By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Duxbury’s Afghan connection

Here’s something you don’t see every day. The weekly Duxbury Clipper recently sent columnist Bruce Barrett to Afghanistan to cover the opening of a girls school funded by the Duxbury Rotary Club. Barrett did his reporting in the form of a blog, complete with photos, video, a map of the area, even a real-time weather report from the Afghan capital of Kabul.

An excerpt from Barrett’s final dispatch:

Kalashnikovs. In Duxbury, a band of men armed with assault rifles attending the opening of an elementary school would make the national news. But the Zabuli School for Girls isn’t in Duxbury. It’s in Deh Sabz, Afghanistan, a gritty town of 1,000 families on the outskirts of the capital city Kabul. Out here, standing among men armed to the teeth is calming, not frightening. It means that security is strong. Fear comes when standing among men who have turned their attention toward you, and you can’t see their weapons. More unsettling, perhaps, are the moments when you can see their weapons and the barrels are pointed up. That’s when they’re ready for action.

Not only is the series evidence of some terrific enterprise on the part of Barrett and the Clipper, but the online implementation is state-of-the-art.

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  1. o-fish-l

    Even if it’s only a tiny Duxbury weekly, it’s great to see the media focusing on the results of President Bush and the Northern Alliance in removing the Taliban. It’s also moving to see a number of Afghani schoolgirls in the photos, something that was previously an oxymoron. Hats off to President Bush, the US military, Bruce Barrett and Duxbury Clipper!

  2. Anonymous

    Yes, bravo to the good Duxbury folks, and mashallah (thanks to God). Supporting Afghan schools is the Lord’s work, as is supporting schools anywhere they’re struggling.But let’s not let the previous comment stand as truth. Afghan (not “afghani” – that’s the currency) girls attended Kabul schools and university in huge numbers under – tada – the communists. Most were driven out when the US’ proxies, the Northern Alliance and others, took over from the reds and blew up Kabul in an internecine shitfest before the talibs came in and shut ’em down entirely. Few remember that the now-sainted Massoud, boss of the NA, was a strict Islamist as well (he spoke French, though, so we chose to see him as cosmopolitan). The talibs were, admittedly, much worse, but even they gave lip service to reopening girls’ schools “some day.”And the reality: Some girls in Kabul province are going to school, and some are attending school in the bigger northerly cities. Most girls across the ‘ghan aren’t, because family and culture militate against it, even when butchers aren’t trying to blow up the buildings.And if you want to chat about the NA – warlords and their thugs, but good fighters – that’s another blog, another time.Jim (ISAF, 2005-06)

  3. Anonymous

    How about Cambridge’s Afghan connection – Hamid Karzai’s family owns the Helmand Restaurant.

  4. Josh Cutler

    Thanks for the coverage of our series Dan. It’s nice to hear the feedback. Josh Cutler, EditorDuxbury Clipper

  5. Rick in Duxbury

    Fish, it is a tiny weekly but better than one might expect. Publisher David Cutler, a former Patriot Ledger reporter and son of the late John Cutler, the founder, knows his stuff. He built a chain of 17 newspapers (Mariner Group)before selling it in the 90’s. David’s son Josh edits the paper and does a great job. Also, the reason Bruce Barrett had something on which to report was Razia Jan, a local tailor and Afghan immigrant. With little money but a lot of community support, she spearheaded development of the school in question. If enough little towns do this sort of stuff, we may achieve peace in spite of ourselves.

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