Christian Troy, Jon Rose & CPT Brabner
Afghan Boy in Nari
So in the case of Afghanistan, CPT Brabner had relatively simple questions – would our program work there? And if so, would we be willing to partner up them to implement it? Right away I was deeply struck by the possibility of being able to help these people that were in such great need to the seemingly inaccessible.
It’s no secret that Afghanistan is considered to be a hostile place at the moment, especially for Americans. But the majority of the local population have the same basic needs as anywhere else – and the fact that it is still a kinetic war zone, brings the likelihood of humanitarian assistance down to a dramatic degree.
Filter distribution. Photo: Logan MB / Eyeconic Images
This brings me to my point – who is there, all the time? The US military. They are stationed throughout the entire country with great infrastructure in place. Whether or not you agree with the reasoning for being there in the first place doesn’t matter at this point – we are there. So it is even more important to make the absolute best of being there, which CPT Brabner and his crew are doing. Their first objective is to keep the insurgents at bay, so that the majority of the population can go about their lives without living in fear of being bullied and harassed by “mafia-like” Taliban forces. And in addition, through projects like ours, this military unit has actively sought out new innovative ways to help these villagers beyond their basic orders. This is a pivotal time for US Operations in Afghanistan – I feel that this project could be instrumental in changing the conversation from the negative reports we so often hear in the media, to some of the positive impacts that are taking place – like this W4W mission! We are embarking on a path that could help to reinvent some aspects of the existing military model, and the perceptions that follow it. The military is not just a symbol of a nations strength – it is also a network. One that reaches far and wide, with great structure and organization throughout. If we can tap into this network and create program where every single military unit has water filters that they can distribute during their deployments – we are talking serious global impact!
Afghans recieving filters. Photo: Logan MB / Eyeconic Images
If our mission is to get clean water to every single person who needs it, then we need all hands on deck. This is one great example out of many that need to happen if we are going to achieve our goal. When CPT Brabner reached out, I could tell that he was genuine in his attempts to help the Afghan people. The military doesn’t get much credit for its humanitarian efforts – and while it might not be their primary focus during deployment, they do embark on a number of humanitarian initiatives… I saw it first hand just after the earthquake in Haiti when we worked side by side with the 82nd Airborne. Then, again, months later during our project with the UN Military – also in Haiti… and now in Afghanistan with The Wolfhounds.
US Army CPT Brabner & Jon Rose preppimg filters. Photo: Logan MB / Eyeconic Images
Being raised by hippie parents and choosing a career path as a pro-surfer, I had literally zero experience with the military before starting my work in Haiti. The closest I ever came to the military was trying to sneak my way on to Camp Pendleton in San Diego because it is known to have good waves on base. But now having logged some serious time with our armed forces in two countries, I can speak with confidence when saying how incredibly grateful I am of their service. It is moments like these that truly showcase the greatness in humanity.
With the first phase of this mission already completed, Waves For Water and The Wolfhounds have effectively provided 20,000 Afghan’s with access to clean water. The project is now gaining momentum throughout the military chain of command and the private sector alike – phase two has already been funded (thank you Bill Nelson & HBO) and is set to launch in January with 500 more filters that will provide an additional 50,000 Afghan’s with clean water.
Please spread the word and help to bring a positive light to an otherwise dark subject, like war.
I’ve attached a sampler of personal images from the trip… We have a lot more (as well as some video content) that we will be sharing soon. Stay tuned…
~ Jon Rose