Media Alert: ABC News Series Anchor Cheryl Jennings with Roots of Peace in Afghanistan. AiringFebruary 12, 2015 at 6pm.

Roots of Peace Founder/CEO, Heidi Kuhn, and President, Gary Kuhn, traveled to Afghanistan last week and met with top leaders. Heidi and Gary Kuhn met independently with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, General John F. Campbell, U.S. Ambassador Michael McKinley, and USAID Mission Director William Hammink. This was a historic event for Roots of Peace and a symbolic gesture from the Afghan government to show their support of civil society and alternatives to war in the country. Roots of Peace is one of a handful of organizations that has demonstrated the strong ability to improve lives and create jobs in Afghanistan, despite the conflict that has affected the country over the last decade.

ABC News Anchor Cheryl Jennings joined Roots of Peace for the trip and will be airing her stories and exclusive interviews over the coming weeks. The first piece be broadcasted on February 12 at 6pm.

Roots of Peace, by creating livelihoods and improving the agricultural sector, has helped over 1 million Afghan farmers and their families gain economic stability. For example:

Mohammad Nasir is a 72-year-old grape farmer from Charikar, Afghanistan. For years, his land was on the frontlines of fighting.  After a mujahidin-fired rocket destroyed his home he had to cut down his trees and sell them as firewood to move his family somewhere safer. The family later returned to their farm, only to have the insurgency destroy the irrigation to all of Charikar, turning farmland into dustbowls. Nasir and his family were reduced to begging to survive.

When the violence finally subsided, Nasir was able to return home. Today, he is a proud Roots of Peace grape farmer. The use of trellising, introduced by our program, has enabled him to double his grape yield and improve the quality so that he can export to demanding international markets. With the increased income, Nasir has been able to send his grandchildren to school. He says, “In the place where you are now standing I saw men killed in a rocket attack. I could have given up, but I built this vineyard so that my children would have a better life than I have had. The children are in school and the vineyard is producing. It gives us hope.”

Roots of Peace is optimistic about the future of Afghanistan.  We have seen stability created in each of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces where we work and new opportunity in the 14,000 metric tons of fruit and nuts that we export yearly into new markets. Now that Afghans have the opportunity to farm on their own lands, provide for their children, and lead a life with more economic stability, we find hope that they are less likely to turn towards extremism or alternative means of income.

Roots of Peace programs will continue to revitalize Afghanistan to allow farmers to grow new crops and connect with regional markets to improve agricultural livelihoods.