Richer families send older children to stay with relatives in Kabul to get them to schools where standards are seen as higher and better preparation for getting into university. People wanted to talk and seemed to assume that, as westerners, we might be useful – doctors, for example.
So what has gone right in Lal that, against the odds of climate and geography, it seems to be thriving?
“We decided that, actually, their main problem was illiteracy, so we arranged classes for them.” Surely, I thought, Lal must be the sane heartland of Afghanistan.
This same group of roshanfikran, before September 2001, building on their peace efforts, decided to make Lal neutral in the conflict – not Taleban or Northern Alliance – on the grounds that war itself was the main problem in Afghanistan.
There has been little aid, but from the reception we received, it appears to have been useful.