The founder of Roots of Peace, an NGO that cultivates peace with agriculture: “Our headquarters attacked, Biden and Pope Francis help us save lives”
I got the visas to leave only 34 of my 360 Afghan employees, how do I decide who to save and who to leave here to die, it’s too painful a Schindler’s List ».
Heidi Kuhn, 63, her voice is broken with emotion. He left his home in San Francisco and is just landed in Istanbul to solve this unsustainable dilemma. He wants to find “alternative ways”, open new channels. It would not be the first time for her that twenty years ago she interrupted her journalistic career in the US to found Roots of Peace, the roots of peace, an NGO also engaged in Afghanistan to replace minefields with generous orchards: pomegranates, almond trees and above all vineyards.
Cultivating peace with agriculture, “turning swords into plow blades”are not just slogans: “In a nation ravaged by decades of war, we teach Afghan farmers agricultural techniques. For example to put the trellises, before the grapes grew on the ground and rotted. We have planted over 5 million fruit trees in each province and created over 10 thousand jobs, even managing to export to neighboring countries for a value of over 290 million dollars ”, he says proudly. Now all this work is in danger of being interrupted: for four days the Taliban have taken possession of their headquarters in Kabul.
“We had hidden some files, but they managed to retrieve the names of the employees, they say they know everything about us, we are branded», He tells al Courier service
Rahimi, 37, security officer, beaten in recent days by the militiamen like his other colleagues. Threats, beatings.
With his wife and three children, Rahimi now lives in hiding. Always on the run: every day he waits for darkness to change refuge. “The only way out of this hell is to leave the country, but at the checkpoints on the way to the airport we cannot show our documents, they would take us immediately,” he says disheartened. After all they work for an American and pro-government NGO which is also led by a woman, also a fervent Catholic: Heidi Kuhn met the last three Popes and Francis nine times.
Precisely with the accusation of proselytizing the Kabul office of Roots of Peace it had already been attacked by the Taliban on March 28, 2014.
“But we haven’t left the camp; the courage, the faith, the confidence to be able to improve the lives of the people, 80% devoted to agriculture, got the better of fear. In Afghanistan they call me “Heidi mama”. We are not a religious or political organization, we also feed the children of the Taliban, we would like to make them understand», sospira Kuhn. On the one hand, he is asking for the support of the White House to increase the number of visas granted to his, on the other, he hopes for the intervention of Pope Francis “That reminds the world that we are all daughters and sons of Abraham”.
In the meantime, he works behind the scenes to save the harvest and be able to stay.
August 23, 2021 (change August 23, 2021 | 23:05)