Yukoners react to tumult in Afghanistan

·2 min read
Yukoner Kevin Rumsey worked in Afghanistan as an aid worker and at NATO. He says he feels shocked and angry about the Taliban takeover. (submitted by Kevin Rumsey - image credit)
Yukoner Kevin Rumsey worked in Afghanistan as an aid worker and at NATO. He says he feels shocked and angry about the Taliban takeover. (submitted by Kevin Rumsey - image credit)

To Joe Mewett, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, the harrowing scenes of the Taliban's takeover conjures mixed emotions.

"We did a great job while we were there," he told CBC News. "We did what we were supposed to do. We enabled kids to go to school, we enabled girls to go to school, we enabled people to see a different way of life."

The Taliban have been steadily sweeping across Afghanistan. The prospect of life under Sharia law once more has forced thousands into escape mode. Recent news footage shows a crush of people on the tarmac at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, desperate to leave aboard transport planes. Some reportedly fell to their deaths.

Mewett calls the footage "unnerving."

Mewett was posted in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2006. He worked at a tactical operation centre, where he helped plan missions.

"I got to see both sides of the wire," he said, adding he often travelled to the communities.

"Some of the kids there were six or seven when we got there," Mewitt continued. "Now they're 20.

"Hopefully people will carry on, get out of that place and do some good and maybe eventually effect change back in that area."

Terry Grabowski, the second vice president of the Whitehorse Legion and a veteran himself, told CBC upward of 40 Yukoners served in Afghanistan.

"A lot of the veterans are struggling," he said. "They want to know their service meant something, that they made a difference. My message to them is their service was not in vain."

Former aid worker calls Taliban takeover 'gut-wrenching'

Kevin Rumsey first arrived in Afghanistan in 2009. Over roughly a two-year period he worked as an aid worker then with NATO as an environmental protection officer.

"It kind of gets in your blood," he said. "That ability to help, you know, humanity. That's kind of a draw."

Rumsey said he noticed big gains in the country while working there.

"Just the freedom among the population," he said.

"What's so disturbing and so gut-wrenching is knowing what the Taliban do and what life was like under that regime, that it's coming back."

Rumsey said he's been corresponding with friends and colleagues in Afghanistan lately.

"Everybody wants to get out and that window is closing really, really quick," he said. "It's a roller coaster ride. I'm shocked. I'm angry."

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