Finding Hope

May 5

So much has happened since my last post and two days without internet. Security alerts were issued for this week because of threats of violence against the military and western targets, but then we received the unexpected news that OBL had been killed. Security is probably a little tighter because of it, but life seems to go on. We weren’t sure what we might be able to accomplish the day we received the news, but we actually had a great day and were able to find hope in HOOPOE Books.

These beautiful books are old Afghan folk tales that were published for the first time in 2006. Hoopoe Books has received a Public Diplomacy Grant from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to distribute 2.4 million of these books to provinces across Afghanistan. Eternal Threads is receiving 12,000 of these books to be distributed in the area where we work not only to school children but their parents as well. They will be fantastic tools for teaching literacy to adults and are especially useful in teaching critical thinking. We were able to go to the offices here in Kabul yesterday morning to arrange for our shipment of the first two book titles (there are six stories in all). They will probably go by bus and Hoopoe is even paying the shipping costs. Two more stories will be published in June and the remaining two in the fall. Our partner is beyond thrilled and excited about having these books for the children. They will have never seen anything like them in their lives. Can you imagine how these books alone will change this village?

Hopefully in the next few days we will be visiting a company that produces Domed buildings that can be used for schools and would be a perfect solution for our remote village. I can’t believe they only cost $6500 with $500 for a solar panel. They have a door and big windows for ventilation. They paint the inside and lay carpeting. Our children sit on the ground outside for school so this would be amazing for them. They will house about 70 students. They will stay have to go to school in shifts, but that’s true all over Afghanistan because the Taliban burned so many schools that there is not enough for the children to attend school all day. Afghanistan has the highest proportion of school age children in the world and yet half of them do not have access to education.

We will be going to Bagram Air Force base on Friday to meet with the Female Engagement Teams that are establishing sewing centers in villages. It’s really cool….the officers take off their helmets and wear a head scarf when they are in the village. I can’t wait for this meeting and will be writing more about it later, but we hope to be able to get the school supplies that we shipped from the U.S. for our village and get them on their way to our village to be distributed. The children have never had school supplies. Sometimes 3 or 4 kids will share one pencil and they often don’t send their girls to school just because they don’t have the money to buy supplies. This photo is of airmen from Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas preparing to load our school supplies on skids in January.
School Supplies

Our partner is a real “thinker” so I’m enjoying every moment that we just get to sit and talk. I was asking him every question that I could think of about whether or not he is safe going to the village and what all the scenarios might be of things that could happen. He assures me that because we have done so much good in the village….a water well dug with money raised by ACU students, winter clothing and food relief, a place for the women to work and income for the carpets they make….that the villagers would warn him if they thought they weren’t safe. That made me feel a little better, but before we finished talking he said, “BUT this is what I WANT to do. I want to change my country.” I know what he means so we stopped having the “What If” discussions.

He has a 12th grade education, but his wife never learned to read and write like so many others so he is teaching her at night. I’ll confess to all of you that it would be so easy to lose heart, to convince yourself that there really isn’t anything you can do that will make a difference. Especially being here if you thought about it too long you would give up hope. It’s so easy to ask yourself the questions that plague you. I had been thinking that all I’m doing is trying to make a difference in a remote village and maybe it isn’t enough. My partner and I were talking about this and he told me something that may sustain me the rest of my life as a human being and particularly as a woman. He said, “You know, you are a great lesson for us. Why would a woman from the other side of the world care about people in a village on this side of the world THAT isn’t even on a map.” When he said that to me he was saying it to all of you who have been a part of the work of Eternal Threads. Sometimes showing that you care may say more than the things you actually do….I hope so. Thank you for partnering with us in this adventure in a village that does exist whether it’s on a map or not and whether or not I ever get to see it. Everything we can do to give our partner credibility and the respect and trust of the village elders is what matters most.