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Enduring Afghan hospitality

By Anand GopalCorrespondent / March 24, 2009

Reporters on the Job: To report the story on social audit committees in Afghanistan, I traveled to a remote village hours from the nearest highway (read the story here). I sat with hundreds of other villagers as the village leadership explained the details of the various projects that had been implemented.

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After the presentations, villagers strode to the front and asked questions or challenged the leaders on various points. After an hour, or so, the questioning finished. I assumed that it was time to go. But then the organizers called me to the stage. I was caught off guard and had no idea what was in store for me, but I thought it probably wasn’t wise to refuse.

As I stepped on stage, the village head handed me a gift – a shawl – and the villagers broke into applause. I was touched, as I have often been during my time in Afghanistan. Afghans who face difficult circumstances and bone-grinding poverty will nonetheless often find a way to welcome a visitor.

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