meat and some kind of bird meat and who-knows-what-else meat dipped in dif­ferent yogurt concoctions and laced with high-powered herbs and spices. Once again I prayed like crazy for an immune system equal to the occasion.

I returned to the hotel about 11:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 16

This morning Dr. Roohullah Mohammed Qazi called my hotel room from the lobby. No returned phone call; he just showed up. I didn’t know for certain whom I was talking to or whether he said Qazi or Kasi, so I told him that I would come right down to the lobby. He was ready to take me to the hospital, but I explained that another Dr. Munir Kasi was going to pick me up momentarily and take me to the office of Mohammed Irfan Kasi, the secretary of health for the government of Baluchistan. While we waited, Dr. Qazi and I went to the coffee shop for tea.

Right at 10:00 a.m., Dr. Munir Kasi came to the hotel desk. I explained that Dr. Qazi was there, and if Dr. Munir preferred, I could ride to the hospital with him. He said no; he had brought the secretary of health with him to the hotel, and he was waiting at a corner table in the lobby to see me.

I started from the beginning of the story with the secretary. We discussed several technical points, and then he gave me the assurance that he would oversee the safe passage of the containers through customs and then from Karachi to Quetta.

At the hospital Dr. Qazi took me to his office. His delay at the hotel with me had caused a real traffic jam in his office. We called one of his doctors to give me a complete tour of the hospital facilities. I spent until the middle of the afternoon viewing some really pathetic sights. To see a lot of what I have to view on the needs-assessment parts of my trips often leaves me absolutely emotionally wiped out.

Out on the sidewalks in front of the entrance of the different wards were sick people lying on blankets or pads provided by family members, who were huddled around them. Lots of mothers, whose heads and faces were completely covered, squatted on the ground holding disgustingly dirty and terribly sick babies.

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Ward after ward, building after building, it was like a never-ending sea of sickness. The doctor who was giving me the tour said that people would travel hundreds of miles to get help from the hospital. They would even come south from the inte­rior of Afghanistan with their old people and sick kids.

On the rounds through the different wards, I ran into Dr. Buzdar just getting ready to scrub and go into brain surgery. We hugged, and he was so happy to see me. He said that he had received word that I was coming to Quetta just the day before. Again, it made me wonder about all the fax messages I had sent. Somewhere there had to be one huge pile of fax papers being held on someone’s desk.

Later I went back to the hotel. I had gone right through lunch. That really wasn’t much of a problem, however. Someplace in the hospital I had lost my appetite.

At 4:00 p.m. Abdul Ghafoor Kasi and his nephew Khur­sheed, whom by now I was calling by his nickname “Chief,” came to pick me up at the hotel. We drove all through the bazaar and market areas of the city. There were literally thousands of small shops selling everything you could imagine.

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They explained to me that some of it was cheap stuff left behind in Afghanistan when the Russians pulled out. But almost all the merchandise had been smuggled in over old historic trade routes once used by camel caravans from Iran, Afghanistan, and as far away as India, Turkmenistan, and China. Loads of electronics and audio-video equipment were for sale, which had been stolen from the ports in Karachi. Thousands of motorbikes and motorcycles were smuggled into Quetta, broken down into parts, and then reassembled and sold.

What I am learning about Pakistan is that there is absolutely no rule of law and order that governs the average person. Now I am beginning to understand a little better about the news­paper articles I’ve been reading in the local paper—the little boy the police recovered from a man in Quetta, who had abducted the boy from his home in Karachi to be sold into forced labor in Kabul, Afghanistan; a tribal dispute that broke out not far from my hotel in Quetta over a building being erected on a questioned site, which resulted in four killed on the spot and five more in critical condition; people in Hyderabad begging for some relief from the bandits in the area, who charge each individual two hundred thousand rupees for “protection.” If the money is not paid, the bandits start killing members of the families one at a time. In fact, the military has completely pulled out of much of Karachi because it is too dangerous to be in that city.

Next Week: Being Totally Accepted into the Family

SEPARATED OUT FROM THE REST OF THE HERD? Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part3)

Quetta, Pakistan: Thursday March, 15, 1996: I decided at about 8:30 p.m. to go to the coffee shop and eat some dinner and work on another strat­egy. I began to think, These people really don’t give too much of a rip about $500,000 worth of medical stuff!

At dinner I decided that, most important, if I had to start all over with a government health secretary or someone else, I had better be supplied with the information I had left in the file at the Denver office. The time difference between Quetta and Denver is exactly twelve hours. I guessed that made sense—the two places are exactly on the other side of the world from each other. So following dinner I waited until 10:00 p.m. in Quetta to call Ruth at the Denver office, allowing her time to settle into the day at 10:00 a.m. I eventually got through to her, explained my situation, and asked her to fax to the hotel all the necessary documents.

Friday, March 15

In the morning all the papers Ruth had faxed were at the front desk. After breakfast I received a phone call from Dr. Malik Kasi, a doctor I had not met on my previous trip. I thought when he introduced himself on the phone that his name was Dr. Qazi, a doctor whom I had met. He said that he would be busy today. I briefly explained to him my plight and my concern for the container that was being ignored at the Port of Karachi. I nearly begged him to allow me to meet with him today to explain in full detail. He offered to invite me to his farm and have coffee with him. I told him I neither had his address nor any transportation. I asked if he could send his driver for me. He admitted that he had no driver but would come to the hotel perhaps around 10:30, 11:00, or so.

I stayed in my room, close to the phone, from that moment on. Here was my first opportunity to maybe talk to a real live person who might shed some light on the mysterious situation.

Ten o’clock came … 10:30 … 11:00 … 12:00 … nothing. Oh no, not more waiting! One o’clock … 2:00, 3:00. I had not moved from my room. Suddenly a note was slid under my door. I jumped up, grabbed it, read it. The time listed on the note was 9:40 a.m. Dr. Malik Kasi, had been there looking for me and had left at 9:40 a.m. I had a feeling that the scene at the front desk was not going to be a pretty one. Indeed, I did have considerable pent-up frustration.

I headed to the desk and calmly asked for some explanation. If someone was looking for me at the front desk, why was I not notified of such by phone in my room? And why, if all that had taken place at 9:40 a.m., would anyone wait until 3:00 p.m. to deliver the note?

Most of the people behind the desk scattered. No doubt they sensed the intensity in my calm. I went through several folks before I got to the shift manager. He sug­gested that perhaps my room phone was not working. I acknowledged that as a distinct possibility and gave my apologies if that were the case. We checked out the phone … That was not the case. I explained to the manager that I had not moved an inch from the room since breakfast, that I had been waiting for the man’s visit, and that this visit was very important. Addi­tionally, he was now gone, and I had no phone number for him over the weekend and no address to use as a follow-up.

The manager offered to personally find Dr. Kasi’s address and go there to see if he could return to the hotel. He was good to his word. About one hour later, Dr. Malik Kasi knocked on my hotel-room door. I cheerfully greeted him and suggested that we go to the coffee shop so that I could buy him a cup of tea.

Naturally he was quite reserved and cautious. I joked and told him that perhaps he could shed some light on a very great mystery. His eyes got big. I then went on to tell him the whole story of my originally coming to Quetta in December 1995, meeting the many people, doing the Needs Assess­ment Study, and then returning to the United States.

I showed Dr. Kasi all the fax messages and documents I had sent so many times via fax, e-mail, and finally through the counsul at the Pakistan embassy in Washington, D.C. I told him that I never received a reply to any of my messages. But I presumed that someone, somewhere was getting them. So I came to Quetta anyway. But to my surprise, no one was at the airport to meet me, and no reservations were made for me at the Serena Hotel. “You are the first live person who has responded to my many calls,” I told him. “I was beginning to believe that either I was going crazy or I was in the wrong Quetta.”

He asked several pertinent questions and was trying to figure out why he had never been brought into any of the factors regarding this whole matter. He said, “Let’s go now. I know where Zehri and Buzdar live. We will go directly to their homes.”

On the way we went past the house of one of his cousins, the Dr. Kasi who picked me up at the airport on my first trip. He came out to the car, dirty, unshaven … sort of a mess. Dr. Malik Kasi said, “Look, he sees you and he is embarrassed.” The younger Dr. Kasi admitted that he had been given instructions to take care of my getting picked up at the airport, and that he had delegated the task to a very reliable man, et cetera, et cetera.

Now, at last, I knew for certain that someone had made them aware of my arrival. We went to Dr. Zehri’s home, but the houseman said he would not be back until late Sunday. (I had been told he would be gone until November … Perhaps I hadn’t understood.) Dr. Buzdar was not at home either.

As we drove, Dr. Malik Kasi began to explain what he thought was going on. He said that in 1988, while the Russians were in Afghanistan, just a couple of miles away, the US and other foreign organizations began pouring aid into Quetta and all of Pakistan to reinforce the border and help the people. Most of the UN and humanitarian organizations were very lazy and would simply send lots of stuff, and particularly lots of cash, with almost no accountability. Officials had gotten used to simply diverting those things into instant riches for themselves, millions of dollars at a time.

“When the parents are petty thieves,” Dr. Kasi told me, “the children grow up to be big robbers.” He said that they never expected you would come back or do any other follow-up. So they encouraged the distancing by ignoring communica­tions, counting on your not having time or intent to do a follow-up assessment.

I was angry. I was pleased that I was finally getting some information. Mostly I was excited to have made the acquaintance with Dr. Malik Kasi. Right before I received the note under my hotel door, I had the telephone in my hand to start another calling barrage. But I was checked in my spirit by God, who instructed me, “I have this whole situation under control. Don’t mess up the timing. Don’t get others involved at this point. Just wait … You’ll see.”

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We stopped at one of Dr. Malik Kasi’s farms, where his brother (adopted into the family as an orphaned child) managed the farm and a large orchard. He had an interesting philosophy of life. Since the oldest brother of the family had been assassinated on one of their village roads, this brother’s attitudes and lifestyle had changed. Dr. Kasi said that the oldest brother was the favorite and sharpest son of the family, and everyone liked him. The assassination was such a terrible shock that the adopted brother never really regained his life. “He offers free food at the farm to anyone who needs it,” Dr. Kasi told me. Additionally, he runs sort of a “hashish smoking orchard.” He grows and gives away free smokes of hashish to anyone who wants to come to the orchard. He has found that smoking hashish eases his pain, and he offers to do the same for others who need it.

I asked Dr. Kasi if all that wasn’t contrary to the Muslim requirements. He said that the consumption of alcohol is strictly forbidden, but when the Koran was written, the people knew nothing about drugs, so they were not banned. The brother will sometimes have two thousand people out in the orchards just sitting under the trees smoking free hashish, blasted out of their minds.

From the farm we drove through the Kasi village, down the Kasi road (named after the assassi­nated brother), and to the old home compound that has existed on the spot for nearly two hundred years. It is where the great-grandfather had built a “modern” home and guesthouses inside a high-walled compound. Dr. Kasi’s youngest brother, Quetta’s chief of police, now lives there with his family.

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We entered one of the guest areas where they receive visitors. A gas “fireplace” was burning, taking the chill from the old building. All the floors were covered with gorgeous Per­sian carpets, and the room walls were lined with pillows constructed with Persian carpets about thirty-six inches by twenty inches, sewn together and stuffed with cotton. Tea and condiments were quickly served on the floor, and each man took a pillow and pulled it up close to the fire. Some sat on the pillows, including me, and some sat on the carpets and leaned back against the pillows.

One end of the room was a shelved display area for a collection of extremely rare Gardner and Romanov porcelain pieces. I hadn’t the goofiest idea of the value of the collection. Over the fireplace, on the mantle, were pictures of the police chief with important dignitaries. Also displayed was a badge from someplace in Maryland and an arm patch of that police unit. The brother had been trained near Washington, D.C., in 1988 by US Army Special Forces and Secret Service as part of the US security involvement in the US-Russian stand-off on the Afghani­stan-Pakistan border.

Next Week: I Was Learning That There is Absolutely No Rule of Law in Pakistan

THE SITUATION TURNS VERY STRANGE IN QUETTA - Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part 2)

Islamabad, Pakistan: Wednesday March 13, 1996: On Monday I had gotten up in Evergreen at 4:30 a.m. to catch the plane to New York. It was a long flight from New York to Amsterdam, Netherlands. But it was an even longer flight from Amsterdam to Islamabad, Pakistan. I had time in Amsterdam to get off the plane, stretch, and walk around while they cleaned and refueled the plane.

I landed in Islamabad early this morning—Wednesday, March 13. That is a long time to be in the same clothes with no chance to shower. Fortunately the Marriott hotel in Islamabad had a record of my reservation even though there was a small verbal fight when they tried to charge me nearly twice as much as when I stayed there only a little over ninety days ago. Lucky for me I had my hotel receipts with me from the previous trip as overwhelming and prevailing evidence.

At 9:00 a.m. after having breakfast at the hotel, I checked in with the US embassy in Isla­mabad. Throughout my travels I have found that it is a very wise policy to touch base with US governmental officials upon arrival in a given country. I know that a lot of travelers ignore that policy and just go about their business. But I check in with the embassy and tell them why I am in the country, where I will be, and for how long. I then have a reference point and a face-with-a name relationship in case any problems arise or I am in need of some quick advice. The officials appreciate my cooperation since, in a way, they are responsible for me as a citizen while I am in the country, and they are always eager to give me any tips on what to watch out for and where and where not to go. Additionally, it is a comfort to my family and office back home if they know that the embassy can get ahold of me in case of an emer­gency at home.

The meeting at the embassy went well. We talked about Project C.U.R.E. and what I hoped to get accomplished. The lady I met with at the embassy, Sherri Worthington, is an economist. Following my meeting I had a taxi driver return me to the hotel. My trip back to the hotel was delayed for about thirty minutes while we waited in traffic watching a military parade go by, dis­playing all the latest Pakistani war machines. The national military parades its stuff not only to warn the people to stay in line, but it also builds confidence that the present govern­ment in power can take care of its people well and protect them from the threat of outside powers.

The day before I left Evergreen, I had received a fax message from Senator Raja M. Zafar-al-Haq, a senior senator in the Pakistani government and secretary general of the World Muslim Congress. He was the man I had met on the airplane from Karachi to Amsterdam on my previous trip to Pakistan. I had shared with him what God has done in my life and how I consider myself to be the happiest man in the world. He had then invited me to contact him if I ever return to Isla­mabad so that we could have dinner together. The fax I received from him was a response to my communication informing him of my return trip and my desire to meet with him.

When I returned to my hotel, I called the senator’s office, graciously thanked them for the fax mes­sage, and confirmed that I would be available at the senator’s suggested time of 2000 hours on Monday, March 18 (2000 hours means 8:00 p.m. … I hope).

Monday is the day I will be return­ing from Quetta to Islamabad on my way out of the country. I am really delighted about the opportunity and the senator’s response. And I am looking forward to once again being with this very important man of the Islamic world.

Thursday, March 14

Following breakfast at the hotel, I caught the airport bus to the Islamabad International Airport. Our route took us along the wide, six-lane thoroughfare in front of the gorgeous white parliament buildings, the president’s complex, and the prime minister’s huge layout, as well as many other beautiful government and foreign-embassy buildings.

Islamabad was built from scratch start­ing in 1961. It was decided that the city of Lahore, the most natural site for the capital, was too close in proximity to India, being just sixteen miles from the border. So the government decided to build Islamabad as the capital. It was built on the outskirts of Rawalpindi, a city that dates back some seven thousand years. By now the two cities have intertwined, with a combined population of over 1.5 million people.

The airport is a pretty typical Third World major airport. That means it is dirty, well used, and overrun with lots of milling folks. I was about two and a half hours early for my flight, and pas­sengers, I was told, were not allowed in the terminal until just prior to boarding. But I really didn’t feel like sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk with the other locals, nor did I feel like “mingling” for two and a half hours. 

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So even though I was traveling on a cheap economy excursion ticket, I walked down the roadway, where there was a separate building with a VIP lounge sign on the front and many guards with automatic weapons balanced on their hips, and I told the man at the door that it was necessary for me to sit down inside the VIP lounge for a couple of hours. Guess what? He let me in!

I arrived in Quetta shortly after 3:00 p.m. and rode to the Serena Hotel, where I checked in.

It just dawned on me … seldom have I been involved in such bizarre circumstances. On January 25, 1996, I notified Dr. Shafi Mohammed Zehri, medical superintendent of Sandeman Provincial Hospital, Quetta, Pakistan, that Project C.U.R.E. had selected the hospital to be the recipient of approxi­mately $500,000 worth of medical supplies and equipment. I informed him of the esti­mated time of arrival of the shipment into the Port of Karachi, the vessel sailing voyage number, and the name of the vessel. I included any other pertinent information and sent it to him by fax.

I received no reply immediately but did not give it much thought, since I had sent the message during Ramadan, the Muslim holy time. So I again sent the message on January 31 … No reply. I began sending the same message frequently. Each time my fax machine verified that the hospital fax machine had indeed received the transmission … and yet no reply. Eventually I had Dr. Rich Sweeney send the package via e-mail to the only e-mail-receiving computer in Quetta. Again, no response.

It was getting close to the time I was to leave on my trip to Pakistan. It was also getting close to March 10, the estimated time of arrival for the $500,000 cargo container into the Port of Karachi. I was worried. I had visited Jabil Abbas Jilani, at the Pakistan embassy in Washington, D.C., in February. I decided to call him and see if he would help me. He was very receptive and understanding and said that if I would fax him the entire package, he would see to it that it was delivered in Pakistan, and he would addition­ally call to verify its receipt. I thanked him and, based on that assurance, departed Denver for Quetta.

When I arrived in Quetta today, I had fully expected someone to meet me there from the hospital, since I was certain by that time that they would have had time to prepare for me and would have made reser­vations for me at the Serena Hotel as I had requested Dr. Buzdar to do.

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I got off the plane, walked to the terminal, slowly looked over the crowd, and spotted no one with a sign or a smile of recognition on his or her face. I proceeded outside the terminal. It was raining … an extremely unusual phenomenon for Quetta’s high-desert location. I stood under the terminal awning until almost everyone had exited. I kept an eye on the driver of the Serena Hotel bus who was holding an identification sign. He apparently was there to pick up someone who had reservations at the hotel. No one approached him, and as he turned to leave in his bus, I caught up with him and let him know I needed a ride to the Serena. I decided that if no one was there to meet me, they had probably had the bus come out to pick me up. It all seemed validated when I was the only passenger.

But when I went to the registration desk at the hotel, they looked through all of their records and assured me that I had no reservation there. Regardless, I talked them into renting a room to me. But all of the events seemed so strange.

I unpacked all my Pakistan notes and files from my previous trip and immediately set about calling Dr. Zehri, Dr. Buzdar, and the hospital. No one answered at Dr. Zehri’s home or office; all I could get from Dr. Buzdar’s office was a fax tone; and the hospital person I talked to said that Dr. Zehri was no longer head administrator at the hospital and would, furthermore, not be back until November. They said that Dr. Buzdar was out on holiday until next Wednesday.

While I was looking through my files, I realized that I had not brought along any of the paper­work pertaining to the shipment of the container. And now I was becoming convinced that no one in Quetta knew anything about absolutely anything.

I finally was able to talk to Dr. Roohullah M. Qazi’s niece at a phone number he had previously given to me. He is the deputy medical superintendent at Sandeman Provincial Hospital. But the niece said that he had no home phone, and additionally, he was out of town until Saturday morning.

It was now getting late in the evening. I was pushing my luck, because Fridays and Saturdays in Pakistan are sort of do-nothing days for Muslims. I had to make contact with someone before tomorrow. I called back to the hospital and left word that it was imperative for Dr. Zehri, Dr. Buzdar, Dr. Qazi, Dr. Mohammad Nasir, Dr. Malik Kasi, or Dr. Rafique from pediatrics to call me as soon as they could be contacted. I received no response.

Next Week: Was I Being Separated Out From the Rest of the Herd?

TAKING CARE OF MY NORTH KOREAN DETAILS IN NYC Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part 1)

Note to Readers: I had a very successful trip to Pakistan December 1995. Now I was returning to oversee another $500,000 shipment of medical supplies into Quetta and also meet up with Mr. Raja M. Zafar-al-Haq, the head Senator of Pakistan and the Secretariat General of the World Muslim Congress in Islamabad. I had no idea what I was in for.

New York City: Monday March 11, 1996:
By the time 6:00 rolled around this morning (Monday), Anna Marie and I headed once again for the Denver airport. The sweet, young thing took time off from school just to take me to the airport.

I arrived at LaGuardia Airport in New York just a little past 2:00 p.m. I had made arrange­ments to meet a delegation from the United Nations group from North Korea at the Sheraton Towers Hotel in downtown Manhattan at 3:30. I knew that I would really have to hustle and make good bus connections from LaGuardia to the meeting place if I were to make the appointment on time. The bus got stuck in mid-Manhattan traffic, so when we got close to the hotel, I asked the driver to let me out, and I hurried down the streets and entered the hotel through the side door on Fifty-Third Street. It was exactly 3:30 p.m. Han Song Ryol (Minister Counselor and former Minister of Foreign Affairs) was just coming in the front revolving doors off Seventh Avenue. We all went to the coffee shop for our meeting.

It was really necessary for me to meet with the North Koreans on this trip. When Jay and I visited Pyongyang, North Korea, in September of 1995, Project C.U.R.E. had already shipped the first cargo container of medical supplies into Nampho Port via Hong Kong.

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I had the privilege of making the first-ever formal presentation of such a gift to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in fifty years. In the ending months of 1995, Project C.U.R.E. was able to send a total of seven containers into the DPRK, with an approximate value of $1,750,000.

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The government leaders had then asked me if I could help orchestrate some groups that might be able to donate foodstuffs to the North Korean people the way we were gifting medical supplies.

I told them about Dr. Ted Yamamori and the Food for the Hungry organization located in Phoenix, Arizona. Ted, Stan Schirm, and the wonderful people at Food for the Hungry have been such a great help with our Project C.U.R.E. operation in Phoenix and with Vern and Mary Gibson, our southwest directors of Project C.U.R.E.

The North Koreans were extremely hesitant to even consider inviting Dr. Yamamori to come to Pyongyang because he is Japanese—an American citizen married to an Anglo lady, but nonetheless Japanese. And because of the long history of Japanese cruelty and their occupation of Korea, the Koreans immediately had a problem with Dr. Yamamori being a part of bring­ing aid to them.

I had to push the New York delegation to a point of making a decision as to whether I could bring Dr. Yamamori with me to Pyongyang in April 1996. I did not want the issue to become an embarrassment to Ted. Finally they answered that I was an honored part of DPRK history, and I was openly wel­come to come and go to Pyongyang anytime I desired … but now was not a good time to bring Dr. Yamamori with me. I was disappointed. Ted was disap­pointed. But Ted and I began to reprocess the plans for a new date of August 21–28, 1996.

In the meantime I wrote a letter to the DPRK stating my disappointment and reinforcing the fact that Food for the Hungry had already come up with funds in excess of twenty-five thousand dollars to help ship two of the containers of medical goods donated by Project C.U.R.E. into Nampho Port. And furthermore, I had encouraged Dr. Yamamori to go ahead and ship a container of goods to Pyongyang even before he physically was able to go and visit North Korea. The meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Manhattan was set in order to discuss my letter.

After Han Song Ryol and I had talked about our families, Pyongyang, and other topics, I began to discuss what I had written in the letter. To my surprise, Han Song Ryol started out by conveying words of appreciation from the head offices in Pyongyang. “Mr. Jackson is to always be an honored guest in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” he began. “Therefore, it is the desire of Pyongyang for you to reschedule the trip as originally suggested by you and to bring with you Dr. Ted Yamamori.”

My mind did some interesting flashbacks and calculations. God had opened the door for Project C.U.R.E. to go to North Korea in April 1993 just as decidedly as he had shut the door on my scheduled recent trip to Havana, Cuba. I was scheduled to go with my oldest son, Dr. Doug Jackson, and Dr. Rich Sweeney, to Havana in late January of this year. I even went to Washington, D.C., and met with Miguel Nunez at the Cuban Interests Section of the Swiss embassy, where we thoroughly planned out our time in Havana. I then returned to Denver, and on Tuesday phoned Miguel and told him that I had not yet received our visas from the Cuban office. He said he could process the visas in ten minutes, but he was waiting for one man in Havana who was to confirm the necessary appointments for our meetings while we were there.

I told him that if I did not receive the confirmation and the visas by Wednesday morning at 9:30, I would simply have to scrub the trip and reschedule it for later in the year. I did not want to schedule the expensive trip for the three of us to Miami and then have a possible problem of getting a charter flight on Saturday from Miami to Havana at that late of a date.

I did not receive word from Miguel on Wednesday, so I called off all the plans and informed Doug and Rich that we would not be going at that time.

Can you imagine how I felt when on Saturday I heard about the Cuban fighter jets shooting down the expatriate planes of Miami Cubans? Then President Clinton imposed new restrictions against Cuba, including halting all charter planes going in and out of Havana from Miami.

Simply stated, the three of us would have been in Havana with no way to get home. Plus, there was always the possibility at such a time of crisis that some “crazy” in Cuba would have spotted one of us as American, and we easily could have become lightning rods for their anger or their desire to become local heroes by bringing harm to an American devil. At any rate, God’s intervention stopped us from going to Cuba in January just as certainly as it appeared that God’s direct inter­vention had turned a no from the North Korean government officials into an impassioned yes for Dr. Yamamori to come with me in April.

It’s really hard to explain the feeling of being involved in a situation where God directly intervened, unless I was there to witness it unfolding firsthand.

After the meeting with the North Koreans, I immediately went to the hotel phones and got the process started to reschedule everything. I really had to rely on the dedicated people back home in Denver to just take over, because I would not even return to the US from Pakistan until about four days before I needed to turn around and leave the country again for Beijing, China, and Pyongyang, North Korea.

Having finished all my phone calls, I again caught the Carey bus from the hotel to the JFK International Airport, where I got on a Pakistan Airlines A310 Airbus ulti­mately headed for Islamabad, Pakistan.

Next Week: The Situation Turns Very Strange in Quetta.


Karachi, Pakistan: Wednesday December 6, 1995: 

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When the flight left Karachi, I was surprised that we didn’t simply head west and then cut eventually back at a northwest angle to Amsterdam. But, rather, we flew almost directly north back over Lahore to the capital city of Islamabad. We stopped briefly there and then flew directly over Kabul, Afghanistan, where all the fierce fighting had recently taken place.

On the flight I experienced another outstanding serendipity. I was seated next to a distinguished gentleman in a pin‑striped, black suit. Even the plane’s crew came out of the cockpit and greeted him. I turned to him about the time we took off, extended my hand, and introduced myself. Come to find out he is one of the fifty-two-member OIS (Organization of Islamic States) group. He is also a senator in the Pakistan parliament, and in our extended conversation, it came out that he additionally was a past ambassador to Egypt. His name is Raja M. Zafar‑al‑Haq, secretary general of the World Muslim Congress.

After we had talked about Russia, the war in Afghanistan, the Muslims in Bosnia, and other issues, he wanted to know what I was doing in Pakistan, “Don’t you know you could have easily been killed in Karachi?" I told him all about Project C.U.R.E. and my trip into Andijon and Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and my Needs Assessment Study at Sandeman Provincial Hospital in Quetta. I told him that I had greatly appreciated my work in Quetta, especially with Dr. Buzdar and Dr. Zehri. I told him that I felt there was a qualitative difference that I observed in the doctors I work with around the world. Many medical institutions within countries that have been used and abused by governments of Communist dictators have been left nearly bankrupt, morally, emotionally, volitionally, and for sure, financially. A lot of doctors who were involved in those kinds of hospitals in the recent past are physically exhausted, but far worse, they have given up hope that things will ever get better. They have lost their way and have no one they could turn to.

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I told him that was where Project C. U. R. E. could come in and make such a tremendous difference. We come alongside and help by sending desperately needed medical goods … but perhaps most important, we can bring hope.

“The doctors see that, really, there is someone out there who cares about what they are going through,” I said. “Who’s to know, when all is said and done, maybe that bringing of rekindled hope is the greatest qualitative contribution that Project C.U.R.E. can ever make. Medical supplies will immediately save lives. Rekindled hope has the power to save generations.”

I told that Pakistan leader that he could, indeed, be proud of the culture of his country and the fact that in spite of centuries of hardship, his people, particularly Dr. Buzdar and Dr. Zehri and the other doctors at the Quetta hospital and medical school, had not lost hope. And in spite of the extensive needs they were currently experiencing, they were excited about what they were doing and what the future held for them. They had not lost hope.

He really appreciated what I had to tell him, and then he asked how in the world I got involved in taking Project C.U.R.E. all over the remotest parts of the world. He pushed my button. I looked at my watch and we were still a very long way from landing in Amsterdam so, I started out by telling him about my being in business and getting caught up in the addictive American philosophy of accumulating wealth and things. And I told him how one day God brought me to my senses and showed me that however much I accumulated in my journey, it would not make me a happy man. I asked God to forgive me for being such a selfish person. I obeyed God and paid a price that required giving over sixteen million dollars away, and I started over to put deals together the rest of my life that would help bring relief to God’s children all over the world.

Mr. Raja M. Zafar‑al‑Haq, the senator, ambassador, and secretary general who was on his way to hold talks on Bosnia and the Middle East, turned completely around in his seat to face me and said, “All of my life I have heard people talk about giving their life away to do good. But I had never met anyone who actually did it. It was always talk. May God bless you and give you good health to continue what you are doing for a long time. And when you know when you are returning to the capital of Islamabad, please let me know, and I will put a group of important people of Pakistan together in my home and let you tell all of them the story you have just told me. God bless you.”

Maybe there was a reason why I went to Uzbekistan and Pakistan during the closing days of 1995.

My trip to Amsterdam was long, and I was able to transfer all my excess baggage to London’s Heathrow Airport. In Amsterdam I had to change airlines from Pakistan Airlines to British Airways. Once I got from London to New York, I had to again transfer everything to United Airlines on into Denver.

By that time I was already starting on the third day of being in the same clothes and not having gone to bed (it was now December 8). But what I had told that Pakistani secretary general is true. I am so fortunate to get to do what I am doing, and indeed, I am the happiest man in the world.

Next Week: My return trip to Islamabad, Pakistan


Quetta, Pakistan: Monday, December 4: Dr. Buzdar wanted to take me out of the city to follow a valley where all the fruit orchards were located. There were natural springs that flow out of the dry dirt mountains surrounding Quetta, and the springs plus the snowmelt in the spring fill the gravel riverbeds and water the valley of the fruit trees. Apples and peaches are grown there and marketed throughout the province. Dr. Buzdar explained how beautiful the valley is in the summer months. People bring their families out and just picnic under the orchard trees to escape the desert sun in Quetta.

Another favorite family spot was Hanna Lake. It is a natural lake surrounded by dry dirt hills and mountains. Dr. Buzdar had his driver stop at one of the recreation sites, and we got out and walked for about thirty minutes. I thanked him for bringing me to the spot, but he thanked me for giving him the legitimate excuse to get away from his work. He had no other doctor to cover for him, and he literally worked days and nights in the neurosurgery department. That afternoon he really began to relax. We talked about his traveling to San Diego, California, in April for a medical convention. I told him what San Diego is like and to be sure to try some of their authentic Mexican restaurants while he is there.

We came back to the Serena Hotel to finish making plans for dinner, but when we arrived, a messenger was waiting to inform him of an emergency situation back at the hospital. The phone system in Pakistan is terrible, and there are no such things as beepers or cellular phones. So the messenger had simply been waiting for him at the hotel. Dr. Buzdar said that if he could get away, he would meet me at 8:30 p.m., but he was not sure what was in store for him.

By 9:00 he had not come, so I went to the restaurant and had some soup and fried bread for dinner. By the time I arrived back in my room, he had called and said his surgeries would not allow him to get away, but he would meet me for lunch the next day at 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 5

At 9:00 a.m. Dr. Zehri came to my door, ready to take me for meetings at the Sandeman Provincial Hospital. During the night it had begun to rain. The sky was very dark, and we got drenched just going from the hotel to his car, which was waiting out front. He told me that the rain typically lasts for only two days but usually comes after the fifteenth of December. I told him I was glad it rained, and that I could be there for the two days that it would rain that year. 

The hotel complex at the Serena was very heavily guarded and fenced. Likewise, the hospital complex was very heavily posted. After a quick tour of the departments, we were ushered into the office of Mr. Zafar Isbal Qudir, secretary of the health department for the provincial government of Baluchistan. He introduced us to his two deputies, and I once again told the story of Project C.U.R.E. I quizzed them about the government’s attitude toward taxation of incoming humanitarian goods, and they assured me that all I needed to do was to get any supplies to Karachi, and from there on they had all the necessary friends to take care of everything else. 

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From Sandeman Hospital, Dr. Zehri had his driver take us to the Bolan Medical College. Almost all of the professors teach at the medical school and practice at Dr. Zehri’s hospital. The school is right now in the middle of building an adjacent 650-bed hospital, and except for the concrete structure, they are going to need everything. The medical school started in 1972, and I was totally amazed at what they have already accomplished. They have built a fine facility and have a very good medical library. When I asked them if they had any possible way to get a CD-ROM library started, they took me to the back room of the library, and the sharp, young librarian showed me the library’s computer. They have the only Internet address in all of Baluchistan Province, including all the military. The military comes over and uses their e-mail if there is an emergency. Their online server is the UN. Their address is infoc/obmcqtc/ I was really impressed and told them I might have some extra copies of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine reference book that I could donate to them.

By the time we finished touring the medical school, it was 1:00 and time to meet Dr. Buzdar for lunch at, of all things in Pakistan, a Chinese restaurant. It was the first time I had Chinese food prepared with an overabundance of curry … but it was very good.

Following lunch Dr. Zehri had to attend an important meeting to determine the medicine purchases for 1996. Dr. Buzdar offered to show me the marketplaces of Quetta, and I asked if we could go shopping for carpets. Everyone in Baluchistan is related to everyone else … really! And Dr. Buzdar had a friend he had operated on a short while back who had promised him the best of treatment in return if he ever needed hand-woven wool carpets. So Dr. Buzdar took me to the man’s carpet shop. I purchased three carpets, and Dr. Buzdar bought a fourth to give to me as a gift. I could never have expected to get such quality carpets at such a price. Now I have an entirely new problem—how am I to get about three hundred pounds of carpet back to Denver? Oh well, I will work on that problem tomorrow.

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Later in the evening, Dr. Zehri came by the hotel and brought me a wonderful gift to take to Anna Marie. He also brought with him a copy of his passport. We had talked at lunch about my helping him secure a visa to the USA so that he could travel with Dr. Buzdar to San Diego in the summer to attend a medical meeting. He had never had a visa to the USA and was afraid that he would probably never get one. I had said that I would be happy to invite him and sponsor him by claiming that I needed him in the USA to check and approve of the medical items we were donating to Pakistan. I felt it a compliment that he would ask me to help him.

After Dr. Zehri left the hotel, Dr. Buzdar called and said he had just completed his surgery schedule and asked if I was still up and wanted to get a cup of coffee. We met, and he was concerned about making sure I had no problem getting all the luggage on Pakistan International Airlines. Dr. Buzdar is a close personal friend of the manager of the Quetta Airport and also a close friend of Pakistan Airlines’ regional supervisor. We talked over coffee until after 11:00 p.m. in the hotel lobby, and he left me saying he would be by at 10:30 a.m. to personally see to it that everything went well.
Wednesday, December 6

The next morning the Serena Hotel was swarming with military ruffians. It was still raining, and the front parking courtyard was jammed with military vehicles loaded with soaking-wet tents and army gear. The troops seemed to be some kind of special-forces group, all of them wearing red-and-white-checkered and black-and-white-checkered head wear like Yasser Arafat. Some had camouflage pants and shirts, but most were dressed in long white tunics.

I was the only one who even slightly resembled European descent in the whole restaurant. My guess is that they were high mucky-mucks who had just returned from some raid mission with the Taliban forces up in Afghanistan. Needless to say, I was quite respectful and careful that I didn’t do anything that might irritate them—like singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Quetta is a city that is not equipped to handle rain. Raining two days in a row left the city a giant mud puddle. The open sewers had all backed up, and the streets were running with trash and debris. The cars had a rough time even getting down the streets, but the funniest sights were the little motorized rickshaws that would almost disappear out of sight when they would drop into a deep, unforeseen pothole hidden by the high water.

But the rain had let up by the time Dr. Buzdar arrived to pick me up at the hotel. In fact, the haze had lifted, and I could see snow capping the brown, barren mountains surrounding the city. Actually, it was all quite pleasant. There was a freshness to the valley, as if it had just experienced a once‑a‑year bath. Dr. Buzdar’s driver loaded my prize carpets into the car, which scarcely left room enough for the three of us to manage a ride to the airport. There, to his word, Dr. Buzdar had me prechecked in, and they whisked my things through with VIP service. We had an opportunity to sit and summarize things before I left. He gave me a copy of a letter he had already sent to his neurosurgeon friend in Minnesota in the USA telling him of me and requesting that he try to locate the funds needed for shipping the containers to Quetta.

The Pakistan International Airline flight left about noon, and I headed for Karachi. Everyone had warned me that Karachi is a city where one needs to be extremely careful. Lots of people from India had migrated there, as well as many refugees from the Afghanistan war. Karachi is a big and dirty seaport city with lots of desperate folks. Kidnappings and murder rates are very high. No American should travel there alone. I was pleasantly impressed with the airport, however. It was quite large and clean and well guarded, and lots of porters were there, eager to do anything for a few rupees.

I stayed quiet within the airport during my transfer. I was not so fortunate with my extra baggage at Karachi. Without a Dr. Buzdar there, Pakistan Airlines charged me $240 for the additional two pieces I had.

Next Week: Perhaps,  I discovered the real reason for my trip to Pakistan.

PAKISTAN JOURNAL - 1995 (Part 1)

NOTE TO READER: The intriguing story that I want to share with you about our involvement in the dangerous country of Pakistan weaves its way through two separate international assessment trips. One trip began in late 1995 with my busy itinerary of meetings in New York City, then on to Tashkent and Andijon, Uzbekistan, then finishing the trip in northern Pakistan. The other journal covers the return trip to Pakistan in March 1996. I will jump into the adventure here as I was leaving Uzbekistan and heading for Islamabad, the capitol of Pakistan.

Islamabad, Pakistan: Saturday, December 2, 1995: I was up early. Ted and I walked to a main street in Andijon and caught a taxi out to the airport, where I caught another Russian Yak-40 jet  back to Tashkent. This time, upon my arrival, Peter was there to meet me. We caught lunch from the street vendors, and I prayed a lot that I wouldn’t ingest anything bad from the street food into my system. We had some additional meetings with Guy and his wife and eventually made our way back to the airport for my trip on to Islamabad, Pakistan. On that flight I had a window seat and a great view as we flew south over Tajikistan and Afghanistan into Islamabad. 

Upon landing in Islamabad, a most incredible thing happened. I cleared passport control, customs, and security and went to the front of the airport to look for a Marriott bus to catch a ride to the hotel. About that time another man came up also inquiring about the hotel bus. He was just flying in from China to Islamabad. The director said that it would be another forty-five minutes before the bus returned. I told the guy that I was also headed for the Marriott, and I would split the expense of a taxi with him so we wouldn’t have to wait around in the dark. When we got into the taxi, I introduced myself and said I was from Colorado in the USA.

He looked at me kind of funny and asked, “What part of Colorado?”

 I told him Evergreen, and he laughed and said he was from Boulder. We couldn’t believe it. What would those odds be? Then I began to understand some working of providence. He quizzed me extensively about Project C.U.R.E. and told me he also had homes in Shanghai, China, and Hong Kong. I asked him what in the world he did. He reluctantly told me that he was Marcus W. Brauchli, China bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Asia Wall Street Journal. But then he changed the subject quickly and continued his inquiry of Project C.U.R.E.

He asked, “Has anyone ever written this up?”

I said that only some of the local folks had done some things.

“This is a great twist of goodwill in business instead of all the same hard stuff,” he replied. “Would you mind if I did a story on Project C.U.R.E.? Who knows, it just might help you get your needed supplies.”

Two guys in a cab in Islamabad on a dark December night, both from Colorado—much more than coincidence!

Marcus insisted on getting the whole taxi fare, and I made him promise that I could buy lunch sometime over the Christmas holidays when he came to visit Project C.U.R.E. and see the warehouse. I went to sleep with sugarplums dancing in my head. I’ve always wanted Project C. U. R. E. to keep a low profile and just do its work. But there might be some providentially arranged exposure coming at a very strategic time.

Sunday, December 3

Sunday morning I dressed and went down to breakfast at the hotel. The Marriott in Islamabad is really nice. My mind kept making the comparison between the Andijon bathhouse procedure and the nice warm shower at the Islamabad Marriott.

I went to the US embassy, checked in, and told them why I was there and where I could be reached for any messages or emergencies.

When I realized that my flight was due to take off at 11:00 a.m. instead of 1:30 p.m., I about panicked. I had not packed or checked out of the hotel, and it was already past 10:00. While I was paying my bill on my way out of the hotel, I asked the cashier how long it took by taxi to get to the airport.

He said, “At least thirty minutes, perhaps longer if there is heavy traffic.”

The next Marriott bus did not leave the hotel until noon. I then asked him if he would please contact the Quetta Serena Hotel and make sure I had a reservation and to have the hotel bus please pick me up at the airport. He assured me that he would take care of everything.

I ran out the hotel door and down the block, where the taxicabs were stationed. I had to haggle the price with several different drivers who wanted thirty dollars to take me to the airport. While I was still walking toward their taxis, I said I would pay fifteen. Finally I got one who said he would do it for twenty. I agreed to that only if he would get me to the departure gate in twenty minutes or less. Guess what! The thrill of the fast ride was well worth the twenty dollars, even if the ride would have just been for fun. He pulled up in front of the departure gate at seven minutes till 11:00. He earned his twenty dollars.

When I ran inside the airport, fortunately there were no longer any lines, and I sailed through the check stations and got to the gate just in time. If I had had all the grief I encountered at the Andijon or Tashkent airports, I would never have made it.

One scene I do remember very well, even though the taxi driver was flying fast, was that of the recently bombed-out Egyptian embassy located just a few blocks from the US embassy in Islamabad. Some terrorists had run a small truck totally loaded with explosives into the Egyptian embassy just a few days earlier. The only thing that was left was a crater in the ground where the embassy had stood. I don’t remember how many people were killed in the explosion. I thought, Some of these foreign places, like Pakistan, are getting almost as violent and uncontrolled as terrorist America.

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On the plane I had a whole row to myself, so I was free to slide over and get a view out the window for the flight. Quetta is west and somewhat north of Islamabad. There is nothing to be seen but bleak, barren, and dry mountain ranges and desert valleys in that part of Pakistan. Why, for centuries, people had fought for this territory was beyond me. The entire border between Afghanistan and Pakistan appears to be equally as desolate. We flew between two brown mountain ranges to where the rocky valley widened out, and behold … there was the city of Quetta. It is a city with a population of several million, including some of the nearby region, and even from the air as we landed, I could see that it consists, to a great extent, of military bases and ammunition bunkers and vehicles. That certainly confirmed all I had heard about it being a strategic military border town.

Inside the airport terminal I was met by a doctor even before my luggage had cleared through. He was very friendly and escorted me out to where a driver and car were waiting to take me to the Serena Hotel. We had a short time to get acquainted from the airport to the hotel. He came into the hotel and waited to make sure I got checked in all right. Then he left me in my room and said he would be back at 1:30 for a meeting.

Sure enough, at 1:30 p.m. Dr. Abdul Kasi came back and brought with him Dr. Shafi Mohammed Zehri, the medical superintendent of the Sandeman Provincial Hospital. They came into the room, and we talked for about an hour. When they left, they said they would return for dinner in the evening.

I thought dinnertime would be somewhere between 6:00 and 8:00. By 8:30 I figured that I must not have understood correctly, so I went down to the restaurant dining room and had a lovely dinner. I returned to my room by 9:20 and had taken some of my clothes off and begun to read a book, when a knock came on the door. It was Dr. Munir Abdul Kasi, who, by the way, is the resident medical officer general at the hospital. This time he brought with him Dr. Ad Sikander Riaz, head of the Department of Community Medicine at the Bolan Medical College. They were ready to go eat. I informed them that I had misunderstood the time and that I had already eaten. So we stayed and talked in my room. Dr. Riaz started out quite on the offensive saying that he never had heard of Project C.U.R.E. I told him that certainly didn’t surprise me, but I was happy he had the opportunity of hearing of us now.

After about one and a half hours, they were absolutely in awe of what Project C.U.R.E. is doing around the world and the possibilities of working together in the future. They told me that both of them were required to fly to Islamabad for medical meetings the next two days, and they didn’t want to miss the chance of getting acquainted. When they left they told me that there was a big meeting at the hospital planned for 10:00 a.m., and that Dr. Zehri would have someone pick me up about 9:45.

Monday, December 4

The next morning Dr. Zehri himself came with his driver to escort me to the Sandeman Provincial Hospital. The meeting was held in Dr. Zehri’s office, and there were five doctors who met with me, plus several others who slipped in and out during the meeting. Those present included Dr. Shafi Zehri, of course; Dr. Mohammed Rafique, pediatrics department; Dr. Niaz Mohammad Nasir, professor of anesthesiology at Bolan Medical College as well as Sandeman Hospital; Dr. Hamaadullah Buzdar, head of the neurosurgery department at Sandeman Hospital; and Dr. Roohullah M. Qazi, deputy medical superintendent. They also wanted to know all about Project C.U.R.E. and me, so I decided to give them both barrels. I told them my story about business, writing my book What’cha Gonna Do with What’Cha Got?, doing economic consulting, beginning to ship medical goods into Brazil, and so forth. I also told them that I promised God I wanted to do business the rest of my life that would help other people who were in need rather than becoming richer myself. I explained where we were presently shipping and how much we had shipped just this year. I told them that I considered the entire endeavor a miracle, and that I was the happiest man alive because I had been given the opportunity to be a part of helping people around the world.

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We then got into dealing with filling out the necessary pages of the Needs Assessment Study that I had brought along. All of the doctors were extremely respectful, and Dr. Nasir went into quite a lengthy time of sharing that he had studied the Christian Bible as well as the Muslim Koran, and that what I was doing was helping over eighteen million people who had no money. I let them know how glad I was to have been able to come to Quetta and get acquainted with them. I told them that I would not have been able to come to their hospital had it not been for my scheduled trip to Andijon and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I felt that it was providential that I had come. They all quickly agreed.

Dr. Zehri and Dr. Buzdar then took me to lunch at the Serena Hotel. We talked about their families and mine. Dr. Zehri has five children. The oldest two are fourteen and eleven. Dr. Buzdar has traveled some for medical conventions. He has been to Detroit; Miami; Seoul, Korea; and Thailand and has a very good friend who used to be his professor in neurosurgery and now lives in Hamburg, Germany. Dr. Zehri had to attend some meetings after lunch, but Dr. Buzdar canceled his surgeries and had his driver take me around the Quetta area.

Quetta is a huge military establishment, and we drove past many installations, base operations, and training areas. The military staff college is located there, so all military staff eventually make their way to Quetta to be trained. In the past, Quetta hospitals and clinics had to take care of many war casualties from the border war in Afghanistan.

Next Week: Healthcare in the middle of danger  


My weary eyes have seen too much war and genocide, too much evil manipulation and dying. I have taken my turn at the entrance of the Sandeman Provincial Hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, near the border of Afghanistan, where I’ve watched hundreds of injured and sick line up on
the sidewalks, with family members holding the heads of the wounded in their laps and intravenous contraptions in their hands. There was simply no more room for the injured in the hospital. 

I’ve listened to the words of the Marxist leaders in Africa, who were routing the frightened people from their villages to the newly constructed refugee camps: “You don’t have to kill all these fish. You just have to get them to the lake and then drain the lake.” 

I stood in the neighboring country of Uganda as the Rwandan radio stations screamed, “Pick up the machetes now! We will have jobs, power, wealth, and homes as soon as every Tutsi in our blessed homeland is dead!” 

I was born before the United States became involved in World War II, and I was in grade school when the war ended. As kids, my friends and I spent our time after school wheeling around the neighborhood on our bikes, looking for discarded gum wrappers and foil candy wrappers. We’d carefully peel the aluminum foil from the paper part of the wrappers  and put the foil into rolled balls of aluminum. Then we’d take them with us  to school, where contests were held to see who could collect the largest ball of “tinfoil.” What we collected would be turned over to the US military to build “peace machines” so that we could win the war. 

After the war was over, we heard about the construction of a huge building in New York City called the United Nations. We were promised that there would never be another war again. Everyone who had a dispute would simply come to the United Nations, discuss their problems, and agree on a proper solution. Instead of collecting any more tinfoil, we put our efforts toward collecting “buffalo nickels,” and our class sent them to New York City to build the magnificent building with a flag of every country in the world waving out front. It seemed as if we sent a lot of money, but we knew it would be worth it to always have peace. 

It was hoped that peace would be a gradual process of changing people’s opinions, slowly learning how to tear down old barriers, and quietly constructing new ways of thinking. It was hoped that the power of love would overcome the love of power, and peace would reign everywhere for the rest of time. People said that the old way of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:24) was really ridiculous, because the end result would be that everybody would end up blind and toothless. So peace was better.

Once we were informed that peace now resided in the big building in New York City, we began asking ourselves where war resided . . . and what made it so awful and terrible? Was it possible that the awfulness lived inside us? Was it likely that war really grew out of the desire of certain individuals to gain an advantage at the expense of others? Had we forgotten the desire to make others in our world better off?

We all watched the experiment of the UN take place in New York City. Albert Einstein reminded us, “Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.” There seemed to be a certain futility in thinking that the sheep could talk about peace with the wolves. Peace had to be more than just the “absence of war,” as Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza once said. It had to be “a virtue, a state of mind,” a spirit of kindness, justice, and righteousness on this earth.

In a speech to Congress on December 3, 1906, Teddy Roosevelt stated that “peace is normally a great good, and normally it coincides with righteousness, but it is righteousness and not peace which should bind the conscience of a nation as it should bind the conscience of an individual; and neither a nation nor an individual can surrender conscience to another’s keeping.” That’s why the slogan “peace at any price” won’t work.

I’ve discovered while observing human nature in more than 150 countries around the world that this doctrine of “peace at any price” has done more mischief than any other espousal afloat. It has promoted more wars and strife than any of the notorious and ruthless conquerors. It has undermined and nearly destroyed the dignity and equilibrium necessary to the welfare and liberties of the world’s fragile cultures. If you can’t find peace within yourself, you’ll be frustrated looking for it elsewhere. It’s always good to remember that peace won by compromise of principles will always be a short-lived solution. 

Before her death, Mother Teresa pointed out, “Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.”

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Thankfully that dysfunctional cycle can be reversed. You can find and experience peace within yourself and your family, and you can become a person who lives at peace with others. That inner peace can take root as you effectively embrace it regardless of all the dysfunctional circumstances around you. You will find the effects of that peace multiplying exponentially in your own life as you experience the joy of offering that peace to others. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Probably the most difficult thing you’ll experience as you embrace and practice your new life of inner peace is readjusting your heart and head in order to calmly and gratefully accept the gift of peace that God wants to give you. I like to think of it as an attitude of spiritual hospitality. As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do let them not be afraid” (John 14:27).

I am bone-tired of seeing and hearing the cacophony of strife and conflict throughout this otherwise resplendent world, and I’ve concluded that to be at rest with God is to experience true peace. It comes from the inside and alters all things on the outside. The world is a beautiful place, and we can do something positive about the discord. 

My prayer for your future is that you won’t lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, but that a calm spirit will trump every ounce of disquietude, even though your whole world may seem to turn upside down. Let your heart reach out to others in love, warmth, and encouragement and expect God’s peace to surround and protect you. Be assured that whatever happens to you is less significant than what happens within you!  


GEORGIA JOURNAL - 2002 (Part 4)

Tbilisi, Georgia: Saturday, April 6, 2002: Following my speech many of the students stood and applauded. Others sat and clapped almost as if they were stunned having never heard anything like that before. Many students came up quickly to me to shake my hand and tell me how they were challenged by the new concept of the “compassionate capitalist.”
Once the students emptied out the lecture hall, we made a quick dash for the office of the president (called rector) of Georgia Technological University.  He had invited us to his office to talk about our plans to work with the University.  He appreciated our willingness to help the University and pledged to help out with influence and contacts wherever needed and where possible.
Dr. Raul Kuprava, chairman of the department of biomedical technology engineering, had become a good friend in the very short time we had been in Tbilisi.  He was like a family member of the rest of the clan and had joined us at several different meals.  Irina, one of the twin sisters, was a professor of computers in Dr. Kuprava’s department.  We were all anxious to see their department and talk about a plan that seemed to be forming by the hour since we had arrived in Tbilisi.  

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Dr. Kuprava’s department at Georgia Technological University was the only place in Eastern Europe where students were trained to install, repair, and maintain pieces of medical equipment.  That service was non-existent in most developing countries.  The only pieces of medical equipment on which the students had to work were old obsolete pieces of Russian-made junk.
When Dr. Archil had verbalized at dinner two nights before that they wanted to start an official NGO organization of Project C.U.R.E. in Georgia, our minds all began to work in high gear.  I suggested that perhaps Project C.U.R.E. could send a partial container load of pieces of medical equipment directly from our warehouse to Tbilisi.  Instead of our Denver biomed volunteers spending time on checking out the equipment we could ship the equipment to Dr. Kuprava’s students to check out.  It would save the Denver people some time and would give the University students a great opportunity to become familiar with pieces of American equipment.
Once the students had checked out the pieces of equipment, Project C.U.R.E./Georgia could place the equipment in targeted medical facilities throughout Georgia.  They would then be able to maintain or repair the equipment at the different institutions in the country.
When the question came up as to how they would fund Project C.U.R.E. /Georgia, it was suggested that the pieces of medical equipment could be placed in the hospitals and clinics on a very minimal lease basis.  Payment would be determined by either a certain period of time or a certain amount per procedural use.  Each time the hospital or clinic charged a patient for a procedure on the machine a portion of that fee would flow to the organization and even some could go to the students for an ongoing maintenance agreement.  It was such a unique situation to see an organization actually training students to be biomed techs in the old Soviet Union.  We had lots to talk about.
Across the University campus there was a medical clinic that served the University students, local community, and a neighborhood of refugees.  Dr. Manana Nasidze, who was Dr. Nicholas’ wife, worked regularly at the clinic as an optometrist.  Project C.U.R.E. had been requested to do a complete needs assessment at the University clinic.  In a nutshell … they needed everything.
We had one last assignment on our list of appointments for Saturday, which was to finish another needs assessment study at the Border Guard Hospital in Tbilisi.  It was already 6:30 p.m.
While the Russian Army occupied Georgia until 1991 they maintained a separate military hospital in Tbilisi.  When they pulled out and went back to Moscow they totally stripped the hospital facility and even used their rifles to shoot out the windows thinking that it would keep the Georgians from being able to use the facility after they were gone.
However, a sharp young Georgian doctor, Dr. Guarm Amiridze, received permission to try to refurbish the facility and make it into a hospital to serve the Border Guard, their families, “high mountain tribe’s people,” and poor refugees living within Tbilisi.  He had already done a marvelous job considering that he had absolutely nothing with which to work.  As we toured the hospital he explained the Border Guard was not part of the regular Georgian military and did not have any medical benefits.  He wanted to help change that, and I promised him that Project C.U.R.E. wanted to help him see his dream come true.
That night we went to Dr. Marina and Dr. Nicholas’ house for Katchapuri and dinner.  The whole family was together again.  We talked and ate again until 11:30 p.m.  What could the possibilities be of Project C.U.R.E. in the country of Georgia?  It was raining and miserably cold as we made our way back to our flat and once again climbed the dark stairwell to the fifth floor.
Sunday, April 7
Dr. Nicholas and Dr. Marina wanted to take me to the open antique market that morning in Tbilisi.  It was so rainy and cold we decided to only stay for a very short time.  I opted to stay at the flat and write until about 1 p.m. when a radio show host came to the flat to do an interview with Jim Marlin and me.  Word had gotten out that international Rotary had teamed up with the local Rotary group of Tbilisi to bring Project C.U.R.E. to Georgia to aid the medical delivery system.  The reporter represented Main Radio of Georgia and was the same station where Georgia and all the surrounding countries heard “Voice of America” programs.  She told us after the interview that the program would be aired the next day between 12 and 1 p.m.

Monday, April 8
We were at the ministry of finance offices discussing Project C.U.R.E.’s desire to ship into Georgia without any taxes, duties, or fees assessed to the donated medical goods.  Jamze Machavariani, the woman in charge, really loved Project C.U.R.E.  Her brother was a Georgian doctor, and before her stint at the ministry of finance, she had headed up the NGO called the Children’s Foundation of Georgia.  She was happy to cooperate with us and was so very appreciative that we would come to the department first in an effort to establish a working relationship.  She assured me that there would be no problem getting our medical goods in as well as being approved for NGO status in Georgia.
Dr. Archil had brought his portable radio with him and the lady was very impressed with hearing the interview while in her office.  It was a good meeting. 

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Next on our Monday agenda was to meet with the ministry of health and get their approval and blessing.  Dr. Gudashavri was very astute and knowledgeable.  She liked very much what she heard and welcomed our efforts in Georgia.  She agreed that the ministry of health would be available to work with us in any way.
Jim and I invited the whole extended family to dinner Monday night at a lovely restaurant along the river in the old city of Tbilisi.  On our way to dinner we made one last stop at an orphanage where 100 deaf, orphaned children were housed.  It was quite an emotional encounter.  The children put on a quick performance for us.  Colorado Rotary had given money last year to put a new roof on the orphanage. 

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The trip to Tbilisi had been another whirlwind trip, but so much had been accomplished in such a short time.  We had been able, with God’s help and direction, to bring together the ministry of health, the ministry of finance, the Georgian customs department, international Rotary, Project C.U.R.E., seven or eight medical institutions, two universities, and one of Georgia’s most educated and cultured families … all for the express purpose of extending love, concern, and tangible items of health care to needy people of the old Soviet Union.
I was almost ashamed of myself for having had feelings of reluctance to go back to the old historic country of Georgia.  They were so needy and so appreciative of Project C.U.R.E.’s willingness to aid and help.  I really believed that we could make a difference in the old Republic of Georgia.