Sunday, June 21, 2009

What I want to say about my father… by a brave young Afghan woman

Happy Father's Day!

This is an example of the writing of the Afghan women and their interaction with the instructors of the Afghan Women's Writing Project. For more of their writing visit:

Friends of Afghanistan is supporting this project by providing computers and a women's only internet cafe at the SOLA Women's Dormitory. Visit
If you would like to make a contribution toward the computers needed for this project.

To all you dads out there, ask yourself - what if your daughter were born in Afghanistan? What would you want to do for her?

If only this world had more fathers like Meena's dad!

I look forward to meeting Meena at Lake Norman NC next weekend. She leaves Kabul with 32 war injured children being flown to Charlotte NC for medical treatment this summer. I plan to encourage this young woman in her courageous work. She is the first recipient of a scholarship arranged by Ted Achilles and the good people who support SOLA - She will be studying in the US beginning a 4 year college program in NY.

Again, may you all take such pride in your father as that shown by this young woman. May all you dads deserve such praise!
Terry Dougherty

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Janis Newman
Date: Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 1:29 PM
Subject: {Writing 101} Some writing from Meena
To: AWWP Writing 101

Hello writers,

On Father's Day here in America, I am sending out a beautiful essay written by Meena about her father. My comments are at the end.

What I want to say about my father…

What I want to say about my father is that he is my comfort in times of pain, my courage in times of defeat and my hope in times of despair. Fathers are those precious gifts of God, whose finger we hold and learn how to walk. Someone whose arms give us a sense of security and whose smiles give us hope.
In a country where girls are forced into marriages, denied education and are surrounded by harsh religious and cultural taboos, I have always found my father standing not only behind me but also beside me.

When a girl entrance the world of ladyship, this brings along sexual harassment, social barriers, home imprisonment, denial of education and many other denials to basic human rights for many of my Afghan sisters. Most certainly I was no exception but fortunate enough to have my father in my fight against the them.

After retuning from the United States, I took a part time job with a British journalist working on a documentary as well as a news piece about the American elections. The experience taught me on how hard it is for an Afghan woman to go out and work. During an interview in Khair Khana being surrounded by a crowd of men with the two journalist and i in the middle. The crowd started paying me cheeky comments for i as an Afghan women, working out doors with foreign journalists. I looked around and it was something I was always afraid of. Being surrounded by men and not being able to defeat my self. I listened to all the comments and continued translating the interview contents for the journalist.

That night when I went home, I directly went to the big room in the right corner of the hall, where my father was watching the News. After saying Salaam I sat beside him. He looked at me saying "What is wrong child?" I had no words to express myself. I was angry but what for? For being a girl, for being an Afghan girl, for being insulted or for what. Turning my face to my father I started saying " Padar Jaan, It was a horrible day today. The men insulted us as much as they could possibly do. I hated it so much"

My father looked my in the eye saying "In Afghanistan, It is the world of men and it takes strong women to make it the equal world of men and women". He said nothing more and acted as nothing had happened. All of a sudden I no longer had any anger inside but it was replaced by courage and passion longing for change. I continued my job, paying minimum attention to what people said or thought.

That is who my father is and that is his importance in my life. They say there is a woman behind every successful man; I would say there is also a man behind every successful woman. For me that man is my father

My comments: I love everything about this essay! It is beautifully written! I love the way Meena describes her father as always standing beside her. I love how she describes what her father means to her in the first line. I especially love the scene Meena gives us of coming to her father after the men have insulted her. This is an excellent scene. One very good thing Meena does in it is let us know exactly how she is feeling. The idea that she is angry, but for what, is very real, and very powerful. Although nothing like this has ever happened to me, Meena makes me understand exactly how it would feel. I also love the dialogue that Meena uses here. Her father's quote about Afghanistan being a world of men and how it will take strong women to change it is particularly powerful and good. This line makes us understand completely who Meena's father is, and why she loves him.

Because it is Father's Day, I am going to send this essay out to many of my friends here in America. It's a lovely and meaningful tribute to all fathers. Thank you for writing it.



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