Monday, January 03, 2011

Morning Star Development works to improve education in Afghanistan

Education is an enemy to fundamentalism, so with so many young people in Afghanistan it is important to improve access to education. A non-profit received a write-up in today's Colorado Springs Gazette that does just that. Morning Star Development builds community centers that serve local villages with education and literacy and even food and clothing distribution.

From the Gazette article, writer Barbara Cotter introduces us to the work of Morning Star.

Author Greg Mortensen has amassed an impressive array of speaking engagements, endorsements from the likes of Tom Brokaw, a lengthy write-up on Wikipedia and a worldwide following for his humanitarian efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan that were chronicled in his best-selling book, “Three Cups of Tea.”

Daniel Batchelder of Colorado Springs has amassed – well, he doesn’t have the best-seller, the celebrity endorsements, the standing-room-only speaking engagements. He doesn’t even get a Wikipedia entry.

But what Batchelder and his nonprofit, Morning Star Development, have accomplished in Afghanistan since 2002 rivals much of the what Mortensen has done to combat poverty and address basic human needs in areas battered by war, politics and often repressive tribal traditions.

While Mortensen concentrates primarily on building schools, Morning Star Development’s focus is on economic and community development in Afghanistan’s rural areas, where about 85 percent of the population lives. To address that broad agenda, Morning Star has built four community centers that serve about 50 villages each, launched a leadership training program, distributed food and clothing to thousands of impoverished Afghan citizens, helped with agricultural development and embarked on an “Elevating Women Initiative” to improve education and literacy for women.

Morning Star also operates four medical clinics that work to combat high infant and child mortality rates and stem the spread of infectious diseases, and helps with small-business development.

“We’re not just building buildings. We’re building people’s lives,” says Batchelder.

Helping the people of Afghanistan didn’t make Batchelder’s to-do list until 1997, when a friend who had lived in the country asked if he’d help do some humanitarian work there.

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