Tag Archives: community

‘Streets of Afghanistan’ Exhibit in Istalif

Yesterday we premiered the Streets of Afghanistan exhibition in the village of Istalif, a remote village in the Shomali Plain north of Kabul. Four years ago, I envisioned a collaborative photography exhibition between Afghan photographers and Western photographers that had deep affection for this country. Instead of a gallery show, I imagined surrounding the viewer in the image to bring the art off the wall, and into the viewers world.  I wanted to see people’s reaction as they interacted with lifesize images and hoped that it would change American perspectives of Afghanistan – that if we saw it as a country with a beautiful spirit and culture that we would be more invested in it from a humanitarian perspective.

Yesterday I saw that vision come full circle as we brought the exhibition TO Afghanistan, among Afghans themselves to surround them with the beauty and spirit of their country and communities.  28 photographs lines the market streets outside of the mosque on the first day of Eid in the village of Istalif and the reaction was nothing short of amazing.

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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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