As leaves start to turn a pale shade of yellow, children across our nation return to school, and thoughts turn towards crisp autumn days, we find ourselves preparing for another trip to Afghanistan at a time where they are experiencing a different change of season. The election season has come and gone, but votes are still be counted, accusations of corruption fly from all sides, and a nation struggles to retain the hope that the season ahead is brighter than that left behind.
Today Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah are in a dead heat, pardon the phrase. A run-off appears likely. I spoke today on WDAY radio in North Dakota and the host, Christopher Gabriel asked me the question, “What will the election result mean for Mountain to Mountain?” In the best case, very little will change and small changes will continue to move things forward in terms of education, development, and opportunity. In the worst, the public loses hope and confidence in its government and those that would exploit that apathy step in to fill the gap with violence and oppression.
Mountain to Mountain believes that regardless of the electoral outcome – our way ahead is firmly set in place. As we revisit Afghanistan this autumn it is only fitting that we implement our first independent projects at the same change of season that first brought us to this country. This trip sees us setting up a computer lab at a girls secondary school. We plan to interview the teachers and students and revisit them yearly to watch their progress and track the relevance of computer training for their education and career paths.
This trip is also focused on taking the next step with several larger projects we are fundraising for. The first is with the deaf school in Kabul. Securing land, discussing the teacher training program, and school requirements. The second is to visit several communities in the mountains to discuss potential sites for schools in the region. We look forward to meeting with community elders and discovering how we can best work together to bring education to the children in these villages.
At the same time – our own organization is changing as we say goodbye to the first half of the year’s efforts to get balls rolling, set structure, and discover how to work together effectively as a Board. As autumn comes, we find ourselves starting to see some of the fruits of our labor ready to harvest. Our 2nd Annual Race for the Mountain trail running event raised over $3,000 towards a computer lab. Team M2M launched in July and its handful of initial members have raised over $3,000 in just two short months. The Dreams of Kabul photography exhibit launches its opening night fundraising in September as its first stop on a traveling tour of galleries. Communities across the nation are developing their own fundraising initiatives and events to help us build schools, educate girls, and empower young women to find their way in the world.
As we move forward into the next season we hope that we can continue to build upon the events we’ve set in motion in the season’s past to create opportunity in the seasons yet to come!
photo by Di Zinno