Setbacks and Progress, Part 1….August 17, 2011

From our most recent newsletter: TIE’s recent setbacks are minor. Its recent new undertakings are having major impact. Some of both are reported below.  The time/progress graph will never have a straight line.   The gratifying news in these uncertain times is that we are not being forced to downsize. At least, not yet. Continue to enlist others though. The impact on the economy of Washington’s inabilility to function will certainly adversely effect donations this year.

Farza School Construction site

Afghan Resolve Personified 

A few weeks ago I wrote to you about the attack on the dome classroom located on the school construction site in Farza.  A rocket was fired into the dome. The night guard, Farim, was seriously injured in the attack and spent several days in the hospital. He’s back guarding the materials at night.

According to the villagers, the attack was not on the school or the education of girls. It was an attack on the shape of the dome. One religious leader had pronounced that only mosques should be built in the shape of a dome. Some followers decided to take action. Our dome and two others were attacked the same day.

The Afghan government announced they intended to dismantle and take the  dome structures. Last I heard, the villagers were trying to persuade the government to allow our dome to stay.  We had planned to propose using the dome classroom for computer classes, once the school was completed. Now we must contend with the government, a fanatic religious leader, and a developing controversy over the shapes of buildings.

Zohra Leads the Way
Zohra is the young Afghan woman, now living in Berkeley, who convinced us to raise funds to build a school for 350 girls in her village, Farza.

Zohra, not to be denied

Two weeks ago she called to let me know that she was willing to go to Farza and oversee the final phases of construction.

The villagers are very excited she is coming. We’re very pleased as well. It’s been difficult to stay abreast of the construction and impossible to monitor from here.

In addition to orchestrating the project to completion, there are tremendous side benefits to Zohra going. The men will be working with and getting direction from an educated, independent, and self-assured Afghan woman! The entire village will know and see how important a woman has been to this project. The women will be cheering her on from a distance. The girls will be in awe.

To provide you with some sense of how significant this is, at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the school (a school for girls, mind you) not a single woman or girl was present. “It’s a man’s world.”

I look forward to the day when we can send you a photo of Zohra, standing at the jobsite, clipboard in hand,  conferring with and directing the construction workers. That photo will qualify for a prominent spot on the refrigerator.

We boomers know all about the evolution of women’s roles and rights. In 1967, there were less than 15 women in my first year law school class of around 300. Today over 50% of first year  law and medical school students are women. Whose idea was it to give women the right to vote? It may be time to revisit the 19th amendment to the Constitution.

Incidentally, women have the right to vote in Afghanistan. In the previous election, an Afghan woman ran against her husband to represent their district. She won by a very large margin. They are no longer living together, so the story goes. Defeating your husband in an election apparently creates an irreconcilable difference.

More to come.

–Budd

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