A Dangerous Place to Picnic: An aid worker in Afghanistan

Long-listed for the 2014 MsLexia International Memoir Competition
"among the 80 most compelling and accomplished memoirs submitted."

Cover image: A water colour painted by  Ahmad Zia Langari (Zia) in 1992.
Zia said, "The picture shows how civilians were escaping the civil war in the center of Kabul, seeking safer place or leaving Kabul. The color used in the picture shows the dawn that people leave their home in a horrible situation."

It's the summer of 1992 and given the opportunity to visit a region of the world I loved to do work that I loved, how could I refuse? But I failed to update myself on the security situation and found myself travelling in Kabul, Afghanistan, just as others were leaving.
   These are personal memories taken from my diaries and letters of that dangerous time. There are scary escapes, ups and downs, successes and failures, while the voices of home and family speak to me from England to the East.

Eileen Masters

By Anne H on 20-Dec-2013
 Eileen Masters gives  a fascinating and frank account of her time working for Oxfam in Afghanistan. Her strength of character over coming an unhappy childhood stands her in good stead during the conflicts of war. An Inspirational story that is told in a humorous and honest manner. Well worth reading.

By Simon T-M on 5-Jan-2014
This is an excellent book. Eileen provides the reader with an understanding of what was happening on the ground in Afghanistan. The switching between time periods in her life adds to the reflections of her life in the book.

Jon M on 18 August 2015
Having seen so many accounts by journalists covering the wars in Afghanistan over the last four decades, we all think we are well informed on the subject. What we are missing however, are the stories of the human beings born into and living through the conflict.
This is an important book because in it we learn about the very real people determined, not just to survive, but to thrive amongst destruction, terror and tragic personal loss. I hope it serves to open minds and hearts to the suffering of others and to inspire us to make the most of that happy coincidence which caused us to be born into the safety and opportunities of the western world.

A Dangerous Place to Picnic

"Eileen witnessed some of the worst days of Afghanistan's deadly factional conflict and not only survived but assisted thousands of Afghans whose lives had been turned upside down."
Michael Semple

"Eileen's book
is, as we have in our Persian language, called Safar Nama, means 'Journey Letters' wherein the writer records the events of an age for future generations."

Commissioner Ahmad Zia Langari

"The pages really reminded me of all those days during the severely dangerous
security situation in Afghanistan."
Nafisa Nezam

By Christine G on 29-Nov-2013
I have just finished Eileen Master's memoirs of working in Afghanistan for Oxfam.....Absolutely Brilliant - I loved the way it was written: like just another day in the office dear - oh, apart from the rockets, bombs and mayhem, absolutely no histrionics or purple prose - which made it so much more effective. I liked the matter of factness about being on the front-line, Eileen's relationship with her colleagues. Isn't it amazing what people do with their lives? I do hope this becomes a 'must read' - first hand depictions of working in conflict zones are really important to even begin to understand the difficulties that arise , whether it's Afghanistan or Northern Ireland or anywhere that appears to be different from a person's own culture.

By Amazon Customer on 19 August 2015
A very interesting read - Eileen's account of the time she spent in Afghanistan provides a completely unique and different perspective on the country, the people, and what life was like there for charity workers. Highly recommended.