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Volunteers visit Kabul to explore ways Americans can help rebuild

KABUL, Afghanistan (BP)–A year after Afghanistan was liberated from Taliban rule, a team of American volunteers is on the ground in Kabul, searching out ways to help Afghans rebuild their war-ravaged country.

“We’re here in Kabul on the one-year anniversary of the liberation of the city,” said Mark Morris, chairman of International Friendship Summits, a nonprofit organization based in Memphis, Tenn. “We have been able to meet with people in the ministries of health and education. They are saying to us, ‘Please give us real help, actual opportunities to work together to do good for this nation.'”

Students lined the sidewalks at a girls’ school when the nine-member American delegation visited Nov. 18. The girls threw rose petals and applauded as the visitors arrived — returning the warm greeting Memphis students had given Afghan dignitaries who visited their city the previous month.

The American team is following up agreements reached during an Oct. 9-14 “friendship summit” in Memphis. Seven officials of Afghanistan’s interim government met with community, church and civic leaders to explore needs that citizens of Memphis might be able to meet.

People in several churches in Memphis were deeply moved by the plight of people in Afghanistan and the need of the international community to help begin rebuilding, Morris said. The Memphis-Afghan Friendship Summit was the result.

The meetings resulted in a list of specific ways groups will help the people of Afghanistan start rebuilding their lives: training midwives to safely deliver babies, providing basic equipment and supplies for medical clinics, developing curriculum for classrooms, helping replace forests destroyed by war and drought, exchanging students and faculty with Afghan universities, and training teachers and health workers.

“We’ve had discussions with members of the transitional government of Afghanistan, including the deputy minister of health,” said Zack Taylor, a physician who opened his home to two of the Afghan visitors during the Memphis summit. “Their needs range from very basic medical lab procedures to medical care at the highest level.

“We hope to be able to supply physicians who can give lectures at their teaching hospital and provide equipment that will upgrade their ability to deliver healthcare to their people.”

More than two decades of war have left Afghanistan in ruins. Schools, hospitals, commercial and industrial buildings and roads have been destroyed. The country’s needs are so many and diverse that almost anyone who wants to help can be plugged in, Morris said.

In the makeshift classrooms of the girls’ school — devoid of chairs and heat — the only instructional aids available to teachers were broken pieces of chalkboard, he said.

“For 24 years they have been in the midst of war, terrorism and oppression,” Morris said. “They are trying to rebuild their country from scratch.”

The American team is working with government officials who were living overseas when the Taliban was ousted and now have come back to Afghanistan to help rebuild the country, Morris said.

“These good men … are giving up their professions in the United States and other places to come home and invest in their nation. Our desire is to join hands with them. That’s what this Memphis-Afghan Summit is all about.”

The Memphis-Afghan Friendship Summit will help link specific needs in Afghanistan with Americans willing to help, Morris added.

“We’re amazed at how many opportunities there are for people to get involved in practical projects,” he said. “One of the greatest needs is for people who are willing to offer their expertise, skills and resources to come and invest in the lives of Afghans.”

Volunteers concerned about safety issues shouldn’t worry, Taylor said.

“We have felt that our safety in Kabul has been excellent,” he said. “We have felt [safe] even on the streets in the evenings, no matter where we have been.

“The transitional government has reminded us that in the next few weeks the level of safety will be improved to the point that it will be approved by the United Nations for visits from families.”

People interested in assisting with projects to help rebuild Afghanistan can contact the Memphis-Afghan Friendship Summit: e-mail [email protected]; telephone 901-921-6118; postal mail 356 New Byhalia Rd. Suite 1B, Collierville, TN 38017; website www.mafsummit.org.
— Hear them for yourself!
Mark Morris: real.imb.org/AudioNews/morris.mp3.
Zack Taylor: real.imb.org/AudioNews/taylor.mp3.
Visiting the girls’ school: real.imb.org/AudioNews/school.mp3.
Safety in Kabul: real.imb.org/AudioNews/safety.mp3.
How to pray: real.imb.org/AudioNews/prayafgh.mp3.
— Pray that:

— Afghanistan’s many different ethnic groups will find their place in the new nation.

— Unreached people groups in Afghanistan will hear the truth.

— Freedom of religion will be written into a new constitution.

— You will be willing to do whatever God wants to make a difference in Afghanistan.

    About the Author

  • Mark Kelly