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Cablegate: Assisting Afghans with Cultural Restoration and Reviving

VZCZCXRO8858
RR RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #0635/01 0520603
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210603Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5729
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000635

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL SCUL ECON AF
SUBJECT: ASSISTING AFGHANS WITH CULTURAL RESTORATION AND REVIVING
HISTORIC CRAFTS

1. Summary: Embassy met a key benchmark in support for Turquoise
Mountain Trust (TMT) with the February 16 graduation of 30 students
from a three-year program sponsored by the Turquoise Mountain
Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture, the premier institution
of its kind in the country. The event marked an important milestone
in our efforts to assist Afghanistan to regenerate its traditional
crafts and generate sustainable growth in this sector. End Summary.


2. On February 16, the first class of 30 male and female Afghan
students from the Schools of Woodwork, Ceramics, and Calligraphy &
Painting graduated from the three-year course at the Turquoise
Mountain Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture. The event,
attended by USAID Mission Director and held at Kabul's Moghul-era
Bagh-e Babur gardens, highlighted Afghanistan's cultural and
historical heritage, emphasized the gains that have been made in
reviving this heritage, and instilled a sense of hope by recognizing
the efforts and promising futures of the young graduates. The TMT
program goals are to train designers, craftsmen and entrepreneurs,
promote creativity and establish the foundation for a broader
cultural revival.

------------------------
Restoring Historic Kabul
------------------------

3. Afghanistan was once world-renowned for its arts, crafts and
architecture and Turquoise Mountain was the greatest Afghan capital
of the Middle Ages. For Afghans, the name still evokes the
country's glorious cultural heritage. Established in 2006 by former
British diplomat Rory Stewart, Turquoise Mountain Trust has in its
short life made major strides in reviving Afghanistan's crafts
traditions after three decades of conflict. The Trusts's high-end
projects have successfully recruited the support of senior Afghan
and international patrons such as President Karzai and the Prince of
Wales.

4. USAID financial support for TMT began in November 2008 began
with the economic, social and cultural regeneration of Murad Khane,
a commercial/residential precinct in Kabul's Old City Center.
Turquoise Mountain and the local community cleared more than 12,000
cubic meters of garbage, repaired over 50 houses, installed 330
meters of drainage, reconstructed eight shops, and paved the area
for the first time. TMT is also completing restoration of four
buildings of architectural or cultural significance, establishing
Murad Khane as an anchor of Kabul's historic areas and galvanizing
further development through its restored historic quarter, active
art and crafts schools, and marketing of Afghan products to domestic
and international markets.

----------------------------
Strengthening Ancient Crafts
----------------------------

5. A recent increase in USG support is enabling the Trust to
establish the Institute of Afghan Arts and Architecture in Murad
Khane and ensure its sustainability. Already the premier training
centre for traditional arts in Afghanistan, the institute offers
high quality vocational education programs to artisans in Woodwork,
Calligraphy and Painting, Jewelry and Gem-cutting, and Ceramics. By
2015, TMT aims to meet the total costs of the Institute through a
combination of revenue from crafts sales and private philanthropic
contributions.

-------------------------
Opportunities for Afghans
-------------------------

6. Under the current agreement with USAID, the Institute will
provide technical vocational crafts training and complementary
skills (business, Dari literacy, English, design, regional art
history and IT) to a total of 200 students over a 5-year period.
Turquoise Mountain is also establishing a Graduate Opportunities
Program to provide wide-ranging assistance to its graduates as they
secure employment and/or study further in Afghanistan and abroad.
While reviewing a display of the Institute's products and speaking
with recent graduates, the USAID Director noted the enthusiasm of
the students and the fact that the vast majority of graduates have
already secured employment or continuing education positions. Some
of the graduates will be placed in Turquoise Mountain Design &
Production Studio. The Institute is becoming a source of income,
skills and pride for Afghan women and men.

EIKENBERRY


Clearance page: CULTURAL RESTORATION: STUDENTS HELP REVIVE HISTORIC
CRAFTS

Draft: John Irons, USAID/OEG


KABUL 00000635 002 OF 002


Clearances:

PAS: Steven Susens: Date: 2/20

D/Dir: Rebecca Black: Date: 2/20

D/CDDEA: Matt Boyse: Date: 2/20

DIR: William M. Frej: Date:

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