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Mental Monday: Animal-Assisted Therapy in War Zones


Golden Retrievers are often used for therapeutic purposes

I recently learned that a psychology team in Afghanistan brought a few therapy service dogs with them to help the troops.  There is reason to believe that these dogs will be very helpful for the troops as they help keep spirits high and ease the mental and physical stresses associated with combat.

Since World War II, animals have been commonly used in both mental and physical therapeutic settings as a way to help the healing process. From cats and dogs to horses, animals have been proven to be a wonderful way to help people recover from both mental and physical ailments. Anyone who has a companion animal or a service dog already knows that there is nothing like holding, hugging, and petting a warm, soft, and cuddly animal to help ease the mind and soothe the soul.

Animals can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress and anxiety levels. They can also help combat depression and social isolation, two issues that are often comorbid with other mental or psychical health problems. Specially trained service animals have helped people in private therapeutic settings, schools, hospitals, convalescent homes, and even prisons. (continues…)

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The Children Of Afghanistan

What do you see in these photos?

It’s hard to look at these pictures without projecting our own thoughts about the war in Afghanistan and what affect it has had on their youth. What kind of life do these children lead? Are they happy? Do they share the innocence, playfulness, and carefree nature that most of our children possess? I want them to. I hope they do. But it’s hard to be optimistic and idealistic when confronted with the young faces of reality.

The images you see here are photos my sister has taken during her first year in Afghanistan. She has given me permission to use them for the purpose of this blog post. I found these pictures to be so beautiful that I was moved to share them.

(click on pics to expand)

Did these photos move you as well? Please share your thoughts.

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Foodie Friday: (Really) Authentic Afghanistan Cuisine

If you’re a regular reader of mine, then you probably know that my sister is a civilian lawyer working in Afghanistan. I cherish all the stories and pictures she shares with me about the Afghan culture and way of life. Since my sister moved there nearly one year ago, she has undoubtedly lived a challenging life, a life that is vastly different from what most of us will ever know. But there are perks, too. And one of them is, without question, the local Afghan cuisine.

Just today, my sister sent me a batch of pictures about a recent excursion involving a sheep slaughtering. She spared me the photos of that aspect, but she did send me photos of locals preparing what is probably the most popular dish in Afghanistan – kebabs and kofta kebabs (ground meat). Needless to say, the kebabs were prepared from the freshly slaughtered lamb.

Once the kebabs have been grilled and prepared to perfection, they are then wrapped in Naan bread. Naan bread is popular in Afghan cuisine, but also Indian, Persian, and Pakistani cuisine.  Haven’t tried Naan bread? It’s not nearly as good as fresh homemade Naan, but stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods carry it. Another Afghan staple is rice and most dishes are prepared with a side of it. The many different variations of Afghan-prepared rice is considered the most important part of any meal and the wealthier you are, the more rice you eat. (continues…)

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The Wine Burqa

The Wine Burqa

The Wine Burqa

Just what I always needed for my wine bottles. A Wine Burqa!

No, I didn’t pick up this ironic and quirky item at Cost Plus World Market. My sister works in Afghanistan and she sent me this gift.

I’ve never seen something quite so funny and sad at the same time.

Although I didn’t actually need a Wine Burqa, I’m glad my sister sent this to me.  By doing so, she brought a wonderful organization to my attention. The label says “Hand Made/Embroidered by Afghan Women” and the proceeds go to the Women of Hope Project.  The items created and sold by Afghan women help them support their families and educate their children.

Please check out their website and blog.

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