Monthly Archives: January 2009

True Bravery

 

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During my recent trip to Afghanistan, a group of girls were attacked walking to school in the southern province of Kandahar.  This is a province is currently one of the most unsafe provinces in Afghanistan and is in danger of slipping entirely under the rule of the Taliban. Last November, 11 girls and 4 teachers were attacked with acid by three men on motorcycles. One injured so badly that she was sent out of the country for her burn treatment.  

Months before the attack there had been posters placed around local mosques stating, “Don’t Let Your Daughters Go to School.”  

A couple weeks ago the New York Times reported that nearly all the girls had returned to school, as had most of all the other female students.

THIS is bravery.  This shows the value of education above all else.  Girls willing to endure physical assault or even death in order to go to school.  Families willing to accept their daughter’s and the entire family’s danger, in the belief of education.  

I had heard of alternative forms of education cropping up in areas where the Taliban was cracking down.  The most common being various forms of home schooling for small groups of girls.  Creative to be sure, but unfortunate that this is the only option – education in secret. 

These girls are standing up to the Taliban, and others that would continue to repress women’s rights, and proving their strength every day they make the walk to school in their school uniform.  If only we could all be as brave.

Watch the story here.

photo by Di Zinno

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The Call to Service

Along with the entire nation today, I watched with a hopeful heart and open mind, as Obama took over the leadership of our nation.  Eyes welled up to hear words like, “We come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”   Eloquent words to be sure, and long overdue.

What sets Obama apart from the majority of politicians is his hearkening back to the era of JFK by placing the power and the responsibility of moving our country forward at the feet of us, the citizens, and the drivers of this runaway train.   This country is supposed to be run by its citizens, with the politicians working FOR us, our representatives in the highest echelons of government.   Instead, citizens get lazy and dependent, assuming that those in power will do what’s right and then complaining when they don’t.  Too many times have I overheard, “I am just one person, what can I do.”  “If I was in power I’d do things differently.”  “Politicians are all crooked and can’t be trusted.”

In response, I quote the aforementioned President, JFK.   “Anyone can make a difference, and EVERYONE should try.”

Obama too, has made it a priority of his campaign, and by initial looks his administration, to place the importance of volunteerism, community service, and citizenship responsibility, front and center.   His call to action reminds me of how Mountain to Mountain, alongside many grassroots organizations were started and how we can all find those small steps to “Be the Change.”

Grassroots organizations are formed to fill a need that someone is passionate about;  children’s medical issues, abandoned dogs and cats, breast cancer, environmental issues, women’s rights, etc.  Someone gets inspired, gets off their ass, and gets to work, hopefully enlisting support, help, and donations along the way to make a difference in lives and communities in small and big ways.

Our own grassroots organization started with two women committed to equality gender inequity through education in remote mountain communities in Pakistan.  Our passion overrode any naysayers affect on the momentum of our fledging organization and our own community support to get behind the effort of building schools overseas with Central Asia Institute.

Entering our third year, and the first on our own non profit instead of supporting others, the commitment to inspiring others to get involved as a means to further our projects is still at the forefront of our approach.

It is our hope that if we inspire those at home to get involved, we can inspire more children to reach their full potential through education.

It is our wish that as more and more citizens answer our President’s call to action, that our own goals for community involvement and building our volunteer base will be positively affected.  Each volunteer that offers up their time and skills drives organizations like ours further.  As our ranks grow, so do the possibilities.

In the upcoming months of this new administration, I look forward to not just watching the direction of our country, but doing my part to create positive changes here and abroad.  I hope that my fellow citizens will do the same, whether with our organization, on their own, or with the myriad of other organizations working to create positive changes throughout this country and throughout the world.

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