Saturday, December 23, 2006
It was the Day before the Day Before Christmas and all through the Combat Zone
Well there is only two shopping left until Christmas and I know that everyone at home is stressed out about all the shopping they have to do and blah blah blah. But try to relax. It will all be over soon. Over here...Christmas is in the air and we have been getting packages from our family and donations from organizations that are dedicated to supporting the troops (even if they don't support the war.) We have so much stuff right now that we are running out of space. But the excess stuff will not be wasted. We are packing it up and bringing it around to the civilian workers who are here from countries such as India, Guyana, and the Philippines. I met one of these workers from the Philippines at the PX the other day and we met for coffee one evening and talked about his situation. He is about 27 and has a wife and 3 children at home. He has been away from his family for over a year and is not likely to see them for at least another year. He told me that he works for a sub-contractor that provides workers to AAFES (that's the organization that runs the px). According to him, the contractor gets about $3000 per month for each worker it provides AAFES. Out of that $3000...the average worker is given a measly $600 per month! With no benefits. They live in large open-bay tents with heaters and air conditioners that work only half the time. To add insult to this, the workers have to pay the placement agency thousands of dollars just for the privilege of working. The average worker has to pay $500 dollars a month for the first 6 months. Which means he or she is working for about $100 monthly until they are able to pay off what they owe the agent. Pretty outrageous huh? It disturbs me that there is so much disparity between what government pays the contractors and what is actually passed on to the workers. I think that this type of exploitation is horrible and is one of the most offensive things I have seen since I have been here. Don't ask me why I am so offended by this but I guess it's just the bleeding heart liberal in me. Before I go...I am going to do something about this. Mark my words. Some of my fellow soldiers and I are going to visit some of these contractor villages on Christmas to make sure they know that we appreciate what they are doing for us. If I can give them a little cheer...well then it will be a very happy and meaningful Christmas. I hope Christmas is as meaningful for all of you. Merry Christmas!