In Afghanistan, eBay and Skype Keep Connections Alive
By: eBay Inc. Staff
In the ‘Internet tent,’ soldiers shop remotely with their spouses, thanks to Internet access and eBay.
Sometimes you find eBay enthusiasts where you least expect them. As a case in point, eBay Inc. Senior Director Patrick Firouzian recently found many enthusiasts among U.S. Air Force personnel and the local community on a NATO army base in the heart of war-torn Afghanistan.
“In the NATO airbases' canteen, I sat among 200 or so solidiers of the coalition forces,” said Firouzian (shown at left wearing the eBay jacket), who was there on a trip facilitated through a friend in the military. “One of them told me, 'I am an eBay PowerSeller.' Another said, 'I have a Blue Star [which indicates 50 to 99 feedback ratings on eBay].'
“After dinner, I entered the ‘Internet tent’ and saw dozens of desks with computers equipped with webcams and headsets. The soldiers were Skyping their loved ones -- wives, husbands and children. Down the aisle I noticed an eBay logo. After a quick intro, a soldier told me he was bidding on a cradle for his second baby-to-come. He and his wife were buying all their baby gear on eBay, choosing together. [She] was in a Skype window, and the item page in another.”
Many of the local children that Firouzian encountered were familiar with eBay and Skype from observing Air Force soldiers using the site and the service. Firouzian learned that Afghan parents pin all of their hopes on their children. "They can make this country into a peaceful place to live,” one father told him. “But few of the teenagers succeed, although they show great potential. If they study, there are few jobs.”
To aid educating children in Afghanistan, Firouzian worked with a pilot to help help deliver four tons of school books to a remote area that had never received government support.
Firouzian noted that eBay and Skype definitely make a difference in the lives of soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. “Even in a war zone, service people are connecting to their families with video cameras, and some are connecting to a marketplace and a community via eBay.”