(Feb 22, 2022) Steve Brown is a Past Rotary International Trustee. Motivated by the tragedy of 9/11/2001, he has traveled to Afghanistan 12 times in the last 19 years, working with various programs of the Rotary Foundation and other partnering organizations. He helped establish educational and humanitarian programs in the city of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province in the eastern part of Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border and 80 miles east of the capital, Kabul.
Steve spoke to us by Zoom, reviewing successes in working with local Afghans to establish a Rotary Club in Jalalabad and a Sister Cities relationship with his hometown of San Diego. He discussed programs including building schools, establishing Internet-connected computer labs for boys and girls in public high schools, and working with the Nangarhar University to facilitate English language training for Rotary’s polio eradication efforts.
With support from the local Rotary Club there, Jalalabad Rotary School has graduated over 8000 students since 2004, 30% of them girls, a big social change in a society where traditionally only boys could be educated. There were over 27,000 high school graduates since 2008 from 7 girls’ high schools and 9 boys’ high schools in Jalalabad. Over 7000 students have graduated from Nangarhar University in IT and ESL since 2012. The La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Foundation is supporting 26 educational programs up through the Nangarhar University level.
The list of donors to Rotary programs there includes the World Bank, USAID, Rotary Foundation, NATO, US Department of State, Canadian International Development Agency, San Diego-Jalalabad Sister Cities Foundation, and private donors and individuals. The total number of new polio cases in 2021 was 43 in Afghanistan and 8 in Pakistan, the only 2 countries where polio is still endemic.
Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city, was captured by the Taliban on August 15, 2021. Then the US military began its withdrawal from the country in accordance with the US-Taliban peace agreement signed by President Trump in February 2020. Things have changed dramatically with the fall of the Afghan National Government.  Steve remains in daily touch with his colleagues in Afghanistan. He discussed how things have evolved, and the challenges facing Afghans today.