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Canadian wheat helps Afghanistan recover. (News).

Presbyterian Record readers of a certain vintage may remember having primary school English assignments in which they were to take the role of an inanimate object and write a first-person (so to speak) report of its journey -- a pencil, for example, travelling from factory, to supplier, to school desk, to school playground, to someone's pocket and so on. It's a safe bet (even for Presbyterians) that few students would have chosen to be 2,400 tonnes of wheat, or 800 tonnes of lentils or 200 tonnes of cooking oil.

Those enormous-sounding quantities made up a shipment from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank that travelled from Canada to Afghanistan last year. Although he didn't have to write an English assignment, Richard Phillips, director of resources for CFGB, accompanied the shipment to its destination. As stated on its Web site, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is "a Christian-based food aid and development organization that collects donations of grain, cash and other agricultural commodities for distribution to the world's hungry." It is owned by 13 Canadian church bodies, including the Presbyterian Church through Presbyterian World Service and Development, that work with international partners to ensure food gets to where it is needed. PWS&D has been working closely with the foodgrains bank for several years, frequently taking a leadership role in the distribution of aid.

This shipment first left Canada by boat for Hamburg, Germany. From Hamburg, it went by train to Dushanbe, Tajikstan. Next it was (you. guessed it) automobiles or, in this case, Russian trucks. Once the trucks had made their way through several Russian checkpoints, where all paperwork was examined thoroughly, the food took its final trip by ferry to the Chah Ab and Rustaq areas of northern Afghanistan.

When Mr. Phillips arrived with the food shipment at its final destination, he found a distribution system that was structured and meticulous; and a people who were resilient and proud. When word first spread that there was free food available, no one showed up to claim it, he says. But when a "food for work" program was announced, hundreds of people, some having walked for four hours, arrived at the distribution warehouse. Mr. Phillips recalls a particularly poignant moment when a 78-year-old man, who had been on the road for a year searching for food for his family, came up to him with tears in his eyes to say thank you.

By the time Mr. Phillips left Afghanistan, he was left with a strong sense that, given the right circumstances, the people he met can overcome the ravages of war and drought. He was also left with the confidence that food aid is reaching the people who need it. (Give this assignment an A+.)
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Title Annotation:donation from Canadian Foodgrains Bank
Author:Dickey, Tom
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Feb 1, 2003
Words:451
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