A story from Afghanistan – turning grief into giving

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez

This story came to me from Elizabeth Katz, who works with my husband at Oglethorpe University. Her new blog on motherhood is perky and fun (http://momsarehuman.blogspot.com). This story, unfortunately, is not.

Elizabeth’s high school friend Katrina and her husband Cory are both in the armed services and met John and Lisa Hallett when they were all stationed in Hawaii. Cory and John were deployed in Iraq together in 2004-5, then John was deployed again to Afghanistan where he commanded an infantry company in the south. Returning from a mission with his medical team to check on a cholera outbreak in early 2009, he and three other soldiers were killed by a massive roadside bomb. John had just turned 30. He left behind his beautiful wife Lisa, and three darling children. The oldest is four, the youngest is less than a year old and was born after John was deployed. He never lived to see his baby daughter.

In her grief, Lisa turned to what she was always known for: giving. In honor of John, she and friends established a foundation called Soles for Souls. Here is what she writes about it:

“John’s commitment was to help the communities of Afghanistan.  Before John deployed, he was fully immersed in learning the Afghani culture, people, and way of life.  John went to help, not to hurt.  Starting this charity is a natural fit in it continues John’s mission… to help rebuild the broken communities in our world.  I am grateful that Major Ocasio and his amazing wife Kym invited me to join them on this mission.  In my very broken world, I have a way to honor John.  People grieve different ways, some are intuitive and some grieve by doing.  We can be bitter or we can be better.  John’s loss is devastating and I will always have a huge hole in my heart, in my life.  But, by doing this, by helping the people from the soil on which John was killed, I strive to be better and not bitter, to continue John’s mission, and to live a life which would make him proud.”

My $100 will go for postage to mail donated children’s shoes to Afghanistan. If you’d like to donate shoes (or money) the address is on the website http://www.johnhallett.com/soles-for-souls.html. (Afghani kids prefer black dress shoes to emulate their elders, and green shoes are apparently not acceptable.) If you want to completely choke up, watch the video of the young Afghani kids getting their first pair of shoes from American soldiers, in memory of John Hallett at http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=video/video_show.php&id=71742. Then say a prayer for barefoot children around the world, and for this beautiful young family.

One thought on “A story from Afghanistan – turning grief into giving

  1. I admire people who choose to be Better not Bitter. What a great reminder for me today.
    God bless the families of those who fight for my freedom.

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