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Print Plant

The MoD Print Plant, without mines

Workers

Civilian and military Print Plant workers*

Your slightly-cryptic but cool Afghan phrase of the day:  The hand is a flower.

In America, wild flowers exist…fields of bluebonnets, columbine, and bear grass bloom without human help.  And fields of dandelions bloom despite human help!

In Afghanistan, not so much.  There’s PLENTY of dirt here, but without nurturing Afghan hands, few – if any – seeds or bulbs would ever flower.  Thus, “[due to] the hand, a flower exists,” usually translated as…

The hand is a flower

I learned this phrase while visiting the Ministry of Defense (MoD) Print Plant.  The Print Plant is a real gem.  There, soldiers and Army civilians work together to print everything an Army needs…stuff like certificates, forms, posters, maps, training materials, and manuals.

The Print Plant is located in an ornate building, originally built in the 1930s.  When the ANA first moved in though, just over 5 years ago, the facility grounds were still littered with Soviet air-dropped landmines…I guess clearing the roof was more than a little sporty.  But Afghan hands cleared the building and then, with Coalition hands helping out, trained and equipped the men and women of the Print Plant.  Today, the MoD operates and maintains the Print Plant machinery with only a little help from a supporting contractor.  And they do all the graphic design work themselves.

Unfortunately, this level of autonomy is still rare within the Afghan National Security Forces.  But the MoD Print Plant is existence proof that transition of responsibility to Afghan hands can work REALLY well.

Bottom line:  The best things don’t just spontaneously happen.  But Afghan and Coalition hands can make flowers grow in even the most unlikely places.

* Photo by LtCol Dean Vrable, USMC

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