Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Afstan: Good news--Globe and Mail catches up with Terry Glavin/And, gasp, blasts our government

Mr Glavin was writing from Afstan about this brave Afghan over a year ago, and again with a Christmas message from him this year. Patrick White of the Globe now catches up (good on him, better late than...the sort of positive story our media far too infrequently run):
An Afghan success story: a place where women are free to dream

Esanullah Eshan is a man under siege.

It's not so much the weekly threats of beatings or bombings that dog him from first prayer to last. It's figuring out where to seat the 500 brassy women who stream through the doors of his school, the Afghanistan-Canadian Community Centre [see here], to risk their lives in pursuit of diplomas, jobs and dreams.

Just beyond the school's gates, merely showing their eyes in public could be a punishable offence. Here in Mr. Eshan's office, the sexes are startlingly equal.

"Sir, I have no space to work," said one in perfect English, her eyes trained squarely on her principal.

"Sir, you must sign this form," said another.

"Sir, when will I get my diploma?"

Mr. Eshan, who opened the school in 2007 with funds from individual Canadian donors and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), can barely keep up. Since it opened, the community school's population has exploded from 100 to 700 students - a rate of growth that has stretched both Mr. Eshan and his building. With enrolment growing, he and a group of Canadians are trying to cobble together funds for an expansion. If they can't meet their target, Kandahar's one and only vocational school for women could be forced to start turning away prospective students.

"As you can see, we are at capacity already," he said in one of the school's computer labs recently, where a line of women waited for open computers. "So much time is taken just finding seats for them all. We have been mobbed. We need more computers, more Internet capacity, more space."

Mr. Eshan has cooked up an expansion plan with the help of the Canadian International Learning Foundation, an Ottawa-based charity that funds education in war-torn regions and has launched a website to support Mr. Eshan's work (http://www.theafghanschool.org). The addition - he calls it the Information Resource Center - would feature an expansive library of English books, television, videoconferencing screens and high-speed Internet. Around $20,000 would do the trick, he said, but there are high barriers to progress in this southern Afghan city where conservative views of a woman's place in society reign...

Read on. But, in the apparent interest of being fair and balanced, there is also this piece today by Globeite Graeme Smith (of detainee abuse-exposing fame, see "From Canadian custody into cruel hands", April 2007):
Canada ignores local lawyers offering free advice to detainees
Not "free" for Canada though:
Mr. Ibrahimi calculates his group could tackle the problem with an eight-month pilot program costing $47,600 (U.S.). That is a modest sum by the standards of foreign-assistance efforts in southern Afghanistan. Canada has spent $4-million on physical upgrades to Sarpoza, but has never supported legal aid for detainees in the prison...
Somewhat related:
"Torture in Afghanistan: The Liberals knew" redux


Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Lawyers! :-(

"...Mr. Ibrahimi calculates his group could tackle the problem with an eight-month pilot program costing $47,600 (U.S.)." Does anyone doubt that this 47 grand would only be for openers? If this teeny-weeny grant sneaks through, with pressure from all The Usual Suspects, be prepared to keep adding zeros to that number...

"...But, Your Honor, while it's true my client was captured with a hot, still-smoking AK-47 in his hands, he doesn't even know how to operate an AK-47, and comes from an impoverished family background...And he was planning to use the explosives in his pack to dig a well for his farm..." Sounds like grounds to keep "human rights" lawyers employed for some time-on somebody else's dime.

(I still like the advice given to Macbeth during the plotting of the coup d'etat against King Duncan in "Macbeth". "...the first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." ;-)

2:13 p.m., December 30, 2009  

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