THIS is the Afghanistan I've seen first-hand
and it makes me positively enraged... over two trips in 2008 and two more in the offing for this year, the kind of disparity described in this article that i've personally witnessed is beyond despicable...
Inexplicable Wealth of Afghan Elite Sows Bitterness
Across the street from the Evening in Paris wedding hall, a monument to opulence surrounded by neon-lighted fountains and a five-story replica of the Eiffel Tower, is a little colony of tents where 65 families, mostly returnees from Pakistan, huddle against the winter cold and wish they had never come home.
Similar startling contrasts abound across the Afghan capital. Children with pinched faces beg near the mansions of a tiny elite enriched by foreign aid and official corruption. Hundreds of tattered men gather at dawn outside a glittering new office building to compete for 50-cent jobs hauling construction debris.
"I am a farmer with 11 children. Our crops dried up, so I came to the city to find work, but all day I stand here in the cold and no one hires me," said Abdul Ghani, 47. "All the jobs and money go to those who have relatives in power, and corruption is everywhere. How else could they build these big houses? Nobody cares about the poor," he added bitterly. "They just make fun of us."
Seven years after the fall of the Taliban and the establishment of a civilian-led, internationally backed government, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with rates of unemployment, illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition on a par with the most impoverished nations in sub-Saharan Africa. Most homes lack light, heat and running water; most babies are born at home and without medical help.
when they say "most homes," they ain't kidding... unless you have major, MAJOR bucks at your disposal, even the thin, thin layer of the middle class in kabul does without heat and electricity most of the time... if you're lucky, you MIGHT have a small, 5hp generator to power your lights in the evening OR the pump in your water well, but not both, and THAT'S assuming you have enough money to buy fuel for the generator... it's ugly, ugly, ugly, and, now that nighttime temps are getting down into the low teens F, there are people literally DYING every day from the cold, usually the most vulnerable, the children and the elderly... Submit To Propeller