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Constructing hope in Afghanistan

JANUARY 26, 2012
By Chloe Kowalski ’12, Contributing Writer

A symbol of passion and creativity, the marigold radiates shining forecasts of thriving and lasting life. As such, Gary Moorehead’s foundation, located in the often-harsh environment of Taloqan City, Afghanistan, is optimistically named Marigold.

Marigold, founded in 2004 by Moorehead, is a non-governmental organization. Funded in part by the U.S. State Department, the organization provides education, health and medical services, and construction services. Marigold can claim responsibility for many of the city’s improvements, including a children’s school built from the ground up, multiple new drinking wells, and a bridge constructed entirely with materials from the town and mostly by the city’s own people. Taloqan is located in the Takhar province, which is in the northeast corner of Afghanistan.

On Tuesday night, Moorehead shared his experiences in Afghanistan with Furman through a series of photographs taken in Taloqan. The images depicted burkas and babies, camels and caravans, tulips and tanks. For each face, Moorehead knew the soul within, and shared glimpses of triumph and tragedy from a colorful culture marked by war and hardship.

When Moorehead moved to Afghanistan in 2003, he intended to make his trip a short-term project. However, he fell in love with the people and realized that by simply sticking around he earned the town’s trust — and thus had more opportunities to suggest changes for the better.

“It’s really challenging to avoid the overly emotional role when thinking about what is most important for these people in the long-term,” he said.

A native of New England with Irish and English roots, Moorehead has experience in homebuilding and hospitality. These talents have served him well in rebuilding Taloqan.

“Whatever we build must be designed well to withstand earthquakes, but it must also be beautiful and attractive to provide integrity for the community,” Moorehead explained about a recently built tuberculosis health clinic.

Marigold’s ongoing work in Afghanistan seeks to provide far-reaching effects of justice and love. Despite the country’ s political, religious and economic hardships, Moorehead’s experience has a universal message: Indulge your curiosity, take opportunities, and love your neighbor whenever you are home.

Last updated January 26, 2012
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