Today’s mission moment comes to you from Afghanistan.
No, I didn’t travel there as with Cuba. Indeed, the furthest I have been lately is Washington, DC. But that is part of the mission moment. Even in places as far away, and as far out of reach, as Afghanistan, the tools for rising remain the same.
You may have picked up from previous mission moments that I listen to a lot of public radio (with, I confess, a little sports radio mixed in). This morning, I heard a story about what is happening to jobs for local Afghans as American aid is pulled away in the course of our withdrawal. Not surprisingly, when funding goes away, regardless of the reason, so do services, along with businesses and jobs.
One international organization, CARE, laid off more than 450 workers as funding from US Agency for International Development (USAID) dissipated. The reporter interviewed an Afghan named Zarif about losing his job with CARE. Here’s what he said.
“I was able to find a job, based on my qualifications, can I say, or some relations that I had,” he says. “Without relationships, you’re not able to find a job.”
This being Boston Rising, that last part struck me. Without relationships, you’re not able to find a job. Halfway around the world, in a war-torn country among people with a dramatically different culture, getting a job still depends on who you know.
At Boston Rising, we always talk about the tools for rising – an education that gives you a shot at a job, a job that lets you build assets, and strong social connections. Zarif was an educated man making a decent living. When the tables turned, it was his social connections that helped him survive it. One of his colleagues, a PhD, had weaker networks, and is still unemployed.
We at Boston Rising believe that supporting the growth of strong social connections is key to our work – connections from neighbor to neighbor and community to community. Any support to a person trying to rise that either doesn’t include social connections, or suppresses or devalues them, will miss the mark. Think about someone you know who got laid off or lost a job during the economic downturn. What was the first thing that person did? She probably started calling on her networks to help her find her next opportunity. That’s partly why we are rolling out a huge network building effort in Grove Hall this summer that includes having more than 1500 conversations with residents, and offering them opportunities to connect with each other and residents outside of Grove Hall on issues important to them. You will hear more about that work in the coming weeks.
The truth about rising is true no matter who you are, black, white or brown, American or Afghan. I find great comfort in that. So, so many people rise in the ways they choose. Even in the face of staggering odds. We’re all in it together.
Up we go!
Tiziana C. Dearing
Chief Executive Officer