Tag Archives: non profit

Visions of Kabul

On Monday we leave for Kabul.  The first trip to Afghanistan and the first trip on behalf of Mountain to Mountain.

Our primary focus is to meet with the staff with AINA and the Afghan photojournalists that are represented by the AINA Photo Agency.  AINA’s focus is on empowering media and communication.  Through filmmaking, photography, radio, journalism, and design, AINA trains, produces, and empowers individuals and communities to speak out and make sustainable changes within Afghanistan.

Mountain to Mountain has created a photography exhibit, Views of Afghanistan, with the help of some of the world’s top war photographers.  This show will showcase several Afghan photographers alongside Western photojournalists with a long history of working inside Afghanistan.   Proceeds from the show will go to benefit AINA to create a sustainable and profitable agency that continues to empower, train, and provide outlets for Afghan photojournalism and media.

Our second tier focus is meetings with other NGO’s; Turquoise Mountain, Afghans for Tomorrow, Be Peace, and develop a better understanding of how local NGO’s are working in the current climate throughout Afghanistan.  Our focus with Mountain to Mountain has been with sustainable girls education in remote mountain communities and we’d like to see where we can continue this work in Afghanistan in years to come.

Our third tier is more cultural than non profit.  We are taking in a game of buzkashi (a cross of horse polo and rugby), meeting with a master kite maker, and also with a burqa maker.  We are meeting with artisans and architects with Turquoise Mountain.  All with the desire to illustrate stories of traditional Afghan sports and culture that is thriving in the post-Taliban era that we can pitch to different media outlets outside of Afghanistan, in the hope of shining a light on the people and stories that are often shelved in lieu of war and terrorism stories.

It all comes around to the focus of Mountain to Mountain’s outreach at home: storytelling.  Through traditional storytelling, photography, poetry, education, and multimedia, we want to break stereotypes and bring our projects to life, with the goal of garnering more support and donations for our projects.

Dari is the most common language in Kabul and I have been practicing my pronunciation with an ex-Peace Corps friend who worked in Afghanistan in the sixties.  It feels quite natural and I am enjoying the process much more than I have when I learned French and German.  So I am feeling confident in my pigeon-Dari and hope to practice more with our translator, Najibullah.  I am hoping to go to a few areas of the city where only women are allowed and will not be allowed in with my male translator.

After all the planning, its hard to believe we are going to be in the air while our own country is casting its vote for our new president.   I am anxious to see how the result is received in Afghanistan firsthand, fingers crossed that it is received positively.

Many thanks for all of the support and good wishes and please stay tuned for daily blogs from Kabul starting November 5th.

Shannon

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from small beginnings…

…big things can grow.

Such is the nature of Mountain to Mountain’s creation, its outreach, and the projects we support.

Two years ago the seed was planted to ‘be the change’. Like many across the world it was a simple act that spurred me to action. In my case, I read a book, “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. Inspired by the story of what one man can do to promote peace and educate children, with nothing more than passion and the willingness to make mistakes, I came to a realization. “What are you waiting for?”

A traveler and ex-pat for over ten years, I considered myself a global citizen. If that was truly the case, what was I doing to be part of the global community? How was I helping my global neighbor? The answer depressed me. And kick-started me in action.

Truth be told, I’m a doer. Some people may call it impulsive. Reckless. Crazy. Others close to me have kinder labels. I had no prior experience in philanthropy, fundraising, little public speaking experience, and no management background. Yet overnight, I decided to create a non profit. I’d learn ‘on the job’.

So, with the help and support of a good friend, Mountain to Mountain was born. The decision was made to host an author event with the man that had inspired my call to action and raise money for his foundation, Central Asia Institute. Our mountain community here in Colorado would come together to fund a school in the remote mountains of Central Asia – thereby connecting our mountain communities together through a common thread of education for all.

Our mountain communities are unique. We are small knit communities that share the common love of the outdoors, sports, and travel. We endure long winters, yet have thriving art cultures. Tapping into those values was what could make Mountain to Mountain unique in its fundraising and outreach. I didn’t want to just raise money, I wanted donors and supporters to understand WHY it was so important to get involved with our partners and our projects.

And thus, through the winter season of 2006/7, the author event branched out into a much larger fundraiser and booksigning alongside an inaugural charity trail running event, Race for the Mountains. Now I was adding the additional branch of ‘Race Director’ to my rapidly growing tree.

In just seven short months, we raised over $100,000 through our grassroots outreach. Enough to support the building of two schools in Pakistan with Central Asia Institute. Two communities that will benefit from their girls and boys being educated in a region with few schools, teachers, or opportunity. Two communities that recognized the value of educating their children and devoted their time, sweat, and materials to provide the manpower to make it happen.

and so we continue to grow….

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