Friday, September 26, 2008

Afghan Connections: Memorial Edition

Afghan Connections

Memorial Edition


It is my sad task, as I deliver this first edition of our new electronic newsletter, to inform you of the passing of our good friend and FoA Treasurer, Dennis (Bones) Hamilton. It seems to me somehow fitting that the vehicle bringing this news to you is a new, high tech communication. Bones never shied away from the latest tools to further his passions. I know that he would approve of Afghan Connections delivering this news to his Peace Corps friends in the quickest, cheapest way possible. He always worked to conserve financial resources so they could be put to use for the common good. This communicaton is dedicated to remembering Dennis's life of service to us and others.

The following information is provided by Dennis's good friend and collaborator in the Amman Imman: Water is Life project, Julie Snorek. As Associate Director and mentor to the founder, Ariane Kirtley, Dennis litteraly poured his heart out into this project. I know that it would please him, if you felt inclined to donate to this worthy cause as a memorial to him.

To the memory of Dennis (Bones) Hamilton, PBUH "Peace Be Upon Him"

The Dua for the departed has been said for centuries in Afghanistan. Let's offer it to our community of Peace Corps brothers and sisters in remembrance of our brother Dennis "Bones" Hamilton and in honor of the halcyon days that we shared with him (before, during or after) in the land of the great adventure of our youth. Inna lillahi wa Inna Ilahi Rajion. "May the lord grant him paradise, and offer comfort those who loved him.

From: the Executive Committee of Friends of Afghanistan

Dennis (Bones) Hamilton 1942 -2008

Dennis Raymond Hamilton 1942 - 2008

September 20, 2008

Poem for Dennis

Your Flowing Heart

dedicated to Dennis Hamilton, 1942-2008

Those who know you were not surprised

that your heart ruptured and overflowed.

We felt it flow all over us whenever we were with you.

We saw it well up on your face when you spoke,

trickle down your sleeve when you held out your hand,

and drip onto your shoulder when you rocked a baby.

Your heart seeped through your smile,

leaked into your compliments,

and soaked through your hugs.

You wrote letters about why you stand for peace

and we read your heart.

You told stories about people

who have no water,

and it was your heart

that moved other hearts to give.

You set up photo exhibits

that displayed generosity and love

residing where little else lives,

but it was your heart that

showed us generosity and love.

You even got a preacher from Texas

to invite you to his family home,

and dedicate his website to the thirsty,

only your heart, your heart.

That your heart flowed all over is no surprise,

not to friends who bathed in your love,

drenched in your generosity

and oozed in your care.

Your heart was like a boat on a river,

a vessel of safety and care

for your dear friend.

It was no surprise that

all that was in your heart

burst out.

It always did

Poem posted by Debbie on the Amman Imman Montessori blog

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Dam It /News from Trust In Education

Trust In Education Newsletter


Pictured below is a dam project currently under construction in Lalander.
In the Spring, the dam will prevent the snow run off from flooding land farmed by over 50 families. TIE was asked to pay the cost of rebar, concrete, wire and a "technician", who was paid $300 to supervise construction. The word from the site is that they "won't need a technician next time:"
This was a perfect project to fund. It was their project, they did the work, they learned new skills, the number of families impacted was larg
e, and it cost $1424, less than $30 per family. This project was funded as part of a larger grant provided by the Los Altos rotary club. Thank you Los Altos Rotarians!
I learned very quickly that the best way to determine what villagers need is to ask them. At first they were surprised we asked. Now they listen carefully for the magic words, "put it on the wish list." Making it to the "wish list" is one step away from funding.
In developing the "wish list" we and they engage in a complicated cost/benefit/prioritization budgetary process that strives to allocate resources fairly. There are three buzz words used in evaluating humanitarian aid pro
grams- transparency, accountability and verifiability. The easiest way to achieve all three is to include the villagers in the process. It's also an excellent way to raise our approval rating.
We believe strongly in the bottom up approach to economic development. Top down, trickle down dollars often don't make it to the bottom and incur substantial overhead costs while working their way down. Whoever is engaged in the war for hearts and minds would be well advised to apply more resources to the bottom rungs of the ladder. That's where the overwhelming majority of hearts and minds live.
I share what I've learned, only becau
se readers are interested in more than factual reports. Besides, someday one of you may be President. Why not? The upcoming election is proof positive that the road to the Whitehouse is wide open.

Matt Van Etten, a TIE volunteer, wades in to lend a hand or perhaps supervise. You be the judge.

Enjoy tonight's debates and the weekend


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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

University of Nebraska at Omaha: Conference on Afghanistan Development

Global Studies Conference:
Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East

31st Annual

2-4 October 2008

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska

Conference on Afghanistan Development

Where do we go from here? Past failures and political missteps are not nearly as interesting as problem solutions and new approaches that might offer better chances of success to the essential rebuilding and reconstruction of Afghanistan . Do you have any ideas, data, opinions, or mission directives that might contribute solutions? If you want to help in any way, or if you want to meet and mingle with any of those people who are actively involved with the reconstruction of Afghanistan , please consider attending this conference. We are expecting The Honorable Ambassador Jawad from Afghanistan, as well as a full contingent of Afghanistan cognoscenti from academia, the governments, the military, the United Nations, and others with interests in the progress of redevelopment and reconstruction of Afghanistan. If sufficient high-quality papers are presented, a book of conference papers may be possible.

A small amount of grant money to host this conference will enable full or partial financial support to attend and present papers. To apply, please email name, address, and abstract of proposed paper as soon as possible, and in any case by 15 September, 2008. For more information, please contact Professor Jack Shroder (


The conference plan looks like this right now, although the Friday and Saturday schedules may be reversed or combined (papers followed by panel and audience discussions).

It will be a Conference Within a Conference: The plan will be to have Afghanistan featured within our annual Global Studies Conference.

On Thursday 02 October for the Omaha World Affairs Council evening dinner, the Honorable Ambassador Jawad from Afghanistan to the U.S.A. will be giving a speech.

On Friday 03 October there will a round table discussion on Afghanistan, with special foci on solutions to the resurgent Taliban, the ‘narco-state’ and corruption, the loss of optimism in the future, and the best means to recover from these blows.

Afghanistan Reconstruction: The Future will take place on Saturday 04 October with two AM and two PM panel sessions. Below is a list of the panel sessions we have planned.
  • AM Panel 1 Afghanistan Earth Sciences and Natural Resources
  • AM Panel 2 Reconstruction and Provincial Reconstruction Teams
  • PM Panel 1 Community-Based Reconstruction
  • PM Panel 2 Looking to the Future

Please send ideas for topics that you would like to present or discuss.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fwd: AC and FoA Miscellany

From: Tony Agnello
Date: Sat, Sep 20, 2008 at 2:03 PM
Subject: AC and FoA Miscellany


I recently returned from Toronto where I met with about twenty former Afghan exchange students who are now studying in Canada. One of my past students, Ghufran Tarin from Mazar e Sharif coordinated the reunion of the Afghan students at the request of Ted Achilles, who recently left his post as Country Director or the US Department of State's official student exchange program with Afghanistan, to start up a new NGO in Kabul. Ted's organization SOLA, pronounced like the Dari word for Peace, is focusing on providing post exchange educational opportunities for the YES students selected by the program.
With Ted Achilles stationed in Kabul along with Jim Emery who was introduced to us by Randy Biggers and with Yaseer's cooperation via the University of Nebraska at Omaha's ongoing presence in Kabul we are uniquely positioned to continue our Starfish Initiatives that will directly assist Afghan women, children, families and small communities. We have conceptual agreements to fund Cedric & Norma's Afghan urology project, buy a sewing machine for a woman in Kabul and modestly assist a family enabling a brilliant Afghan girl to accept a four year scholarship to an American Universit y. We have a number of other projects, including sponsoring a reforestation program, proposed and awaiting action by the FoA Executive Committee. We will keep you posted regarding our actions in country. Please do the same and send us any newsworthy information hat can help our efforts in Afghanistan and promote the Peace Corps' Third Goal at home.

Terry Dougherty

Vaccinators Documentary

Jill Vickers has produced a new movie about the Afghan Group 15 vaccinators. It was shown to the volunteers at the Fort Collins reunion in August, and will premiere officially on October 16 at Castleton State College, Castleton, VT, at 3:30 and 7:00.

70 minutes


"We walked in on weddings, on funerals - whatever was going on - and vaccinated everyone." Group 15 volunteers were members of Afghan male smallpox vaccinator teams in 1969 and 1970. The women's stories with their photographs bring that time of relative peace and prosperity to life. Travel with them to remote areas meeting incredible hospitality as well as open resistance to the vaccination program. The movie takes you behind the high compound walls to a place where people of completely different backgrounds could recognize one another in spite of their differences. In a world in which messages of hate travel faster than ever before, this is a message of understanding.

For further information:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tolo TV, Afghanistan's most widely viewed television station. We would like for one of the first shows of the series to feature former PCVs

Ilana Weinberg
Associate Producer
America Abroad Media

I am working on a groundbreaking new series that will be produced by America Abroad Media from Washington for Tolo TV, Afghanistan's most widely viewed television station. We would like for one of the first shows of the series to feature former Peace Corps volunteers who worked in Afghanistan in the 60s and 70s, and see how some of the volunteers are still currently involved with Afghanistan. The goal of this program will be to look at US involvement in Afghanistan in a more prosperous era, compare and contrast the relationship with the US and Afghan culture, and see what has changed today.

I was hoping to learn a bit more about each of you and see if anyone would be interested in participating in the program on September 24 or 25 in our studio in downtown Washington DC? For those who might be interested, if you wouldn't mind answering a few questions below:

.When did you first go to Afghanistan?
.When did you work for the Peace Corp in Afghanistan?
.What did you do there?
.What parts of the country did you visit?
.How long were you there?
.What were your impressions of the country? Of the people?
.Have you been back to visit since 9/11?

Below is some more information about the show, America Abroad Media, and Tolo TV. I would be happy answer any further questions, and look forward to hearing back from you about your availability!

Best regards,

Ilana Weinberg

Associate Producer
America Abroad Media

More about the program:

We'll be producing approximately 26 half hour episodes in the United States on issues important to the Afghan people. The show will be hosted by Mariam A. Nawabi, a prominent Afghan-American activist, attorney, and social entrepreneur. She will be interviewing a variety of leaders, experts, writers, artists, performers and entrepreneurs, including prominent members of the U.S. foreign policy community. The show will focus on issues related to policy, education, music, the arts, health, agriculture and business. It will serve to bridge the U.S. and Afghanistan through media.

America Abroad Media, (AAM), is a non-profit, non-partisan DC based organization producing a variety of radio and television programming on key international issues. On radio, AAM's monthly program is distributed internationally by NPR Worldwide and heard on 225 public radio stations in the United States. On television, AAM's international partners include CNN Turk, Metro TV Indonesia, Geo TV Pakistan, and Tolo TV. AAM also sponsors a fellowship program providing training and reporting opportunities for visiting foreign journalists. (

Tolo TV is Afghanistan's largest television network, producing cultural, educational and informational programming viewed by millions of Afghans. It is part of the Moby Group headed by Saad Mohseni, often referred to as "the Rupert Murdoch of Afghanistan". Moby's media outlets reach about eight million Afghans daily, or 60% of the total media audience in the country. Tolo is now transmitted worldwide, making it possible for Afghans and Afghan-Americans to view its programming. At a recent National Press Club gathering, Saad Mohseni stressed the importance of freedom of speech, expression, and the rights of journalists and an independent media in Afghanistan during these challenging times.
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