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From Mines to Vines: Two Mothers in Afghanistan

During the month of October, Mrs. Shamim Jawad and Mrs. Heidi Kuhn traveled to Afghanistan to witness a harvest of hope. Mrs. Shamim Jawad, wife to Ambassador Said T. Jawad and founder of AYENDA and Mrs. Heidi Kuhn, founder of Roots of Peace, traveled around Afghanistan, visiting health clinics, farms, orchards and schools.

Afghanistan survived thirty years of war, but continues to suffer from the estimated 10 million landmines that lay hidden just below the surface of the country’s beautiful terrain. These landmines have ruined land that could have been used to grow fruit or provide space for children to play soccer. Even today, thousands of children continue to fall victim to this deadly plague.

Roots of Peace is a humanitarian organization dedicated to eradicating landmines worldwide and rehabilitating the land to make it productive once more. Thanks to Roots of Peace, 100,000 landmines and unexploded ordinances in the once fertile Shomali Plains north of Kabul have been removed. With an eye toward sustainable development, Roots of Peace has also trained over 6000 Afghan farmers in alternative agricultural livelihoods. Afghan farmers are now replacing the scourge of landmines with the nectar of fresh grapes and pomegranates. They have built over 50 “multiplication nurseries” to help quickly replace missing vineyards destroyed by war and drought. Farmers expect to grow over 300,000 plants in 2006, providing vital economic links between developing markets. Roots of Peace has gone a step further, helping Afghan products reach international markets in Germany, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait, India, and Russia. Exhausted by thirty years of war, these farmers are working to rebuild Afghanistan’s agricultural infrastructure and seeking peaceful solutions for future generations.

Speaking with farmers, children, and other women and mothers, Mrs. Kuhn and Mrs. Jawad learned about the hardships facing the Afghan people today, including a devastating drought that significantly impacted agricultural production. In her blog, New Roots in Afghanistan, hosted by the Skoll Foundation’s Social Edge, Mrs. Kuhn detailed the experiences that these two mothers had as they traveled throughout Afghanistan to help to heal the wounds of war. “Generational wisdom reminds us that when a grapevine is planted—regardless of the color of our hand or the faith in our hearts—the ‘roots’ will grow with sunlight, water, and a human hand. The grapevine is an ancient icon of peace celebrating the seeds we have in common rather than those which separate us,” she wrote.

The trip concluded with a meeting with President Karzai, who thanked Roots of Peace for their commitment to Afghanistan’s reconstruction. In the spirit of building bridges between cultures and countries, the travels of two mothers of Afghan and American heritage brought a bit hope to the people of Afghanistan.

Upon her return to the United States, Mrs. Jawad commented that Roots of Peace is one exemplary organization among hundreds that are working tirelessly to help Afghans rebuild. “I walked with Heidi through the minefields of my country to witness firsthand the effects of replacing deadly landmines with bountiful vineyards. The minefields cleared and orchards planted by Roots of Peace ’s are the positive images of Afghanistan's rebirth after decades of war and fear,” she said.

To read more about their experiences, please visit:

To watch ABC News' story on Roots of Peace in Afghanistan, please visit:






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