Are you Making a Difference?

January 4, 2015

Afghan Girl 290Some old stone warehouses scattered across Kandahar are in surprisingly good state of repair given they were constructed by the British in the nineteenth century. The square masonry and precise lines catch my eye as does the stonework. But the slowly gathering crowd is watching us approach and I take my eyes off the building and pay more attention to these local Afghans in rags. They are a collection of the poorest in the community. They don’t project any sense of destitution, but rather a sharp curiosity about what is going on around them. In this place everyone watches everyone else. And here at the old wooden gates to the British warehouse compound everyone watches more than most.

The gates are probably the original gates and I fancy colonial uniforms guarding the place. But the sharp eyed swarthy Afghan in his filthy robes is no glistening trooper. He takes some convincing but I am soon allowed inside along with my Afghan colleagues. I step into an area the size of a tennis court and the gate clunks shut behind me. This is a food distribution point and the NGO with whom my company is collaborating has set it up to channel food aid to those who need it. Naturally there are those who would try and get their hands on this food so they can sell it. Silk Road DNA runs deep in this place and any opportunity to make a buck is seized at the first opportunity. So my colleagues are careful to survey the community first, putting in the time and effort to identify those who will directly benefit from the largesse of western donors. Korean vegetable oil and Australian wheat in this case. Having surveyed the community, and pre approved the poorest citizens to receive this aid, there is now a careful effort to ensure it is only those folk who are granted access to the compound where the food is stored. Read more