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This article was published 12/8/2011 (3364 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SHE grew up and went to school in Winnipeg, now Alexandra "Ali" Lamont is trying to make it safe for kids in Afghanistan to go to school.
"I'll be assisting with the institutional development of Afghan police," said Lamont, who leaves for Kabul next week.
Making Afghanistan safe for people to get around is key to its future, said the 45-year-old with a law degree and masters in economics who works with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
"It's fulfilling over there, trying to make some kind of difference," said Lamont, who spent five months in Kandahar last year.
"You see flocks of kids going to school." There's so many kids enrolled, some schools run in three shifts.
"Afghans are keen to move forward -- girls and boys -- to take advantage of this opportunity."
Her one-year term is in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital. The diplomat and policy analyst will work with experts from a number of countries to establish a police force to serve and protect Afghans.
"It's institutional capacity-building to give them longer-term enduring strength," said Lamont, who is visiting family in Winnipeg before she leaves for Afghanistan.
There, she will have a driver and security in place but, on a safety scale of one to five, the posting in the volatile country is a "five-plus," said Lamont, whose home is in Ottawa.
"You know they can't guarantee absolutely your safety but if you hide in a bunker you can't do your job," she said.
"There's always an elevated tension. You get accustomed to it... I came back to Ottawa to find it slow and sleepy." And she wanted to go back.
"I felt Canada's engagement in Afghanistan is one of our most important international commitments... No one seems to do very well if Afghanistan is in difficulties."
She's not too concerned about her safety there. Lamont isn't armed in Afghanistan but she's had some weapons training.
In Kandahar, she received a brief tutorial on how to shoot an AK-47 assault rifle.
"I realized they're very imprecise," she said. She may be helping to set up a police force but guns are not Lamont's specialty or pleasure.
"I felt under-armed and under-tattooed in that environment," she said. "I'm happy to leave that to the experts."
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
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