Insight into a city at the heart of war

PUBLISHED: 09:01 01 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:39 18 June 2010

A SIDMOUTH man will be giving a talk on his experiences in Afghanistan when he visited the war-torn country to see the work of a social enterprise project. Gerry Shattock, 49, of the Esplanade, travelled to Kabul last October to visit a small factory set

A SIDMOUTH man will be giving a talk on his experiences in Afghanistan when he visited the war-torn country to see the work of a social enterprise project.

Gerry Shattock, 49, of the Esplanade, travelled to Kabul last October to visit a small factory set up by the charity Afghan Action.

The project has been operating for three years and has helped around 250 people to train as carpet weavers in the specially set-up factory.

Gerry said: "We aim to give young local people six months training in how to weave a carpet. We give them a dollar a day - which is a fair amount for Afghanistan.

"We give them lunch - a hot meal and teach them literacy and numeracy.

"We also support people who have been injured or disabled in the war and one man in the factory, who has learning disabilities, is a permanent trainee.

"After the six months they look for another job or we keep them working at the factory if there is enough demand for the carpets."

Gerry is hoping to raise money through the talk and also to raise awareness of the charity as the economic climate has affected the factory.

Gerry added: "When I visited in October there were 90 to 100 people working there but the dollar is now very strong and consumer spending is down. We now have only half a dozen workers."

"We will be selling some carpets made by the trainees at the talk. Prices start at £200 but they are made from local Ghazni wool which is very high quality."

In the presentation he will be focusing on the factory and the workers as he wants "to give a different view of Afghanistan to the one in the news".

However Gerry admitted that during the visit he was never too "far away" from danger:

"Lots of people were carrying guns and I saw some American military personnel.

"The people were kind, warm, friendly and accessible but even then we knew we weren't far away from an incident kicking off."

The talk, also in aid of Sidmouth Parish Church Re-Ordering Appeal, will take place in Abbeyfield Court on Thursday, March 5 from 3pm.

Tickets (£2.50 in advance) can be bought from Paragon Books and The Mustard Seed. Alternatively tickets can be bought on the door for (£3.50).


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