Posted by Carol Benson
We were privileged to hear from Australian Diplomat, Singer/Songwriter and Comedian Iain (Fred) Campbell Smith on Tuesday evening. Fred is the recipient of the 2021 ACT Chief Minister’s Rotary Peace Award for his work in Afghanistan. He is also the author of “The Dust of Uruzgan” published in 2016.
Fred was posted to the Afghanistan province of Uruzgan in 2009 as part of the second mentoring and reconstruction task force. 
He told us how life had improved for so many Afghan people during the 20 years of US and Allied Forces occupation with business, healthcare, and the economy all improving but, most importantly education for women and children.
He entertained us with his composition “The Dust of Uruzgan” which describes how the ever present fine dust of the province permeates everything.
Fred was also part of the Australian contingent who assisted with the evacuations of Australian staff and Afghanis at Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul which started on August 15 this year, when the Taliban took over Kabul. We were also shown footage of the chaos that ensued during the evacuation period. The Taliban erected razor wire around the airport to control the thousands of people trying to flee the country.
Fred’s view is that the Taliban are not skilled in governing and as we have already seen, the country is reverting back to its previous repressive conditions. However, many people have experienced the freedom of democracy and, whilst change will take a long time to happen there is hope for a generational change and a more settled country.