It was a woman I'd never met who finally swung it. As I lay on a plump mattress under a duck down duvet one night in late April, I thought about what she, Liz, had done with her day. While I'd been sitting on my backside, shuffling words around and working my way through a variety of nut-based snacks, she'd been putting out fires, breaking up knife fights and comforting dozens of bewildered children who know her as a second mum.
Without outside help, things would be different. The fight for women's rights would falter; humanitarian assistance would be limited; access to education, healthcare, livelihoods support and employment would drop. Rural youth, who we have helped into work, would potentially be free to join opposition groups. The road to democracy and security would be compromised.
In Afghanistan, dying is easy, staying is hard but not impossible. We should support those Afghans who have chosen this difficult path. Instead of throwing up their hands in fury at Afghan refugees arriving in Europe, international donors should be helping Afghans build a more secure and stable Afghanistan. Instead of cutting aid, it must be improved and increased.
Mr Obama's rhetoric over US torture is one of condemning the actions and adjuring us to "leave" them "where they belong - in the past". As if that answers to the seriousness of what took place. Few people would be content with a political arrangement which went no further than the condemning-and-leaving tactic if we were considering the everyday crimes of theft, fraud, assault or rape. I don't see why an official US programme of organised kidnap, illegal imprisonment and serial assault should be any different.
In October 2009, I set out on a rugby tour to France with thirty teenage boys. I had uncovered the sad story at our London club, Rosslyn Park, of a lost Great War memorial; a 1919 press clipping stated 72 had died, but no names. Some 109 names of men who lived, loved, played, fought and fell have now emerged from club records and lost memory.
For decades, Mercy Corps has worked with refugee and displaced populations, we know that building walls does not work. Europe's Schengen Agreement must remain in place and we must avoid the simplistic pretence that fences can be placed at our borders to preserve our economic well-being and security.
I've come to realise that Afghanistan has forever changed me. It has ruined me, destroyed part of me. It has left an intangible impression upon me. At the same time, it has made me, matured me, grown me, expanded my potential as a human being, taught me the importance of life, love and the little things.
The hard-won battle to eradicate polio once and for all is within our grasp but we can't relax yet. We must, maintain and accelerate our efforts. So it is heartening to see Commonwealth countries, including the UK, coming together this weekend at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta to review the results achieved to date and call for renewed global support.