Girls Wanna Have Fun Too!!!
16 July 2007
What an amazing day! I’ve lived in this country for a few months now and although I don’t get much of a chance to meet with the people that live here, I can certainly say that we have some kind of interaction going on. On today’s drop we were able to make our way to the outer farm areas just outside the city. I can surely say with confidence that in our area, not only is the presence of American forces is seen as a positive thing, but I have proof that in some way, we are gaining favor with the people we were sent here to help.
After take off, we flew over miles of planted crops that looked like they were getting ready to be harvested. Each plot of flooded paddy held a small group of people gathering stalks of grain and setting it down in neat piles. The sun continued to beat down on each one as they steadily worked on harvesting their crops. It appears that the harvest is a family affair for many of the people that live here. As we flew over, I gave each small group of people a friendly wave as we made our way across the landscape. To my surprise, many of them waved back! I couldn’t believe it, I was flabbergasted.
I don’t recall the people on the ground waving back at me before except for the kids that start running after the helicopter wanting a soccer ball. I’m probably letting my imagination get the best of me, but could it possibly be that our mission of “making ‘us’ a little less intimidating and more of a friend” be working? My pride tells me yes, but my skepticism won’t quite believe it.
The neatest thing about Operation Soccer Chopper is when there’s one particular person on the ground that we see from the air who we feel deserves a soccer ball. There was a little boy working in the fields one day that we dropped a soccer ball to. A lot of times it’s always a boy who ends up getting a ball. In the past, we’ve tried to drop a ball near a small group of girls hoping that they will chase after the ball and have one for their own. However, I’m not familiar with all of the local customs or religious beliefs. We decided that the reason the girls don’t go chasing after the soccer balls is probably because they weren’t allowed to play sports. I am ignorant. I don’t know what girls can and can’t do here in this country. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t try to keep dropping balls when little girls are working along side their parents and siblings working just as hard to harvest the crops. On that note, today would prove to be another “first” for us. We had been dropping balls for just a few minutes when we came upon a flooded muddy field. It looked like a whole family had been working for hours. Everyone was covered in dirt and mud. They looked like they were working so hard and to me, that work had no end in sight. All of them needed a break. We were going to provide a break. Short as it was, they needed a break, compliments of OSC. We saw the flooded muddy field below as we flew over. Mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters were all in the field harvesting and working way too hard. After all, this is summer right? Kids should be playing in the water, splashing, not hunched over pulling crops from the ground. The minute we saw that family, we knew that there was a chance that a little girl would get a ball today. We slowed down and made the approach at the right speed. Our crew chief was Chris, he held the ball up over his machine gun and waited for the right time. “Ball’s away!” he announced as he keyed his intercom. The ball made one giant bounce on a small dirt walkway and promptly plopped into the murky water. After making a small splash it settled right next to a little girl and her sister. All she had to do was pick it up and tuck it under her arm.
What a day! Look at that smile! Incredible.
Thanks to all of you, we’re having such a good time dropping balls to kids that need to be playing just as much as they need to be working. I know that we can’t supply every kid with a soccer ball but wouldn’t it be nice if we could?
I know we have a few folks that have taken that challenge head on. I appreciate your support so much. What a worthwhile project! Thank you all for helping with this. You are wonderful people and we are all very lucky!