Is there any reason to believe that things will turn out anything but tragically as the West withdraws troops and dollars from Afghanistan? If you believe as I do that one person can make a tremendous difference, I have to say yes, there several good reasons. First of all, there are hundreds of non-governmental agencies and foundations working with steadiness and insight to create new leadership. One example is School for Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA), and this year’s batch of bright, ambitious students are heading off for higher education after immersion in leadership experiences in Kabul.

Vermont barn

Vermont barn

There are also individuals around the world, but mostly on the east and west coast of the US working to provide access to education and career experience for young Afghans. This week I ran into a woman who has just completed raising college funds for the Afghan student she has supported through high school in Vermont. This woman is one American putting time and energy behind Afghans politicized as children by Taliban tyranny.

Afghan students who come to the US and then defect to Canada make the news, but in contrast there are those who apply themselves to improving their country. An Afghan American doctor fresh out of med school here is spending part of each year practicing in Afghanistan. A new graduate I know has begun working for an international company based here to find companies in Afghanistan with which to form partnerships. Another Afghan is working with provincial women for the National Solidarity Program in Afghanistan. These are examples from my tiny network.

Yes, the storm clouds gather, and most of us feel defeated by our faulty policies and horrendous sacrifices of the past ten years. I see others investing in the future for the time when the energy of these young professionals will bring independence to their homeland and freedom to the Afghan women and men.