Land of tragedy

PUBLISHED: 10:50 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 May 2010

SIR – Yes to HG Eames (Letters, Time for Peace , Herts Advertiser November 19) – every soldier s death in Afghanistan is one too many and a tragedy. But I was shocked to learn the following about Afghanistan: more than two thirds of people over the age

SIR - Yes to HG Eames (Letters, 'Time for Peace', Herts Advertiser November 19) - every soldier's death in Afghanistan is one too many and a tragedy.

But I was shocked to learn the following about Afghanistan: more than two thirds of people over the age of 15 cannot read or write; children are growing up seeing nothing except fighting (Afghanistan has been at war for 36 years and the average life expectancy is 44); many school textbooks teach counting in bullets and grenades not apples and oranges and boys as young as eleven are taught to fire a Kalashnikov; many girls still do not go to school and will never have jobs or status; life for millions is almost medieval in its poverty; the welfare of ordinary men, women and children is utterly lost in the struggles for power going on around them.

One young female politician, Malalai Joya, wrote: "I come from a land of tragedy called Afghanistan."

And then I found Greg Mortenson and his book Three Cups of Tea.

Mortenson was an American mountaineer. Now he raises funds and builds schools. To start with in the remote villages of Pakistan (82 in the 10 years to 2003).

Now in Afghanistan. He is giving his life to this work.Why? Because he sees that a country has no chance of success if its children, especially its girls, are uneducated. His aim is peace - one school at a time.

He is a true inspiration, a good news story in the midst of war and mistrust.

The decision to keep or withdraw our troops from Afghanistan is not mine.

What I do know is that this country cries out for help.

Greg's new book, Stones into Schools, about Afghanistan is published here in early January 2010. Proceeds from both books go to his charity The Central Asia Institute. I humbly recommend you to read them.

ANNIE HITCH

Saxon Road, Wheathampstead


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