Coiffeuses sans Frontieres
Saturday, 28 December 2002
In a provocative post, Bernard Slattery asks who really makes a difference: idiots who write letters to editors, idiots who dress up as Santa Claus to rob toll booths, idiotarians who create inflated conspiracy theories, or wonderful people who take stock of what they have, no matter how humble, and use it to improve people's lives. People like Debbie Rodriguez a hairdresser from Holland Michigan, who is raising money for a non-profit beauty salon in Afghanistan. The salon is to be called the Hope Salon, and it is being set up as a training venture to assist Afghani women to reclaim their right to look beautiful, a right that was cruelly denied under the Taliban regime. Ms Rodriguez needs a total of $200,000 in goods and cash for her venture and has so far raised about $40,000, mainly in the form of beauty products.
It's the sort of story that really ought to warm the cockles of your heart, especially after they've been chilled by the examples of human idiocy Bernard cites. I've been struggling valiantly for two hours now but I still can't get my cockles much above the temperature of liquid nitrogen. This is despite the fact that the story of Ms Rodriguez quest to bring beauty back to Afghanistan is only superficially silly and underneath is the story of a good, honest woman bringing some brightness back into the lives of previously oppressed women, not to mention a little colour back onto their cheeks. Ms Rodriguez work is as important in its own way as the continuing effort to clear the countryside of Afghanistan of the large quantities of undetonated mines and other munitions, any one of which could give you a terminal bad hair day.
This report from the UN Agency IRIN gives a pretty good summary of progress so far. Here's an excerpt:
Mine clearance was in progress in the central regions of Afghanistan, where more than 920 de-miners from various implementing agencies were also carrying out awareness and survey work, he [Richard Kelly, of the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan] said. In the western regions, including the historic city of Herat, more than 200 de-miners were busy with mine clearance, awareness and surveys, while 150 de-miners were waiting to go in after they obtained security clearance for road travel.
By my addition that's 1270 de-miners, quietly getting on with the job of clearing the country's soil of undetonated high explosive. If I knew who they were I'd finish this post by naming them all. I think the cockles have warmed up to the melting point of dry ice.