Saturday, May 30, 2009

Youth Exchange and Study - YES Afghanistan

This exchange student program has placed Afghan high school students in the USA every year since 2004. I was asked to accompany the first class of students on their return to Kabul in the summer of 2005. That trip also served as my introduction to Ted Achilles, then the director of the Kabul office of American Councils for International Education.

for a description of this program. This program was started after the American forces got control of Afghanistan in 2002 as an extension of other central Asian exchange programs managed by Randy Biggers, RPCV Afghanistan and Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State.

2004-2005 was the first year of the program. That year one of the 40 students did not return to Afghanistan because she received a letter from home that her life would be in danger if she returned to Afghanistan. While I was in Kabul, an officer from the US Embassy asked me to accompany him as he visited her former home in Micreon.  That student has since gained permanent residency in the United States and is attending college.

In each succeeding year of the YES Afghanistan program, more students left the program - most of them finding their way to Canada where they are still living. The Canadian government grants them asylum at the border and the US government puts them on a "do not return" list because they have broken the terms of their J1 Visa. 

Check the link below for a recent Fort Wayne, Indiana  newspaper article about the YES Afghanistan program:

Not my choice of headlines - but an honest interview...

He had to save YES | The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind
•If you are interested in hosting an Afghan student, call Terry Dougherty at 639-7379 or e-mail

Here are some pictures from my trip to Kabul in the summer of 2005

Thursday, May 28, 2009

MorePeaceCorps: Not a Moment to Waste!

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MorePeaceCorps - Newletter #16

Not a Moment to Waste: Foreign Operations Appropriations Mark-Up Thursday, June 11

Last week, we took a big first step towards a bold new Peace Corps.  Congressman Howard Berman, showing tremendous political courage, tossed out the Administration's request for a 10% increase ($34 million) for the Peace Corps and substituted a 35% increase ($120 million) for 2010.  This is the authorization level in Congressman Sam Farr's (Colombia 64-66) Bill which now has 120 co-sponsors.  Our strategy is working. 

If your representative is not a co-sponsor of Mr. Farr's Bill, please go to our website and use our sample letter to contact your representative to sign on as a co-sponsor.  Every new House co-sponsor is a signal of growing support. 

Now comes the hard part: winning the appropriations struggle.  On Thursday, June 11, the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up its budget for 2010.  The appropriations subcommittee, true to its name, decides on the amount of money in the bill.  This subcommittee is chaired by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY-18) and without her support we will struggle to keep the $450 million appropriation recommended by the House Foreign Relations Committee.   If you are a constituent of Chairwoman Lowey's, please take action.

In the past, it is in the Appropriations Committee where recommendations for increased funding are whittled down.  This is where authorization bills, such as Mr. Farr's get taken out, and lower amounts of money are substituted.  However, this year is different.  First, Mr. Berman is a senior member and his endorsement of Mr. Farr's request is powerful.  Second, in the past, there has been no way to mobilize the grassroots base of RPCVs.   Now we have thousands of supporters around the nation who care about this issue and are educated on the process.  We have two weeks before the vote.   If you are a constituent of any of these 14 members of Congress that sit on the subcommittee, please try to visit them in their district office or at least call and urge your representative to become a co-sponsor.  Here is a copy of the sample letter to use with the 14 House subcommittee appropriators:

Dear Representative    ,

I am writing to you from ______ to request you, in your role as a member of the Foreign Operations appropriations subcommittee, to support $450 million in the FY 2010 budget for the Peace Corps.  A bill introduced by Congressman Sam Farr (Colombia 64-66), the Peace Corps Expansion Act 2009 also authorizes this funding increase and now has 120 co-sponsors.  Moreover, the Foreign Affairs Committee led by Representative Howard Berman recently authorized this robust increase in HR 2410.  We need your leadership in providing major resources to build a bold new Peace Corps for a new century at a time when 25 countries including Indonesia and Sierra Leone have made requests for new Peace Corps programs.  

Peace Corps currently enters into service 3,600 volunteers per year, making it half the size it was in 1966. It is a valuable but small entity compared to President Kennedy's original vision of 100,000 Americans serving in the huts and villages of the world.  Peace Corps can rejuvenate itself by entering boldly into countries where person-to person contact is important in our own hemisphere; Colombia, Venezuela, Haiti and Bolivia. There are also many opportunities for Americans to volunteer to serve in communities where the Islamic faith pre-dominates.  Examples include, expanding the Morocco program; newly enter Libya, Algeria, Lebanon and Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the non-conflicted parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan even India.  All of these would bring a new face of America to young people in the Islamic world and America would gain new understanding of areas and communities critical to the United States and world peace.

The Peace Corps had a profound impact on my life and US community.  I served in _______________.

I hope you share my view that the Peace Corps is a vital component of our public diplomacy toolbox.  Since 1961, nearly 200,000 Peace Corps volunteers have provided meaningful, small-scale development assistance, reversing stereotypes about Americans and returning stateside to enrich communities domestically with new language and other skills.  Peace Corps continues to be one of America's finest expressions of friendship and solidarity across the globe.

The Obama-Biden Administration is working diligently to reinvigorate our foreign policy and burnish America's image. To do this, we must maximize every element of soft power. Investing in Peace Corps in the manner outlined in HR 1066 and the White House transition report would help to reestablish our credibility and moral standing abroad, while exposing people to the core American values of peace, progress, tolerance and prosperity.  To meet the President's stated goal of 16,000 volunteers in the Peace Corps we need your leadership at the June 11 mark-up of the Foreign Operations Bill.

I appreciate the support you have provided to the Peace Corps in the past and welcome your full support in the subcommittee this year.



The All-Important House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Nita M. Lowey (NY) (Chair)
Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (IL)
Adam Schiff (CA)
Steve Israel (NY)
Ben Chandler (KY)
Steven R. Rothman (NJ)
Barbara Lee (CA)
Betty McCollum (MN)
David R. Obey (WI), Ex Officio

Kay Granger (TX) (Ranking Member)
Mark Steven Kirk (IL)
Ander Crenshaw (FL)
Dennis R. Rehberg (MT)
Jerry Lewis (CA), Ex Officio

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MorePeaceCorps Campaign. Copyright © 2008. National Peace Corps Association (NPCA).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Afghan Women's Writing Project updates

see for the complete blog

One of My Worst Memories

Posted: 26 May 2009 05:27 PM PDT

It was a nice summer day, during the Taliban regime, my mother wanted to go to bazaar. I was too much bored at home. I asked my mother, "Would you please let me go with you?"

She replied, "Umm, well … it's better to stay home. I will bring you whatever you need."

"Please mom, I am very bored at home …" I said, and she accepted.

We were going to buy some materials for our kitchen and some clothes for my elder sister, who always preferred to stay home rather than going outside and buying clothes of her own choice. She hated wearing a bukra. I was very happy. Finally it was my turn to go for shopping with my mom. No matter what my mom wanted to buy, I loved to be with her while she wanted to go outside. At that time I was around twelve-year-old. I was not wearing a bukra, though my height was tall enough.

We take a bus and went to "froshga." It's the main or the center bazaar of Kabul. I was out shopping after very long time. I was looking around surprisingly. Every piece of clothing was looking nice to me. I was looking for something good for my sister. It was really enjoyable!

Suddenly we saw a big crowd of people, running away. My mother grabbed my hand and told me hurry up go fast. I was shocked. I asked my mother, "Mom, why all of the people are running?"

With a loud voice she replied, "Didn't I tell you don't come. Now, be fast–"

We start running away too. Then I saw the Taliban's car! Their car was moving slowly two of them jumped out of car and start beating a girl. She was around my age. They were beating her in foot and head, because she didn't have a bukra. I had heard of, but had not seen such as event before. I started crying. I was not able to run. My mother hid me in her bukra. She was afraid too.

Finally their car passed. They didn't beat us, but we completely lost our selves. She told me, let's sit somewhere. I cannot walk any more. I feel my feet are not mine.

Our clothes, our shoes were totally dirty. We didn't know how that happened. We didn't buy anything. We took a taxi to go back home. On the way, I was just thinking about that girl… she was running while they were beating her. Another woman was with her, she was trying to hug the girl, she was saying "Don't beat her, don't beat her." The girl's hands were on her head. She was trying to secure her head. She was crying. It was very terrible; no one was helping her except the woman who was with her.

It was around 1:00 PM that we arrived home. My sister opened the door with a smile on her face.

She said, "Salam, mother Jan, welcome, lunch is ready. I was waiting for you to come –!" Both of us were quiet. We didn't reply. She looked at us surprised. "Mother Jan, what happened? Why your clothes are dirty? Didn't you buy anything? Did someone steal your money?" I started crying and told her the whole story–she was laughing at me while I was crying! She told me, what do you think, am I a fool that I am staying home? In my heart I thought no, you are not; you are a mature girl who understands it's better to stay home rather than going outside.

After that I promised that I wouldn't go outside without having a bukra, but having a bukra is awful. You cannot breathe under that.

This was one of the thousand memories that I have from the Taliban regime. It reminds me of those awful days again! Those days went away, but their footprint will stay in our hearts forever.

By Zarlasht


Posted: 26 May 2009 12:06 PM PDT

A heroine is officially defined as a woman who is endowed with great courage and strength in the fight for her country. We always look for heroines in our history books while forgetting to look for them around us. A heroine is not just someone with a sword in a battle or a political leader leading a revolution, but is anyone who sacrifices her life for the service of others. We meet many heroines in our everyday life serving their society as doctors, engineers, police officers and, to be sure, even the teacher who is willing to leave all else behind to teach. One of these heroines is Maryam, an elementary teacher at Zarghuna high school, one of the best schools in my country, who chose to continue nurturing little minds at the expense of everything.

Maryam entered the big, blue and red striped main gate of the school. There was a group of watchmen and police officers standing on each side of the gate for security reasons. As she entered, she looked up and saw the big, two story reddish building with the paint coming off. She looked at the windows of the building and saw a few students. " I must be at least 30 minutes early," she said to herself. But she did not know exactly why she was early. She could not sleep last night. She had wanted so badly to come to the school. She was missing the school. Yes, that is what she was feeling. Everyday a group of ten students with two teachers were responsible for the security check of the school. They would look for poisoned water, matches, gas, guns and love letters. But today, it was still too early for them to be there. On her left there was a big, green tree. Under the tree was a table and the attendance clerk was sitting there, having the attendance sheet open and ready for the teachers to sign in. "Salam Alikum Maryam Jaan, you have come so early, is all okay?" asked the clerk, knitting her brows together.

"Sure, all is fine. I just had to finish some work in the office," she said, looking around. Her eyes caught a glimpse of the big board close to the tree that had the picture of Ms. Zaaher, an Afghan-American who financially supported the school in the construction of new buildings, with two other girls in their black and white uniforms. Three of them looked as serious as if they were about to go to war. Their backs were straight and their eyebrows up. There was also a statement, "We will make you, Afghanistan, with a pen." She had read that statement before, but it had never had the same kind of influence before. She looked down at the earth. She felt like a traitor. Maryam moved on, going towards the main building. On her left there was a small garden. Although the whole school was kind of green, this garden was particularly very beautiful. On this side of the garden there was three tents that had written on then the word UNISEF. These were classrooms for sixth and seventh graders. "The kids will get sick sitting in the sun all day," she thought, "but in a few months, the new building that Ms. Zaaher is paying for should be ready". The thought brought a few drops of tears to her eyes for she knew that she would not be here till the summer.

She kept walking, keeping her head down until she arrived at the place where all the students would gather in the morning. A group of students would sing the national anthem and one student would read a part of the holy Quran. Maryam never did any. She recalled a memory from when she was in twelfth grade. She was standing in the second line with her best friend Naima. Naima got married just after school and settled down somewhere abroad. One day while the students were singing the national anthem, she turned her face to Naima and said in her ear, "You know what Naima, when they read us holy Quran and the national anthem everyday before going to class, I feel like we are going to a battlefield". Naima laughed out loud and they both had to see the principle after the class, a man whom the whole school referred to as "the old ghost".

While crossing in front of the principal's office, she walked slowly, trying not to make a noise. She remembered three years ago when she was first appointed as a 2nd grade teacher .She was standing in front of a principal named Alia Jaan, a widow in her early sixties. It was a big office and all the walls were colored yellow. There were two desks, one at the right corner near the window where the principal would sit and the other on the far left corner where her assistant would sit. While the principal was talking, Maryam was looking at her and nodding, but she was not listening. She was too busy thinking about her students, what to teach them and what they might call her. At the time of her appointment to the school, she was twenty-five years old with no college degree because of the Taliban gap in women's education. She felt proud of herself for having gone back to college and thanked God for giving her the father He did. But she would not be able to continue either her education or her work after marriage. Shabir and his family would never allow their daughter-in-law to work.

Shabir was one of her relatives. He was in the family business and was relatively rich for Afghanistan. Every one was surprised when two weeks ago Shabir's family asked for her hand for their youngest son. One of the first things Shabir's mother said was, "Child, let me make something clear. I know you are currently working in some kind of school, but in our families women do not work. Our men are able to take care of them." Maryam's mother immediately said, "Of course, Bibi Shirin Jaan, a woman needs to adjust to her in-law's rules. Since your family is Masha Allah and is well off, Maryam has no need nor desire to work." Maryam looked up but did not say anything despite wanting to say that a woman is not only in need of food, accommodation and clothing but also in need of an identity in her society. She has a desire to help and to achieve. It was obvious that all the family members were very happy for the marriage proposal. She as a "perfect" Afghan woman who was supposed to go along with the happiness of her family. But somehow it did not feel right. " I should be happy, I will marry one of the richest people among my relatives, but why am I not?" she asked. "God, am I stupid or what?"

All of a sudden, she remembered that it was class time and she had better hurry up. She went down the stairs to the class. The class was on the right hand of the hall. It had a wooden, blue door. The walls were colored white. There was a big black board attached to the front wall. As she opened the door, Sana, who was wearing her black and white uniform called loudly, "Stand up." All the students stood and Maryam asked them to "Sit down please." She asked the girls to put their hands on the table so she could check for nail polish, which was banned for students of all ages. She went around the class checking. "Sailai, you are wearing nail polish again," she said.

" I am sorry teacher Jaan, I forgot to clean it. It was my sister's wedding yesterday," she said, rolling her eyes and looking around.

" I thought you were the eldest of your siblings Sailai," said Maryam.

" That is true but God Jaan gave my sister a month ago and my mother forgot to tell you."

" And the baby is getting married at age 10 months! Stop lying, Sailai".

"Sorry, Teacher Jaan!"

Maryam was mad at her and at the same time wanted to hug her. Sailai looked so cute with her scarf tight around her fat face, and with her round, black eyes. Maryam looked at her, but no harsh words came from her mouth. She had never loved anyone as she did these little students. Maryam went to the front of the class. She wrote some fractions on the black board and asked who wanted to do them. The students raised their hands and Maryam asked Sana to come and do the first one. Sana was always on time, did her homework, controlled the class and never complained. She was just a perfect student. Sometimes, Maryam thought, "Poor kid, she will miss being a kid sometime." As always, Sana got her answer right.

While the students were working on their class work, except for Sailai who was playing with a ball, Maryam looked at the roof. There was nothing new about the roof, but she could not take her eyes off it. She thought about her mother. She was a great mother and a great wife. She gave all her life for her family. But this was not what Maryam wanted to do. She wanted to help the children in their education. She also wanted to be the great teacher and member of the society. She heard a voice inside her like the voice of God and all of a sudden she knew it was God's call for her to continue the path of educating the future leaders of her country. She looked at the students, who had their faces down and who were counting with their small fingers. "There is no way I am going to leave them alone," Maryam said to herself.

That day she went back home like a fighter, like someone who had a destiny to achieve. She had turned into someone who would not accept defeat for an answer. She knew her parents would not be happy, but she would convince them. "My father will support me. He will understand," she thought. Maryam also knew that at age 27, she was too old for marriage in Afghan society and this might well have been her last chance of getting married. None of this mattered. The only thing that mattered was that she was doing something for her people. After that Monday, she spent every hour of every day, every minute of every hour and every second of every minute with the dream of building Afghanistan with a pen.

By Meena

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Afghan Women's Writing Project

Here are the first two essays posted on the new blog: 

The Evening I Will Never Forget

Posted: 20 May 2009 10:42 AM PDT

I was waiting for this evening for a long time and counting down the days. I bought the tickets two weeks before that. This was my high school Prom. It was my first time participating in such event. I was very excited. I had to get ready to go to prom.

I had to buy a prom dress, a pair of shoes and other stuff that girls usually need! I went shopping for a week looking for a nice dress. I did not want to buy a very open dress so I had to look for a longer time. I went shopping with my friends. They also wanted to buy dresses and shoes. I tried on many dresses. Finally I found a nice dress that I liked and I bought it. Now I needed a pair of shoes that would look nice with my dress. I went shopping for shoes with my host dad. He has good taste in shopping. I got a nice pair of shoes. It was a masquerade prom party so I had to have a mask as well. I looked for a mask but I did not find any that went with my dress and more importantly, that I liked. I found a good one at home that looked nice with my dress. It was two days before prom, I had a pedicure and manicure in a nice beauty salon. It was my first time. It felt so good to sit on that chair and put my feet in the warm water. After the manicure and pedicure was done, the lady applied nail color on my fingernails and my toenails.

On the day of the prom, I went to a hair salon to have my hair done. When I went home I called my friend who was a photographer to come and take some pictures. Then we both went to my other friend's house. There were my two other friends that I was going to the prom with. We started posing for the camera as my friend was taking pictures. It was so much fun, we enjoyed it a lot. After taking photos, we headed toward a restaurant that our friends were waiting for us to have dinner together. During the dinner, we talked and we took a few pictures.

Finally I got to the prom with my friends. Inside it was a little dark. There were colorful lights spreading color around. There was a DJ playing the music very loud. Most of the girls and boys were dancing, some of them were sitting and talking and some other were eating candies. My friends and I went and sat down holding our masks. After a few minutes, since I do not like sitting down especially when I am at a dance party, I asked my friend and we both went and joined the dance crowd. A nice music was on and everybody was enjoying it. Although I had very high heel shoes on, I did not stop playing around and dancing. I saw a few of my classmates and my friends among the crowd. We made a small circle and danced together. Then I got thirsty, I went and had a drink. There was a small chocolate fountain too. I went there, took a strawberry on a stick and dipped it in the flowing chocolate. It tasted really delicious. When I had a few, I went to my friends. We started taking pictures again. It was so much fun. Then we started dancing again. After a while, I went upstairs, WHERE there were some boys and girls playing a game. I played with them for a while. Then I heard someone was talking on the microphone. They had a game like a lottery. We all had tickets and they were announcing ticket numbers. If somebody's ticket number was announced, they would go and take their prizes.

They also announced prom queen and king whom I did not see because I was upstairs! It was near mid-night that the party was almost over. Everybody was going to his or her houses. My friends and I also left to go home. My friend had invited us to spend the night at her house a week ago, so we went to her house.

In her house, although we were a little tired, we started taking pictures again. We posed for the camera again and again acting like models. We were three girls having fun together by posing for the camera, which was set on self-timer. We took many pictures that way. It was early in the morning that we finally went to sleep.

That was one of the evenings that I will never forget. The wonderful time that I had with my two friends will stay fresh all the time in my heart and my thoughts.

By Fattema

Women are Moving Forward in Farah

Posted: 20 May 2009 10:39 AM PDT

The Khaharan Afghan Moving Association (Afghan Sisters Moving Association) was just established in the Farah province. This association is for educated and uneducated women, who do not have enough information about their rights. About 180 women became members of this association and registration is still going on.

This is a social organization which has activation in Kabul and some other provinces. In the first days, they have run workshops for women about their rights, and how women might participate in up-coming elections in Farah province

This organization also goes school to school and gives information for women.

Rabiha Ayoubi, provincial director of the association said, "This is an independent union and aims to help women stand on their feet. To get information about their rights in life, we are planning workshops in different fields. We also plan to provide job opportunities for the women who are jobless and have no income. This association defends women's rights in the Farah province."

When women heard about this program, they started coming to the Women Affairs Department to become a member of this association.

Mina a young girl, 20 years old, said, "I became a member of this union, because there is opportunity for me to get more information, I also can share my knowledge with uneducated women. This is a step up for women's progress. We all know that Afghan women have lost everything during the civil war. We have power, but we need more assistance. All women should come together to fight against injustice."

Malali is uneducated, but she is also a member of this group, and she said, "The opportunity did not exist for me and my sister to go to school and become educated. We married when we were very young. We have no information about everything. Our first workshop was about elections. I learned a lot of information about elections and voting, even I thought that I should vote for whom my husband is going to vote for, but now I know that every one can vote for separate person, I am so glad for The establishing of Afghan Sisters' Moving Organization.

Liloma Sadiqi, a Women's Affairs department director said, " Establishing this organization could be a successful way for women of Farah to grow. By working in this association, they could learn how to be together and how to find solutions to problems. From the name of the association, we understand that this organization wants to unite the women and that is very important work in Farah."

By Seeta

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why we should stay in Afghanistan: America owes the people of Afghanistan a moral debt

From: Tony Agnello,
President, Friends of Afghanistan

This was written in response to the Buffalo area Peace Center's call to ask Congress to stop funding for the US mission in Afghanistan. I am very sympathetic to the overall goal of regional peace, but the specter of the return of the Taliban makes me very cautious about a knee jerk response to our very complicated involvement in South Asia.


Salaam, Shalom, Shanti,

Please let me offer a respectful counterpoint
comment regarding the final line of your Peacemakers message below. As a point of prior disclosure, I served in Afghanistan from 1972 to 1975 with most of my time in country spent in the Province of Samangan, where I served as a science supervisor for the provincial school system as a US Peace Corps Volunteer.
I am no fan of the mismanaged, poorly prosecuted and ill conceived no bid, cost plus, for profit Western engagement in Afghanistan. But having returned in 2003 and in 2006 to implement student sponsored humanitarian projects, I can say, in hopefully balanced fairness, that while progress has been made in infrastructure repair, the building of both private and public construction projects and especially in education where boys and girls have returned to school in unprecedented numbers, there is, nevertheless, a growing sense of frustration and malaise among Afghan citizens. The deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan amid a rising insurgency and the public's frustration and disillusionment with the pace of national progress, aggravated by the failure of the massive amount of Western investment to trickle down through the glass ceiling of endemic corruption to reach the people, opens a door for alternative ideologies to appear reasonable even if their history of stability and security is remembered in a context extremism.
The Taliban movement, which was constructed during the Soviet occupation by the Pakistani Secret Police through the funding support of Saudi Arabia and the US CIA as a Mujahedin force to counter the Russian presence, would quickly and some say quite easily move into the power vacuum that would be created if America and the West once again abandoned Afghanistan. An unchecked and empowered Taliban presence in the region, acting as an independent force, separated from the control of its' ISI creators, could result in a nightmare scenario for South Asia. Here's what one could reasonably predict to see happen in Afghanistan and in the region if American and Western troops were precipitously withdrawn without a well planned exit strategy:
  • The Shia and Sufi religious minorities would be persecuted because of their heretical beliefs.
  • The Haz ara minority would suffer ethnic cleansing and renewed pogroms.
  • Centuries old cultural treasures would be destroyed as anti-Islamic idols.
  • Educational and occupational opportunities for women would be severely restricted and women would suffer gender discrimination on a scale that we can't fathom in the West.
  • Afghanistan would be plunged into Civil War with the threat of regional spillover into Pakistan.
  • A legitimate threat from Taliban paramilitary forces in Afghanistan would threaten the Pakistani Government's nuclear arsenal resulting in the very real threat of a non-national terrorist group acquiring nuclear arms. 20
The list above is a simple restatement of what the Taliban did while in power and an observation of their current aspiration in Pakistan. One could simply predict that the best indicator of their intention in a new position of power would be their past behavior while in control of the Afghan Government.
So, while I fully support a controlled withdrawal from Iraq and advocate all possible international initiatives to build a safe and secure Middle East respecting the rights of all people to live in peace and security in a homeland of their own, Afghanistan is more complex.
Perhaps we should start with an American policy that thanks the Afghan nation for fighting the hot point for our Cold War victory over the Soviet Union and acknowledges that the Afghan people accepted casualties in massive numbers in pursuit of independence, and then do something that modern nations do ever so infrequently, act in a way that is designed to promote the interests of Afghanistan and not pursue narrow self interest driven by the influence  of international arms merchants and corporate executives motivated by profit and not by ethical obligation.
America owes the people of Afghanistan a moral debt. I don't know how to evaluate the value of this kind of obligation but I can say that abandoning the people of Afghanistan to a harsh extremist religious movement will not serve the interests of Afghanistan nor if history serves as a teacher, neither is it in the best interest of the United States.
Tony Agnello
President, Friends of Afghanistan

Friday, May 08, 2009

Watch Homayun Sakhi: The Art of the Afghan Rubab on Link TV

Music for your soul

Video description:
Homayun Sakhi: The Art of the Afghan Rubab

Link TV: Television Without Borders |

Afghan Children's Songbook Project

Hearing your favorite childhood song often conjures up happy memories. For a generation of Afghans whose songs were intentionally eradicated, hearing familiar childhood songs is a powerful experience and brings many to tears.

THE AFGHAN CHILDREN'S SONGBOOK PROJECT began when RPCV Louise Pascale recently found an old copy of a songbook she created while in Kabul in the 1960's. Fearing the songs would be lost for future generations, she vowed to return the songs to Afghan children. To date, over 14,000 copies of the songbook and recording are now in schools and orphanges across Afghanistan. Afghan teachers and children are thrilled to have access to these songs once again.

The newly published English edition, Children's Songs from Afghanistan: Qu Qu Qu Barg-e-Chinaar, with English tranlstaion and transliteration of each song, liner notes and accompanying CD with Afghan children singing all the songs, is now available for $17.95 plus shipping. This is an excellent resouce for educators, music specialists, Afghan Americans families and anyone wanting to support Afghan children. All proceeds go to funding more songbooks in Afghanistan.

For more information about the Afghan Children's Songbook Project, to make a tax-deductible donation or to order a copy of Children's Songs from Afghanistan: Qu Qu Qu Barg-e-Chinaar, go to:
Folk Arts Center, 42 West Foster St., Melrose, MA 02176-3811. 781-662-7475.
To contact Louise, founder of the project, email:
Louise M. Pascale, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Core Faculty
Creative Arts in Learning
Lesley University