> Budd MacKenzie
> Afghanistan and The War for Hearts and Minds
> Budd MacKenzie is the founder of Trust in Education (TIE) a grass
> roots, non-profit organization founded in May 2003 to provide health
> care, education and economic development programs in Afghanistan, the
> fifth poorest country in the world, with a per capita yearly income
> of $200. TIE (www.trustineducation.org) is also devoted to educating
> Americans about US involvement in Afghanistan, past, present and
> future.
> Budd will describe TIE’s programs, including raising funds for a
> secular school for boys and girls in the village of Lalander,
> assisting economic development by providing over 140 micro-credit
> loans, expanding agricultural production, and improving irrigation
> systems, and teaching farming techniques. Budd will also describe
> TIE’s belief in the power of American and Afghan communities working
> together, and TIE's efforts to make direct connections between
> American communities and Afghan villages. He will also examine the war
> for hearts and minds and provide insights into why we may be losing
> the war. He is convinced, however, that it's far from over and can be
> won.

Budd began by saying he found out about the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan by reading about a guy that was trying to clean up the situation in the Sunday paper. It took him six weeks to get through to the guy, but when he did he found out that directly helping out in Afghanistan is so affordable that he signed up to take care of the village of Lalander. Since then he has learned so much about international aid and the roles of the various players in the game that he has become committed to changing things.

The first project he did was to build a school for the kids of Lalander. Budd was showing pictures of that to people here when he realized there was no playground. On his next trip to Afghanistan he had swings, slides, and a soccer field installed. While he was there he realized they had no paper, pens, or books at the school. He got those and then learned they had no running water. After that they needed a school library. He has found financial resources to enable local contractors to provide all these things. The school is now a going part of the village, and the kids are getting a lot out of it.

Also while Budd was in Afghanistan he learned that during the 1980s war their irrigation had been cut off. (It's that old military strategy, to kill a farmer, cut off his water.) Since then he has worked with the Polytechnic University in Kabul to develop ram pumps that will provide it without using electricity or gasoline. Once water was flowing TIE began supporting the planting of fruit trees and vegetables. They have also worked with the village to build a cold cellar for storing potatoes for sale during the off season, making them a much more profitable cash crop. These programs he finances with microcredit loans because it works out better when the farmer knows he is responsible for the money he is given.

MacKenzie attributed part of his success to the fact he was not representing the government, the army, or any other big institution. A measure of his success is that lots of other villages in the area now want to follow the same kind of development strategy. However, this requires many more boomers with time on their hands that want to make a difference. He finished his talk by urging us all to get involved in some project like TIE.

Things found out during Q&A:

One lucky break MacKenzie got was that after he had picked Lalander as his development target, he met a cabbie from the area who was able to introduce him to the elders of the town. Without that break his efforts could easily have been much less effective.

Lalander is about fifteen miles outside Kabul, which means it's an hour away because the roads are so bad.

Afghanistan still has a lot of land mines scattered about. You hear another one going off every now and then. Usually kids playing are the victims.

To find out more or to donate, please visit: