Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fwd: Friends of Afghanistan Afghan travelogue

--- pokerdoctor <> wrote:

Well, I guess it's a travelogue if you walk from Herat to Kabul - in a straight line through the mountains - in the winter- in 2002 (soon after Tora Bora). Yikes.

The author went on to be a deputy governor in British-occupied Iraq. An amazing journey and an amazing book.

Rory Stewart
The Places in Between
Harcourt, 2006, $14.00 (paperback)

Bill Loughner
RPCV, 65-67

From: nancy cunningham
Date: Dec 10, 2006 4:08 PM
Subject: Re: Friends of Afghanistan Afghan travelogue

Time to revisit a travelogue from the 50's (or was it
60's?) called "A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush" by Eric
Newby. The golden years of Afghanistan, the
Afghanistan we knew.

Nancy Cunningham

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fwd: Friends of Afghanistan Fwd: Benefit for families in Afghanistan

Date: Dec 6, 2006 2:58 PM
Subject: Friends of Afghanistan Fwd: Benefit for families in Afghanistan

For those of you in the Twin Cities area, this is an excellent program.

------ Original Message ------
Received: Wed, 06 Dec 2006 09:27:46 AM CST
From: Marita Bujold
Subject: Benefit for families in Afghanistan

Dear friend,
I would like to invite you to attend the fourth annual Festival of Music for families in Afghanistan.

The beneficiary for this year's event will be a local organization called Fifty Lanterns. [] They have partnered with Habitat for Humanity in Afghanistan to provide sustainable light source for the homes and school and clinic which are being built for a Hazara community near Masar e Sharif. This community of refugees has returned to Afghanistan in the hope of building a life there after several years in the refugee camps in Pakistan.
The mission of Fifty Lanterns is to provide high powered solar lanterns to people in regions of the world which have been isolated and damaged by war. The first fifty lanterns were delivered by co-founder photo journalist Linda Cullen to widows in Afghanistan just over a year a ago.
I attended a presentation given by Linda Cullen last month. She showed photographs of her October visit to Masar e Sharif. She delivered 150 lanterns to the community. They people were immensely grateful. Other groups had expressed a desire to help them. But no one has followed through on their promises. It was exciting and gratifying to learn that this long suffering people are beginning to build a new life. They have few resources. Their income is dependent upon the wages of the men who work as day laborers in Masar e Sharif.
But this collaboration between Habitat and Fifty Lanterns has provided them with hope and very practical help. The lanterns provide a clean, safe source of light for 10 years.

You can help Fifty Lanterns to provide light and hope. Invite a friend for a memorable afternoon of music followed by a buffet of Central Asian food. Every dollar donated will be given to Fifty Lanterns. Reserve tickets today. [See below]
Thank you!
Marita Bujold

Jane M Willard RPCV Afghanistan '72-74 PARSA CRAFTS 612/961-3489 (cell) FAX 651/695-1661

Friday, December 01, 2006

Other great ideas for our support

from Jane Willard

Thu Nov 30, 2006 8:55 am (PST)

waleikom salaam, Tony and Terry

I currently support Mohamed Kharoti's GreenVillageSchools in
Lashkar Gah, my old Peace Corps site. He is an Oregon doctor
from a nomadic family that was settled in Nadiali (I hope I got
that right Mohamed).
<> . His school is 50-50 girls
and boys, and he is hoping to expand to higher levels.

I also support PECA, Partnership for the Education of the
Children of Afghanistan, founded by Ghafar and Laila Lakanval who
are business people here in the Twin Cities. <> .
They have built a school in Khost, where Ghafar is from. It is
the first school in Khost to teach girls. They are also heading
up an effort to form an alliance of all the Twin City Afghan
related NGOs which include PARSA crafts and 50 Lanterns.
Finally, they are working with several other groups in Wardak.

Finally, I also support the work of Aschiana, which serves street
children in Kabul. <>

Fwd: Friends of Afghanistan Digest Number 577

PeaceCorpsFriends of Afghanistan - RPCV and Friends of Afghanistan Community
Thu Nov 30, 2006 8:06 am (PST)
Terry Jaan Salaam,

I wrote to Greg a few years ago when I was looking for school construction partners in Afghanistan. After repeated contact attempts with no response from Greg or anyone from his Central Asia Institute, I had to find other NGO counterparts in country to run our educational equity projects. He admits that the administrative and organizational aspects of his work are not his best assets. I will recontact him to see if there are any projects we can work on together, especially since he is working in some of the more remote provinces that many of us served in.

Regarding the specifics of school construction, cost per room is about $7,500 and rising. After contributing to the construction of five schools, I have been advised to support Afghan education in ways that do not put us in competition with the big multi-national construction companies who are subsidized by US, Japanese, European and UN grants.
My organization is currently supporting Khris Nedam's project in Wardak. We currently have two schools under construction with two more planned.

Personally, my next project will be 'Water for Oprah's Schools." Orpah just built four schools in Samangan my Peace Corps province through HTAC "Help the Afghan Children" run by Surya Sadeed out of Washington, DC. The schools are great but they are in desperate need of a dedicated supply of water. We have about $12K raised for this project and we want to recruit hundreds of other school districts to support Oprah's educational activities in Afghanistan.

I'll keep you and FoA updated as this project gains traction. Let's really try to get in touch with Greg. He has done great things for Afghanistan and he deserves our support.
If anyone has already contacted Greg please let Terry and me know how to best get in touch.

Peace, Tony

President, Friends of Afghanistan
Director, Schools and Futures, Inc.
Advisor, Western New York
Sister School Coalition
Peace Corps, Afghanistan 1972-75

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Three Cups of Tea is a MUST READ! Please read this book, then come back here to see how you can join in with Friends of Afghanistan as we renew our efforts to build schools and provide education for Afghanistan's forgotten children.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Afghan Connections Newsletter Available

Dear RPCVs and FoAs Salaam,

I am pleased to announce the completion of the next edition of Afghan Connections the official newsletter of the Friends of Afghanistan. Kudos to AC Editor Dianne Holley for her dedication and hard work. Dianne is ably assisted by Jessie Schilling who will oversee the printing and mailing of our FoA newsletter. As always please send Dianne, Terry Dougherty, our ever vigilant Webmaster or me any information, updates and/or personal anecdotes about Afghanistan that could help serve the good of the order and keep us better connected to events in our former host country.

This is also a great time to send us any updates about RPCVs or other FoAs who are not official members of our organization and bring them into the fold. Please send any leads regarding new members to Jessie at the email address below. Your active participation and regular communication will help us determine how we can best serve your interests and will assist us in tailoring our communication to meet the information needs of the FoA membership. Send your ideas and suggestions to us at the following email addresses:
Afghan Connections, Dianne at:;
Membership, Jessie at:;
Website, Terry at:;
Treasury, Dennis "Bones" Hamilton at:
For general information contact our FoA advisor Emeritus, Dennis Aronson at:; or me at: tony@afghanconnections.orgFor us, the 'Third Goal of Peace Corps" is: To help Americans learn about Afghanistan in a way that promotes understanding of the culture and the people of this ancient land. Please do what you can to help us promote this important goal.

Peace, Tony Agnello

President, Friends of Afghanistan
Director, Schools and Futures, Inc.
Advisor, Western New York
Sister School Coalition
Peace Corps, Afghanistan 1972-75

Thursday, November 23, 2006

New - 16 Days in Afghanistan by M. Anwar Hajer

Anwar's film project is nearly complete. Visit the official website for up-to-date status.

Anwar says the film will be available this year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

To: Returned Peace Corps Volunteers—Afghanistan

From: David Carroll and Joanne Martindale Allen, co-chair

Group XIV & Friends Peace Corps Afghanistan

9-11 NOVEMBER 2007


We are pleased to invite you and your spouse or significant other to a reunion of Peace Corps volunteers and staff who served in Afghanistan. The reunion is sponsored by members of Group XIV, who arrived in 1968, but is open to all PC volunteers and staff who served in Afghanistan:

DATES: Friday, November 9–Sunday, November 11, 2007

LOCATION: Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA



The schedule and program are not yet final but will closely resemble those of our first, very successful reunion in Alexandria VA in November 2004 (see

Afghan Connections - September 2006

Visit the Friends of Afghanistan web site, to get your copy of Afghan Connections!

Mohammad Hajher (Anwar): “My Visit to Afghanistan"

Friday, November 17, 2006

"A Land Without Time" A Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan

A Perfect Holiday Gift

Dear Returning Peace Corps Volunteer,

Here's a book for anyone who's been in the Peace Corps, is thinking about joining the Peace Corps, has a friend or family member on active duty, or is curious about Afghanistan. Add it to your holiday shopping list – "A Land Without Time: A Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan," John Sumser.

"No other book about Afghanistan offers such a humane, sometimes humorous, and significant insight into a culture on the verge of single-handedly launching a new age of terrorism." -- Publisher, Academy Chicago Publishers

"Sumser offers a harrowing glimpse of a time and place now obliterated in the cruelty of history. Written with passion and promise, A LAND WITHOUT TIME asks us to rehumanize Afghanistan, to restore it to dignity, even if only in memory; to recall a time when young Americans came as peace makers, bearing not swords, but plowshares."

---Donna Gaines, author of Teenage Wasteland and A Misfit's Manifesto


for a review by fellow returning peace corps volunteer, Tony Zurlo.

Visit for more information about the author and book.

To schedule the author for an interview or speaking engagement, please contact Claire Wynn at

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Come Back to Afghanistan: A California Teenager's Story

Has anyone read this book? Let me know what you think of it.
Terry Dougherty

Young Afghan-American Visits His Damaged Roots
By Gary Thomas Washington 22 February 2006 VOA
Since the ouster of the Taleban from Afghanistan, Afghan expatriates in the United States and Europe have been returning to their homeland. Some of them stay, looking for business opportunities, while others decide to move on. VOA correspondent Gary Thomas talked to one young Afghan-American who went home, and found a reality far different than his dreams.

It is a long, strange trip from California to Kabul. But, even at the age of 17, it was one that one young Afghan-American named Said Hyder Akbar was compelled to make.

"I felt really guilty for having the kind of life that I had, for managing to escape and to get an education," Mr. Akbar says. "And that also kind of drove me to go back to the country because I had this deep passion for it, but had never been there. And I felt like to sort of validate or to sort of back up my interest in Afghanistan with action, I would have to visit there and spend time there."

Now 20 and a student at Yale University, Akbar has penned a memoir of his visits to Afghanistan after the 2001 fall of the Taleban. The book's title conveys his dual heritage. Called Come Back to Afghanistan: A California Teenager's Story, it spins out a tale of adventure and sorrow.

Akbar was not even born when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. His parents fled to neighboring Pakistan, where he was born, and later made their way to the United States, ending up in California. There he grew up as a typical American teenager.

But, as in many expatriate families, Akbar grew up with an intense interest in a homeland he had never seen, but had heard of in stories of Afghanistan's former glory spun by relatives and other Afghan expatriates.

"Afghanistan was definitely painted in my mind, and it gave me images of this place of orchards and gardens and mountains and the beautiful, peaceful countryside," Mr. Akbar says. "I would have these kind of pristine images when I would think of Afghanistan."

His father, Fazel Akbar, was deeply involved in the anti-Soviet resistance from abroad, and was close to key figures in the resistance. So when Fazel Akbar was called to Kabul in 2002 to become President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, and then governor of Kunar province, Hyder Akbar felt he had to go along to offer Americans a different perspective of Afghanistan.

"There was interest in Afghanistan, but I felt like most journalists were reporting on Afghanistan, but not really looking at it in a nuanced way and not really looking at it from all sides," he says. "So I kind of wanted to offer a perspective that sort of looked deeper into Afghanistan and gave explanation to things people here that most people would not understand, and sort of looking at things through more that just the war on terror or post 9/11."

But the destruction, corruption, and political intrigue startled him, and it was a far cry from the idyllic images of his youth.

"It is incredible to go through it and look at it and breathe it. It looked like, for me, a giant wrecking ball had sort of come over the whole country from one end to the other and just broke everything," Mr. Akbar says.

Akbar went for summer of 2002 and two more, filing dispatches for National Public Radio that formed the basis of his book. He saw up close the political machinations. Another family friend, Haji Qadir, was assassinated while he was there.

If there is anything Akbar wants people to know about Afghanistan, he says it is that it is not yet quite the success story proclaimed in some quarters. He says it is still a fragile state that could collapse under the weight of narcotics production and insurgency.

"I see insurgency, I see opium, as being the two main problems facing Afghanistan right now," Mr. Akbar says. "And it is deeply worrisome for me because I do not know how much longer the situation can be in the balance like this."

Fazel Akbar had to leave Afghanistan to return to the United States for heart surgery. But his son plans to go back. For all of his California upbringing, Said Hyder Akbar remains the child of a homeland it took him 17 years to find.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Afghan Connections from Friends of Afghanistan

Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 11:26:38 -0500
Dear All Salaam,
I am pleased to invite you to look at the Afghan Connections newsletter through the link provid below. I have two ideas that I would like to discuss with members of the Clarence Sister City Committee. I hope that some of you will be able to continue addressing the worthy decision that you made following; the attacks of September 11, 2001 that has done so much for Afghan; children in your sister city. The decline of Afghanistan and its capture by the Taliban took a generation to occur. I sincerely believe that the solution will take just as long and require a; continuing effort on the part of the US and the West:

First, can one of your members write up an article to be published in Afghan Connections? (See web address below.) Your school construction project in Pul e Khumri is a special expression of American concern for reasonable dialogue with Islamic nations. Afghan Connections wants to feature community groups and individuals who have made a tangible difference in the lives of Afghan children and in so doing have made a significant contribution to the nation of Afghanistan as it struggles against powerful forces of international extremism, to build a civil society for its people.

Second, please consider using your talents, energies and community networks to find a family in Clarence willing to host an Afghan student next year, as a part of the US Department of State's pioneer exchange program with Afghanistan. My partner in Kabul, Ted Achilles
> is the Afghanistan Country Director for this program. I sincerely believe that if we get an early enough request from a Clarence family and confirmation from the schools, we could find a boy or girl from your Sister City to live with you in your community for a whole school year. You have been special in what you have done for Afghanistan so far.

If your community does nothing else for Afghanistan you would have left a legacy greater than 99% of America. I sincerely believe that hosting a student from your sister city would be news of national interest. Please rsvp with ideas or to contribute an article for publication. Thanks in advance for any attention to the above requests.

As a predeparture alert, I plan to return to Afghanistan this summer to support a project that will transform an elementary school into a middle school in Wardak province. Shirin Ebadi the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate mad a large contribution to this project. I'll keep you updated.

Sincerely, Tony Agnello

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 12:00:27 -0800
Afghan Connections from Friends of Afghanistan

Dear All,

Tony Agnello, President of Friends of Afghanistan, has asked me to forward copies of the latest Afghan Connections to each of you. Please let me know if it doesn't come through and I'll make sure you get a copy some other way.

Anyone who wants access to Afghan Connections online can get to it on our web page

The link to AC is at the top of the page. Enter the ID and Password when prompted.

If you are a member of Freinds of Afghanistan, contact us at: to obtain the password.

Jessie Schilling
Membership, FOA

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Fw: Clotilde Query and Recontact for Summer Project Info.

Hi Clotilde,

I'll be sending you a copy of a message that I am finishing up to send to the Coalition encouraging them to stay the course and giving them huge props for work already accomplished.

As the US ponders its role in Afghanistan and considers a force reduction for very pragmatic reasons, we (folks like you, Khris and I) have to redouble our work to keep the issue fresh in the minds of the American people. It would be foolish to think that if we abandoned Afghanistan again, like we did after the defeat of the Russians, that the outcome today would be different than the downward spiral that led to the Taliban and the extreme repression suffered by Afghan women and minorities.

Keep me in your quality circle. I'm working on a list of Afghanophiles that I will share with you. Also, FYI
OP Outreach just won a $1,000.00 communication grant. We plan to contact politicians, celebrities and all of the schools in NY State plus selected schools in North America and Europe. Any other suggestions?

Keep up the good work,


Khris Jaan Salaam,

We have to reconnect regarding the needs of the Wonkhai Valley project. Exactly what has to be done to transform the elementary school into a middle school. And I shudder to ask; what do you project the cost per room to be? I plan to visit Afghanistan this summer and your Wardak program will be one of my top priorities. I hope to work through the University of Nebraska @ Omaha to oversee implementation of my students projects.

After the elem/MS project we intend to refocus on your Wardak girls' school and rejoin the effort of Clotilde's Coalition in Buffalo. Speaking of which, I just got an email from Clotilde regarding establishing an organization at Harvard to address women's issues. She ask me what organization awarded your project the "Most Proficient NGO in Afghanistan" title a few years ago. Drop her a line at her new school address,

(Let's chat soon. Did you get a copy of the Afghan Connections newsletter? Let me know and I'll make sure that you're on the list.
Peace, Tony

WNY Girls' School Coalition Meeting Update

I want to commend you and your member schools in the WNY Girls' School Coalition for your continued support of educational equity projects in Afghanistan. Character can be defined as persevering in a worthy cause after the emotion that caused you to act has faded. The events of September 11, 2001 seem like a long time ago. In the aftermath of the attacks, thousands of American students and schools offered a sincere effort to help provide opportunity for the millions of disenfranchised Afghan children. When in the course of time, new needs arose; they abandoned their once strongly held dedication to Afghan students and moved on to other worthwhile efforts.
You have been different. You have stayed the course. You have persevered in your especially worthy decision long after other organizations have moved on. You have maintained a single-minded focus and have kept you eyes on a special prize. And you have made a difference in the lives of thousands of Afghan girls who otherwise would have been deprived of educational opportunity.
OP Educational Outreach wants to share our good foutrue with you, our closest allies in the continuing struggle to provide educational and civil equity for Afghan women and children. To this end we have the following opportunities to share:
  • We won a $1,000.00 communication grant, and we would like your suggestions regarding individuals and organizations to contact which may be interested in copying the WNY action model.
  • There are five Afghan exchange students including two girls who are willing to speak at your schools or at an organizational meeting.
  • You are eligible to host an Afghan girl next year if you and your school meet some simple criteria. Please spread the word.
  • We plan to fund a transformation project building a middle school from an elementary school this summer in Wardak Province on the same educational campus where you will build your next school.
  • Following this project we plan to join your effort through "Kids 4 Afghan Kids" and help you build a girls' high school on the Wardak campus. This will be easier to coordinate and fund as we recruit more allies into the "Kids 4 Afghan Kids" program.
Together we have done some very special thing in our regional coalition to provide opportunity for Afghan girls. Please review the above possibilities and see if your school or the Coalition is interested in more information.
For all that you have done, I am most sincerely yours,
Tony Agnello
President, Friends of Afghanistan
Director, Schools and Futures, Inc.
Advisor, Western New York
Sister School Coalition
Peace Corps, Afghanistan 1972-75

-----Original Message-----
From: Veronica Couzo

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 14:31:20 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Meeting Update

Hey ladies, Happy Valentine's Day! I am sorry I havent replied to any of your emails.. my computer has been down for a little bit. I just wanted to let you know that our next meeting is the 21st of february at Sem... unless someone would like it at their school. I also wanted to give you a heads up that I think we are going to limit our fundraising to some more jeans days if possible and to chocolate selling for Easter. I will let explain my reasons for this at the meeting but if you have any problems with this or any suggestions/ ideas please feel free to let me know.