Once upon a time I dreamed of adventure and travelling to distant lands.  Who knows, maybe I will one day.  In the meantime, I read about such stories.  Little Women of Baghlan: The Story of a Nursing School for Girls in Afghanistan, the Peace Corps, and Life Before the Taliban is  a true account  about  a young American woman, Joanne Carter, a registered nurse, who in 1968 joins the Peace Corps and travels to Afghanistan, where she works for two years in rural Afghanistan at a hospital and teaches nursing to a group of young women, some only teenagers. Jo is ably assisted by Nan and Mary, a lab technician and another RN. Together they face trials and tribulations, in a country where health services are backward and women are second class citizens, most barely able to read and write.  Despite their hardships,  they are accepted into village life and are treated like family by many of the local folk in the area they live.

There is not much about nursing for the first half of the book,  it is more about joining the Peace Cops, travelling to a distant country and adjusting to a completely different way of life.  The second half of the book is then about the hospital, teaching “Jo’s Girls” and of general life in Baghlan.  It’s an interesting and enjoyable read, part travelogue, part work/life experience and part history.

Every now and then I read a book that gives me pause for reflection. This is one of them.  It makes me grateful for many things.  That I received a decent education, and I can read write.   That I was able to enter the vocation I chose.  That as a woman, I was free to marry for love, and not married off to a man twice (or even thrice) my age.  Simple things that many of us take for granted sometimes.

Little women of bhag