Monday, November 08, 2010

Afghanistan Update: Rameen

Rameen, our friend from Afghan Communicator who was born in Kabul and raised in the US and now returned to help rebuild the country – one of the few returnees -- says that this is not the Kabul of his youth. It’s full of “hillbillies,” he says. When refugees returned from wherever they went, they all came to Kabul. Add to that the general trend toward urbanization that comes after war, drought and famine, and you have a city full of country bumpkins. They know nothing, Rameen complains, about how to operate in an organized, civil society. They are relentlessly tribal and dismiss anything outside their sphere of understanding – such as, entrepreneurship, modern trade practices, money managing, rewards for merit rather than familial ties, etc.

Rameen has set up a beautiful gallery of arts, from exquisite calligraphy (a famous art of Afghanistan) to crafts, clothing and furniture. He already has money, so he is seeking out the best artists, buying their goods, getting them further training at his expense, and selling their artwork with negligible markup. This kind of support for the arts is rare though, and Rameen returned determined to bring back the arts and to encourage self-respect among fine artists and train them in entrepreneurship. He speaks strongly against turning Afghanistan into a “beggar nation.” All this money flowing into the country is hampering the people’s ability to solve problems and survive on their own. All this building of hospitals and schools but no trained doctors and teachers to fill them.

Okay this was Rameen’s rant but it fits right in with this lack of global coordination of aid.

From Joanna in Kabul.

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