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To Afghanistan with love

Ashwood woman will be first American to airlift livestock feed to war-torn country
General Editor
   Jan. 30, 2002 -- After seeing pictures of starving people in Afghanistan, Ashwood resident Ann Snyder reasoned that their animals must be in dire-straights too, so she got busy organizing what will be the first airlift of livestock feed to that country.
   Snyder came up with the idea in October. "I remembered several years ago when there was a major drought in the Midwest and Central Oregon producers did a hay lift for them, and I thought, why can't I take that one step further?" Snyder said.
   As a raiser of wool sheep, meat goats, and guard donkeys herself, Snyder could identify, in a way, with the livestock needs of Afghan farmers.
   "They are an agrarian society that uses sheep and goats for food and clothing, and camels, horses and donkeys for pack animals and transportation. Without animals they're pretty much stuck. After three years of drought and 20 years of war their livestock must be devastated," Snyder said.
   She called the Heifer Project and other animal-oriented organizations, but found it hard to work through their out-of-state offices. Finally, Gary Waltenbaugh of the Portland-based Mercy Corps showed an interest, and called back Dec. 14 with an offer.
   Evergreen Aviation of Eugene had just donated the use of a 747 transport jet for Mercy Corps to fly humanitarian aid into Afghanistan, Waltenbaugh said.
   "We want the plane full and out of here Jan. 14. Can you put some feed on it?" he asked.
   Snyder said she could, then scrambled to find a donor. Calling Lottie Holcomb at Madras Feed Company, she obtained the names of feed suppliers and after several calls, Kropf Feed of Harrisburg agreed to donate four tons of pelleted grain screenings or pelleted forage hay. Afghan livestock is not used to high protein feed like grain, Snyder, said explaining why certain types of feeds were selected.
   With no one else to call on, Snyder and her husband Bing Bingham drove their own flatbed goose-necked trailer from Ashwood to Harrisburg, picked up the feed and hauled it to the Portland airport.
   The flight hit a snag, however, when U.S. authorities said more time was needed to fix bomb craters in the Kabul Airport runway and recheck the area for land mines.
   "The next scheduled flight date is Feb. 4, and it's getting very frustrating for everyone," Snyder said, noting the flight is carrying mostly food and medical supplies for the Afghan people.
   "Helping people is the immediate need. But I'm looking at what people will do, once this whole mess is over with, to start their businesses up again," Snyder related.
   Hoping the feed shipments will be an on-going effort, Snyder is seeking donations of hay to pelletize (easier to bag and ship), or money to buy feed.
   Any money contributions should be earmarked "for livestock care" and sent to Mercy Corps International, 3015 SW First Ave., Portland, OR 97201. Mercy Corps can be reached for more information at 503-796-6800. The "livestock care" notation will allow the funds to be used for veterinarian care as well as feed.
   Any farmers willing to donate hay or the use of a truck to haul feed from Madras to the Portland Airport may contact Snyder at 489-3239. She hopes to find someone with a pellet mill in our area, to save having to go to Harrisburg.
   It would be more economical to buy feed over there, but none will be available until the next harvest season since Pakistan and other nearby countries have also experienced drought problems, she noted.
   Looking at long-term plans however, Mercy Corps has suggested Snyder raise funds here and buy livestock feed in the Middle East. This would have the double benefit of helping those struggling economies, while saving shipping costs on our end.
   "It's been much more labor intensive than I thought it would be, but I'm in it for the long haul," Snyder stated with conviction.