Monday, September 28, 2009

The Afghan Women Writer's Project honors a friend from Mountain View, CA

Sharing the bad news that one of our AWWP supporters in Afghanistan, Rosemary Stasek, (employer of our writer Roya and a big supporter of women in Afghanistan) died yesterday in Kabul.

There is a news article about her death here:

There is a June 2008 MSNBC piece on her work here:

She will be missed.

Read "Be Proud, America" below, to learn more about Rosemary Stasek from one of the Afghan Women Writers who knew Rosemary as a friend and mentor.

Terry Dougherty


Be Proud, America

Posted: 27 Sep 2009 12:32 PM PDT

(Editor Note: Rosemary Stasek, AWWP friend and former mayor of Mountain View, California, died on Thursday September 24, 2009, in Afghanistan.)

It was a Wednesday in June when I had my interview with Rosemary. She accepted me as program assistant for her organization, "A Little Help." I was glad and I was afraid. But she was not like a boss to me. She was like a teacher. The first days, everything was new. She gave me some letters to print. I tried and I tried, but the printer was angry; it was not printing, I went to Rosemary and told her, "Please, come check the printer." She came and checked, and plugged the cable on the printer and smiled at me.

my rose 003

One day she gave me a list of supplies she had to buy for a hospital, and sent me to get price quotes. When I left the office, I found I understood all the words but one. I studied the word and then went to the furniture store and ordered some chairs. When I got back to the office, Rosemary asked me, "Where did you go?" I replied that I was at the furniture store. Again she looked at me and smiled and printed out a paper with a picture and showed me: the word I didn't understand was "crutches." When I looked at the paper, I laughed, and she laughed too, but she didn't make fun of me.

Her office with its green lawn and roses was also her house, but it was my home too. I felt calm there. She was not like a foreigner. She was a family member. She stayed in Afghanistan almost six years and Afghanistan was her home. Her other assistant, Karima, and I were both studying at the university. On exam days she didn't like us to work very much at the office. She encouraged us to study and try hard.

Rosemary did a lot for women. Take a few minutes and visit her site .
She was working days and nights, helping Afghan women not only in the capital, but all the provinces of our country. In Bamyan, Ghor, Mazar, Kabul, Parwan, and many, many other provinces, there are hearts who love Rosemary.

She remains in a lot of memories in my heart and soul. I remember the time we visited a blind school. The blind teacher and students were playing music and she started to dance. Everyone was blind so only I could see her, but she danced and we both had tears in our eyes, oh oh oh.

But life is unfaithful sometimes. The woman we knew was sick in the last three months. Most of the time she looked tired, but didn't express it in her face. She had her cute smile. But you could read from her face that Rosemary tolerated pain. Once or twice I asked her, and she told me: "I am not feeling well, but don't worry. I will be okay soon."

She was sick all of Ramazan but in the beginning she gave lots of prayer rugs and holy Qurans for Muslims. The last time we went to the girl's prison, she carried a lot of stuff that was very heavy. I told her I could carry it, but she wouldn't let me.

The other day we went to tax office together. I had all the work done there. She thanked me and congratulated me. I told her, "Don't thank me. It was all your work, Rosemary." But she smiled and told me, "No, Roya, it was you doing all the work." She drove us home. On the way, I told her, "Rosemary, this time when you go to States, I will take a driving course." She laughed and told me, "You missed your chance; why didn't you go when I was in Africa last month?" I repeated, "This time when you go, I will go to a driving course."

When we reached the office, Marne, Rosmary's kind husband, arrived from his office. Rose greeted him very friendly: "My dear husband, how are you?" She laughed and her laugh was an ocean of love.

One day before Eid, she gave all the office staff Eid gifts. She gave me new clothes. On first day of Eid, I sent her a message of Eid greetings. On third day of Eid, I called her. Although she was sick, she didn't tell me on phone. I missed her, so on fourth of Eid, even though it was holiday, I went to the office to visit her. She was in her living room. I was checking my writings on AWWP when Rosemary tried to walk to her office, but she was having trouble walking. She used the walls to help her. I followed her into her office and wanted to hug her, but she was very sick, very, very sick. She couldn't talk and could hardly breathe. She pointed and invited me to sit. I sat down and told her, "Rosemary, you will be okay soon. Take it easy." She smiled, and I asked, "What can I do for you?" She said, "Roya, I know what my sickness is. You can't do anything for me. Go to your office and make yourself some tea." I went to my office but I was worried because of Rosemary; what was happening to her?

my rose 001She left the office and sat on the chair in her lawn. Tequella, her lovely dog, was barking, but she was just sitting. She couldn't breathe, but she was brave. She called me and asked me to add credit to her mobile phone. I did it and she asked me to make her a salad, but then she felt worse and didn't ask about it. Marne came from his office and sat with her. I looked from the window. They were like two birds fallen in love. After a while, he returned to his office.

It was 5:00, time for me to leave. Again I sat with Rosemary and I didn't want to talk. I just wanted to look at her and be with her. She looked at me and she felt I was very sad. I asked her, "What should I bring you tomorrow?" She said, "Bring me apricots." I asked, "What about peaches?" She said, "That's okay, peaches are also soft. Try to find good ones."

When I said goodbye to her, she said, "Roya, don't leave me alone. Stay a few minutes until Marne comes from his office, or tell Fatha the driver to stay here." I stayed with her longer. Then she told me, "Go, it will be late for you." I told Fatha to stay and I left the office. When I was on the street getting a taxi, I saw Marne arriving, and I was happy.

On the way home, I was thinking about Rosemary. The next day was Thursday. We had lunch guests. I was worried because I had to get to the office, but the guests were late. So I texted Rosemary that I would come to the office late, but she didn't reply. It was the first time she didn't reply to me. I thought she was disappointed in me. I didn't want to accept that she was sick and couldn't reply to my message.

On the way to the office, I tried to buy apricots. There were none, but I bought some peaches. I was in a hurry, hurry, hurry. Fatha was at the office. I asked him, "How is Rosemary? Where is she?" He told me Rosemary was very sick and Marne had taken her to the hospital.

I put the peaches on the nice plates Rosemary had in her kitchen. I was hopeful that when she came, she would eat the peaches and I would bring her more. I called Marne. He told me they were at ISAF hospital. I told him, "I want to come," but he said it was not possible for me to enter because it is a military hospital.

At 5:00, I went home. That night the sky was dark and the moon was lost. At 10:00 p.m., I messaged Marne and asked about Rosemary's health. He wrote back that she was very ill. I think I only slept two hours that night. Early Friday, I was washing my clothes and then I checked my phone and there was a missed call from Marne. When I called him back, I didn't greet him. I just asked, "How is Rosemary?"

His voice held the pain I felt. He told me with deep sorrow that Rosemary died the night before.

my rose 006I couldn't hear that news. I hung up and started to cry. I was alone and needed someone to share my grief. It is very hard when you are alone, and you lose someone who you love. I called Mr. Ted, my dear teacher, director of SOLA. He thought I had a family problem. When I told him, he was shocked. Then I called Kathleen Rafiq, Rosemary's best friend. She tried to console me. I called Karima; she was shocked too. I went to her house and we talked about Rosemary and her kindness. One day and one night, nonstop, I cried, it was not only tears coming from my eyes, but blood was with them.

On Saturday morning I didn't go to the university; I went to Rose's house. When I opened the door, I saw a sad picture I can't forget: that tiny house and office was like a garden without a tree. Everything looked sad and worried; walls cried. Marne was sitting alone on the chair on the lawn. When I saw him, I couldn't control myself. We cried. Even Rosemary's dog Tequella cried; trust me, there were tears in her eyes. Later I went into the kitchen. The peaches I had bought for Rosemary were still on the plate. Her office door was open a bit, her handbag on the chair, her writings on the board of her office. I put some rose petals on her desk on her office, and some petals on her empty chair. I asked Life: why is it like this? We can find everything in our life, but when someone leaves this world, we can't find them back.

She passed her last breath with us Afghans. I tell American people, if all of the women are like Rosemary, be proud. She was an example of love, kindness and hard work. We learned a lot from her.

As I left at the end of the day, I knew I would never again tell the taxi driver, "2 Qalay Fathallah." I won't say, "Rosemary, see you tomorrow." She won't tell me, "Bye, Roya. Have fun!" I left the office at 5:00, walking empty streets, crying and saying "Goodbye, Rosemary. Goodbye, Rosemary."

By Roya


Posted: 27 Sep 2009 10:40 AM PDT

I think green about you

I bloom, like anemone, carnation

I feel as a champion

To think about you is to think about new poem

Thinking about you…

Dreaming the world

With splendid beauty

The happy days and nights

Days of anticipation

Waiting for you is sweet


At night looking out of the window

See you on the face of moon


The first kiss

Oh !

Thinking about you is

To drink fresh air in

In the peak of mountains!

By Roya

My Election Day

Posted: 27 Sep 2009 10:39 AM PDT

A week before the election, because of security concerns, the people of Afghanistan faced hundreds of problems, like not being able to attend school or do their routine work. Suicide attacks took a lot of victims, and people hardly wanted to leave their homes. As the election neared, the situation got worse, with the suicide attacks and blackmails attempts from anti- governmental people and Taliban. My province, Kunduz, which used to be very famous for being one of the safest provinces, is now one of the most unsecure provinces. People would recite their Ashhad, words of passing away*, every day. No one was sure if they would return home by day's end, nor did people trust each other, because no one could recognize good people from bad. Both were living in the same clothes.

I was in Kabul far from my family, in my uncle's house with my sister. There, I saw how much they were involved with the election. Seeing their courage and confidence, I drew courage from them. I told my uncle's wife that on Election Day, I wanted go with her to help, and I was pushy about it. I got trained for 15 minutes about where, how and what would happen.

I was afraid, but I felt really strong about my country and I couldn't stop myself. When my sister saw me, she was willing to come with us, too.

On Election Day, streets were empty and silent. You would see only twenty people in a mile. We woke up at 4:45am, got ready to go, and I was in my section at 6:00am. Election workers had fear but didn't want to show it to others to keep everyone strong and make them feel nothing would happen. I was distributing voting papers to people and giving instruction about how to vote.

We waited for a long time. At about 8:00 am a group of women arrived. We were very happy to see them and we welcomed them. By the end of the day, we had 208 votes from one women's section, which was over our expectation. They were very supportive of their favorite candidates.

The voting process finished at 4:00 p.m as it should have, and then we had to start counting the presidential candidates' votes. I thought the process of voting was very straightforward and clear. Still people think that the process did not go how the government says; I heard them doubting an honest process.

My sister and I stayed there until 8:30 p.m. As the day got darker, we worked faster. Our section was the first to finish counting out of nine sections. Our boss praised my work.

I got home very tired, with zero energy. Even so, I went to volunteer for the second day, to count the provincial candidates' votes. After finishing our own section, I went to two other sections and helped them. It made me proud. I knew that any minute anything could happen, but I really wanted to participate. I did it spite of the risk.

Now people are waiting for the result and everyone is guessing that it will be a big deal to know their president. The violence has not stopped yet. We still have the situation that we had a month before election. Now Afghans are praying and hoping for everything go alright, at least from this point after.

Ashhad: Muslims read "there is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet" when they die, or they are about to die. If they read that they die as Muslim. And the words in quote are the Ashahad.

By Fatima

Friday, September 04, 2009

Fwd: Embassy of Afghanistan Newsletter Vol.68 August 2009

Welcome to our e-newsletter Vol. 68 August 2009

President Obama Sends Best Wishes for Afghanistan's Independence Celebrations:

President Barack Obama sends congratulatory wishes to President Hamid Karzai, as well as to the people of Afghanistan, on the celebration of the nation's 90th Independence Day. President Obama called the day "significant." MORE

President Karzai Marks Afghanistan's Independence Day with Poetry:

President Karzai hosted well known poets and intellectuals at the Presidential Palace to mark the country's Independence Day.The president said he was happy to be among such a creative group of individuals and pay witness to their efforts as their efforts as they help to secure Afghanistan's unity and liberty. MORE

Foreign Minister Spanta Meets with American Congressional Delegation:

Afghanistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta welcomed an American Congressional Delegation in late August. Discussions included the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and Afghan's presidential elections. MORE

Afghans Mark the Nation's Independence Day at the Embassy:

Afghans celebrated the 90th anniversary of the country's independence this month. The following day, they lined up to defy terrorist intimidation by voting in the nation's second ever democratic elections. Ambassador Jawad remarked that the presidential race is an indicator of the democratic system's maturity. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Attends the White House Iftar Dinner:

President Obama hosted a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan and highlighting the contributions of American Muslims. Ambassador Jawad was among the honored guests to break the fast with a "feast." MORE

Afghanistan's Economy Blooms :

Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh Province in northern Afghanistan, is an eight-hour drive from Kabul and a different cultural region, dominated by Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen and Hazaras. Amiri Park occupies one-sixth of a "new town" of 648 acres planned to accommodate 30,000 people. It's an Afghan version of a gated community, though anyone well off enough to own a car or hire a taxi to get here can use the park without charge. MORE

Ground Breaking for Aynak Copper Project:

Aynak Copper Project was inaugurated in a glorious ceremony in Aynak area of Logar Province. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Mines Dip. Eng. Mohammad Ibrahim Adel, the head of MCC Shen Heting, Representative of Chinese Embassy in Kabul, Tajik Ambassador to Afghanistan, elders and representatives of Logar Province and journalists of media. MORE

Afghan Chief of Army Air Corps Recieve Legion of Merit Medal:

Chief of the Afghan National Army Air Corps, Major General Mohammad Dawran, visited Washington DC and held meetings with the senior leadership of the United States Air Force from July 12-18, 2009. General Dawran extended his personal gratitude to General Schwartz for the assistance the U.S. Air Force had so far provided to help redevelop Afghanistan's air corps and discussed the status of developing the Afghan National Army Air Corps. MORE

American Senator Reports Positive Election Process:

U.S. Senator Bob Corker a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spent several hours in the western part of Afghanistan observing the election process and saw lots of people waiting in line to vote but no sign of security problems or voting irregularities at the polling places he visited in Afghanistan. MORE

Ambassador Jawad Remembers a Friend:

With the death of American political icon, Senator Ted Kennedy, Ambassador Jawad takes a moment to reflect on the passing of a great man. Senator Kennedy's political insight and experience helped shape American policies in Afghanistan. Ambassador Jawad recalls time spent together, as well as a man who never turned away from trying to make the world a better place. MORE

Afghanistan's Election Day Turns into a Sophisticated Stump:

Excitement for Afghanistan's fresh new democracy was evident with the number of political candidates tossing their hats into the ring this year. But no where else was the advancement of liberty and freedom more evident than among the sophistication of the candidates' campaigns. Helicopters took candidates from event to event, while some even risked gunfire to make the campaigns all that they were. MORE

Washington Congressional Report:

Members of Congress spend their summer recess traveling to Afghanistan, before returning home to share their impressions. One member, Senator Bob Corker, is the sole American Congressional witness to national elections. MORE

Despite Challenges Afghanistan rises to the Occasion:

Ambassador Jawad took to the American radio airways, via, National Public Radio earlier this month. He discussed the dynamic headway made throughout Afghanistan as candidates took to the political stump, and triumphed over challenges to make this year's Election Day an outstanding success. MORE

Planning and Preparation, the Key to a Successful Election:

In anticipation of Afghanistan's Election Day, a lot of thought and planning was needed to secure locations all over the country. Coalition forces created a specialized "tiered" system for securing the polls, and put the effort into effect days before August 20th, 2009. MORE

Securing Afghanistan in a Regional Context :

Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari gave a lecture on "Afghanistan and Central Asia" to the Central Asia Advanced Area Studies at the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Institute on August 6, 2009, in Arlington, Virginia. Speaking to a group of American diplomats soon to be posted to U.S. diplomatic missions in South and Central Asia, Haidari discussed Afghanistan's stabilization and reconstruction efforts in a regional context. MORE

The Work of Midwives Blossoms in Afghanistan:

The first year the Midwifery school in Bamyan opened, not a single application was turned in. Now, just a few short years later, the school has an overflowing number of students.

Today the graduates of the school are helping to blaze a healthy new trail for women and babies. MORE

She Witnessed Afghan History :

Anita McBride, former chief of staff to former first lady Mrs. Laura Bush, was on the ground to witness history in the making for Afghanistan's second national Election Day. Through her eyes, she shares the story of the Afghan people, their fight for democracy and the hope to vote freely. Her moving story will remind you why so many people are inspired to help Afghanistan advance into a new era of stability and success. MORE

Afghanistan's Poppy Cultivation Falls by More than 20% :

In the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2009 released the amount of land under poppy cultivation has fallen by 22 per cent to 123,000 hectares since last year. The report said the decline was due to a combination of lower opium prices, aggressive interdiction by Nato forces and pilot projects backed by the UK to encourage farmers to grow wheat instead. MORE

Presidential Election and Future of Afghanistan:

Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari interviewed with the International Affairs Forum, a publication of the Center for International Relations, to discuss Afghanistan's recent presidential and provincial council elections. In addition to highlighting security and logistical concerns voting , the counselor discussed widespread popular support for democratic governance in Afghanistan, as well as building institutional capacity in the post-election Government to deliver basic services to the Afghan people. MORE

In Other News:Afghan celebraties, Civil Societies , UNAMA Join together to launch the 2009 peace in Afghanistan Campaign (UNAMA),AYNAK COPPER Mine predicted to create 8,000 direct jobs once landmines are cleared Afghanistan - (UNAMA),Teacher can we leave now? no (New York Times) ,Afghan Mountaineers make history(BBC) Afghan midwives step up to save lives (CNN) In War and Isolation, A Fighter for Afghan women (New York Times). MORE

Embassy in the News: This month Ambassador Said T. Jawad was interviewed by National Public Radio; The Wall Street Journal; The Washington Times; Ariana International Television and Pasjwak news agency. He spoke directly with FOX News's Martha McCallum and Jennifer Griffin, as well as with Indira Lakashaman of Bloomberg TV. Live to Kabul, the Ambassador contributed to reports from Washington, DC with Sky News's Jeremy Thomas and the BBC's Lyse Doucet. Ambassador Jawad also entertained discussions with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Senator Corker, Senator McCain and Senator Richard Lugar, among others.
Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari interviewed with CNN International, VOA Persian and Urdu Services, Alhurra (Arab TV Networks), Center for International Relations, and the RAND Corporation
. To read these and other articles and op-eds, please click Embassy in the news.

Embassy Events: On the eve of Afghanistan Election Day, hundreds from Washinton DC's Afghan community packed the embassy to celebrate Independence Day. Great food, music and losts of political discussions were all included on the menu of the day.To read about embassy events, please click on Embassy Events .

Questions and comments can be directed to

To unsubscribe click here.

Terry Dougherty