For the last couple of days, the airwaves have been filled with the horrific action of one man, a Florida minister, who felt the need to burn the Koran to make his point. This action ignited a backlash from some Afghanis who decided to take revenge by killing innocent men, women and children, escalating both hatred and fear of the “other”.
This is the same minister who threatened to do it on 9/11, however, after a strong public outcry and the promise of a free 2011 Hyundai, vowed not to do it, “not now, not ever.”
I would like to offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences to all who lost loved ones.
I would also like to share another view or what I call “the other side of the coin.”
A couple of weeks ago I sponsored a workshop/fundraiser for Traveling Postcards, www.travelingpostcards.org, along with Trust in Education, www.trustineducation.org, for an after school art program in a rural village outside of Kabul. Think, “Three Cups of Tea.” The program will reach 80 boys and girls a day. The intention is to provide not only an opportunity to explore self through creativity, but also provide a safe place for women in the community to gather and share their uncensored voices.
The fundraiser was an opportunity for women to come together, to share stories, create works of art (postcards), share their wisdom and, of course, laugh! We ended up being a small, multi-cultural and multi-faith group, which connected around a common cause: the desire to make the world a better place through art, wisdom and creative action.
The postcards are being hand delivered to the women and children in this rural village next week. Art supplies were also being sent so that they will be able to create and share their wisdom with others.
One thing that gives me great joy is helping women connect to each other. I call it connecting the dots. When I was a kid and would visit my grandmother, she would always have a coloring book that included different activities including connecting the dots. I would always go to those pages first as I was curious to see what image would surface.
One of the women who participated in the workshop/fundraiser was Farideh. I had not met her before but we had a mutual friend who told her about the event. She shared that her daughter, Nazaneen, had been working with women in Afghanistan before she passed away from cancer. It was her daughter’s wish that her family carry on the work that she started. That’s how the Nazaneen Tououli Foundation, www.naztoloui.com, was started. Nazaneen Toloui was simply known to friends, family and colleagues as Naz. She was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, and at age 13 she and her family moved to the United States to pursue better educational opportunities for her and her sister. She graduated from the University of California Berkeley, with two bachelor’s degrees, one in African American Studies and another in Humanities with a concentration in the Literature of Women of Color. The Foundation seeks to continue her efforts for the education and advancement of women around the world.
Little did I know when I woke up that morning, that three organizations with common interests would be connecting to each other and sharing resources.
Do you think this post will generate one tenth of the publicity that the pastor got?
You can view some of the postcards with their messages below. Please take a moment and check out the above mentioned organizations.