The International Assistance Mission (IAM) began in 1966 in Afghanistan and except for a brief 3 month period in 2001, they have been there ever since. Their work primarily focuses on eye care, although they provide other services as well. Their current executive director is Dick Frans who is based in Kabul. I think one could call them unique since Afghanistan is the only place they work. Frans expresses their approach this way. ” Our faith motivates and inspires us but we do not proselytize.”
Most of those who serve do so at their own expense or through the generosity of others. On August 5, a 10 member team plus an Afghan driver was returning to Kabul after an arduous 2 weeks working in the remote Parun valley. Initial reports said they were surrounded by armed Taliban and brutally murdered by gunfire and hand grenades. As further information emerges, it appears that the act could have been perpetrated by armed bandits. It’s possible the truth will never surface or if so, not for some time. I would also doubt whether those responsible will ever be brought to justice.
I have read several articles about this tragedy and the more I read the more devastated I become. Those ten who were killed were quite a disparate group. There were six Americans, a German, a Brit and two Afghans who served as a guard and a cook. Their ages ranged from two grandfathers in their 60′s to a 25-year-old photographer/videographer and the 24-year-old cook. One, Karen Woo, was a London surgeon who gave up a lucrative career to serve. The senior member was Dan Terry who arrived in country in 1971 and met and married his wife and reared three daughters in the country. Tom Little was much like Cherry and had been in the country for four decades spearheading the mission’s work in providing eye care. The group’s junior was member Brian Carderelli from Harrisonburg, Va. Both of his parents had worked there and he knew somewhat the potential dangers he faced. When the opportunity came he grabbed it. Ironically he was putting together an album of photos entitled “The Beauty-It’s Not All War.”
Other team members were dentist Thomas Grams of Durango, Co, nurse Glenn Lapp of Lancaster, Pa and an interpreter from Germany Daniela Beyer. The Afghans killed were Mahram Ali, a guard and a young cook named Ahmed Jawed.
Certainly all had calculated the risks involved and chose to take those risks. Beyond the incalculable losses felt by the families and friends are the heavy toll on IAM’s work. At the least, much of it is in limbo. The attack was one of the worst carried out on foreign aid workers in many years.
Heartfelt prayers go out to those impacted by these losses, especially those closest to these who gave their all.
- Charity plans to stay in Afghanistan despite murders of 10 aid workers (foxnews.com)
- Karen Woo Remembered At Memorial Service (news.sky.com)
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