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Friday, July 16, 2010

Afghanistan: A Rationale For Giving in War-Times

This past week, with a few exceptions, HOPE International Development Agency’s global staff congregated in Canada for a biannual summit. During this occasion, people who are not often in the same country—let alone office building—get to connect, share stories, and most importantly, plan for the future.

Esmat Nazaryar, Director of HOPE Afghanistan, is typically an anticipated presenter despite the fact that he claims he is ‘no good’ at speaking. He works in the most isolated setting and under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. Starvation, which is arguably the hallmark of the worst kind of poverty, is a seasonal reality for his people. He works with families too poor to get through droughts—they will eat their seed stock to survive and have nothing for the next planting season.

At one point in the discussion, Esmat was asked how we should respond to people who are unsure of investing into Afghanistan’s poor. Couldn’t the war, if it continues or worsens, simply sweep away any gains for the people? Will their donations be ultimately wasted?

After expressing his very defensible opinion that the situation in Afghanistan—especially where he lives in the remote north—will not deteriorate, Esmat reminded all present why his perspective at our gatherings is so valued. He said that the reason to continue to give despite war or instability is this: when you do, you help his people, who hate war. You do not help the warlords or the politicians, or any party that makes war in his nation. By taking away your investment, you weaken those who hate war, and those who make war grow stronger by comparison.

It reminds us: peace is yet another reason to give. Even war is no excuse for neglect of the world’s poorest people.

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