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2,000 Miles Alone in the Afghan Mountains

When humanitarian-adventurer Rory Stewart set out on a walking tour across Asia, he had no way of knowing how it would change his life – and the lives of others.

British-born, American-domiciled Dr. Stewart is executive chairman of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul, which aims to help the Afghan people recover from 30 years of war. He is also director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and has been selected as a Conservative Party candidate for the British Parliament at the next national election.

British-born, American-domiciled Dr. Stewart is executive chairman of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul, which aims to help the Afghan people recover from 30 years of war. He is also director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and has been selected as a Conservative Party candidate for the British Parliament at the next national election.

There are times when it is important to follow in the footsteps of our children. When my daughter, Lili, expressed an interest in starting a foundation “to support employment projects in the greater Middle East with the hope of helping to provide a smoother transition to a post-oil economy,” I had no idea where it might lead. In fact, it has led us down an interesting path. After reading a book, The Places In Between, by British-born Dr. Rory Stewart, she began an e-mail correspondence with Stewart exploring the possibility that our Vero Beach-based family foundation might support his efforts.

In 2006, Lili and I met with Stewart in a small restaurant in Washington, D.C. where, over an odd mixture of bad apple pie and good conversation, he explained his vision of a small, culturally sensitive project that could impact the lives of ordinary people in Afghanistan and, indeed, be turned over to them within five years.

That conversation marked the beginning of our ongoing relationship with Stewart’s Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul, the foundation he will describe when he shares his perspectives on rebuilding Afghan society on March 9 at the Emerson Center in Vero Beach.

Read the entire article in the February 2010 issue