Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand workers Tara D’Sousa and Nick Borthwick have recently returned from a visit to Afghanistan. While there they were accompanied on some of their field visits by representatives of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT). “We are distressed that such tragedy should befall 8 of their members, and the ambushed Afghan forces, so soon after our visit. Their families are very much in our thoughts and prayers,” said D’Sousa.
D’Sousa and Borthwick spent several days travelling in Bamyan visiting villages to observe the activities and understand the communities’ perspective of the benefits gained from the programmes being sponsored by Caritas. D’Sousa said the province is mostly peaceful and they were able to walk to the market and around the streets of the Bamyan township without incident.
“There is a real desire among the people to actively participate in the processes that define their development,” she said.
D’Sousa said Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is one many actors for peace in Afghanistan: the PRT; Catholic Relief Services from the United States (CRS – Caritas USA) and the hundreds of national staff that form their organisation; a robust civil society, representatives of whom they were able to meet with in Bamyan and Kabul; an unrestrained press and “most of all the ordinary people who work for the common good and who are so obviously proud of their country and their achievements.”
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is working, in partnership with CRS, with communities in Bamyan Province, improving watershed management and rangeland development through soil and water conservation technologies.
The programme also works with savings groups of farmers and women, to provide a collective model for improving farming techniques, marketing and producing goods for sale (wheat, potatoes, vegetables, sewing and handicrafts). Community-based schools are supported to provide children in remote rural areas access to education.
The funding for this programme has been secured through successful application to the NZ Aid Programme’s Sustainable Development Fund and will continue to support the work over three years from 2012 – 2014.
- Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
- Image: Azaranica