Since the American invasion, massive reconstruction and aid efforts, and the homecoming of millions of refugees, Afghanistan is still experiencing widespread hunger, homelessness and lawlessness. In this 50 minute documentary we travel through this ancient and troubled land with Rosemary Morrow, an Australian aid worker who brings her considerable wisdom and expertise to the task of reconstruction.

By trade Rosemary is a horticulturalist who for many years has been an expert in the field of Permaculture, an agricultural technique that enables individuals and communities to feed themselves using environmentally sustainable methods. She’s spent the last thirty years working in Africa, Asia and Central Europe, pioneering the introduction of this technique to shattered communities struggling to rebuild their lives after the devastation of war.

Rosemary has always worked outside the mainstream in an unassuming, minimalist style. This has given her a freedom and a unique perspective that enables her to effect change in a way that is somewhat different from the large, state sponsored aid agencies. She doesn’t arrive with a convoy of trucks laden with flour, toothpaste and politics; she’s more likely to pull up in a battered taxi with nothing but a few dollars and her small suitcase. She’s a streetwise Mary Poppins of global war zones.

In the course of her many travels through the rubble of human conflict, Rosemary has become a seasoned observer of fractured communities and understands more than most the essential elements they need in order to rebuild and function. She invariably arrives at ground zero knowing that the degree of community fragmentation is such that before she can even begin to introduce Permaculture, she has to attend to its broken social structure. Tending and cultivating the re-growth of a community is vital for any chance of developing a peaceful, sustainable way of life. Rosemary calls this preliminary work, Social Permaculture.

In this documentary we are invited into the hearts and lives of the people of Afghanistan. We go with Rosemary into a newly established orphanage and spend time with the children now living there. As their stories unfold we explore the places they have come from: the dusty, rubble-strewn streets of Kabul and the remote battle weary villages high in the rugged mountains. We also meet war widows struggling in a patriarchal society to feed and shelter their children. We hear the stories of the street kids who are burdened with the responsibility for feeding their families. In the chilling finale we go into the basement of a derelict building, discovering graphic evidence of Afghanistan’s dark and terrible underworld. Most importantly we see the glimmers of hope as Rosemary and her companions slowly and carefully help the people lift themselves out of the rubble and dirt and begin to sow the seeds of peace.

© Lysis Films