Rory established Turquoise Mountain in 2006 at the request of HE President Karzai, President of Afghanistan and HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, with the aim of regenerating historic urban areas, renewing Afghan traditional arts and architecture, and spurring the sustainable development of the nation’s craft industry.
Through such activities, Turquoise Mountain provides jobs, skills, and a renewed sense of national pride to Afghan women and men. At the request of the local community, Turquoise Mountain led the regeneration of Murad Khane – an area in the old city of Kabul – transforming it from a slum-like area earmarked for destruction into a vibrant cultural, educational and economic hub. Until recently the area was buried under two metres of garbage, had no running water, drainage or electricity, and its houses were in ruins. Since it started in 2006, Turquoise Mountain has restored 65 significant historical buildings and installed full water supply, electricity and sanitation to the area.
It has also worked with the community to make education and health care services available to each and every member of the community, and has built a primary school and health clinic for this purpose. The area also houses Afghanistan’s first internationally accredited vocational school – the Turquoise Mountain Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture – dedicated to training a new generation of Afghan artisans. Schools of Woodwork, Calligraphy, Ceramics and Jewellery train over 200 men and women each year as part of Turquoise Mountain’s mission to revive the rich artistic heritage of Afghanistan. Students are trained by some of the greatest living Afghan masters, and draw inspiration in their classes from the finest historical Afghan works of art. In addition to practical classes, students receive training in business, literacy, English, IT, drawing, design and art history.
Turquoise Mountain products are sold both locally and internationally, helping to revive and maintain Afghanistan’s traditional arts and crafts industry and providing a sense of pride, vocation and income for hundreds of families. Since it started, the organisation has sold nearly $2.3 million in traditional Afghan crafts and worked with some of the world’s finest designers. Recent retail partnerships have been forged with Monsoon and the British Museum in the UK and Kate Spade in the US.