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June 9, 2011

Tags: Afghanistan, Ghazni province, Nadia Tarzi, APAA

By Claudia Brose

In honor of the Afghan Delegation from Afghanistan’s Ghazni province visit to San Francisco, The Asia Foundation held a Luncheon and Panel Discussion on June 8th that aimed to offer the delegation insights into the efforts of Bay Area based non-profit organizations addressing issues in Afghanistan. APAA’s Executive Director Nadia Tarzi was one of four panelists presenting their work to improve Afghanistan’s educational, cultural and social environment. The Delegation of eleven included, among others, the governor and Mayor of Ghazni Province, members of Afghanistan’s Parliament and representatives of the Ministry of Information and Culture.

In 2007 Ghazni (with a population of 1.3 million) was acknowledged as the “Capital of Islamic Culture” for 2013. It is situated in eastern Afghanistan, along the strategic route that links Kabul and Khandar – a key province in Afghanistan’s past, present and future. As Ghazni Province plays today an important role in the economic, agricultural, and political realms of contemporary Afghanistan, efforts are in place on an international level to raise awareness of and improve relationships with this region.

APAA’s presentation demonstrated a different angle on “aid” work in Afghanistan. Helping to preserve the identity of an embattled nation through cultural preservation and archeological and historical education is perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when pondering how best to support a society which is attempting to rebuild itself. Yet, it is a building stone in international development efforts, as dignity, pride and an awareness of one’s own past are important aspects of a life worth living. Together with Afghan Friends Network, Afghans4Tomorrow and Roots of Peace, organizations who work to improve the lives of women and children, empower educators, develop agricultural and health programs and de-mine the country, APAA plays an important role in reviving a culture and society that finds itself in a constant state of conflict.

One couldn’t help thinking that there was a room filled with wonderful people, Afghans and non-Afghans, dedicated and passionate, skilled and driven to help people who don’t have the means to help themselves. But then, there are those, who prefer the tools of corruption, greed and power – and they make it so difficult for the rest of us.

Fantastic news!!  We have blown past our original goal of 10,000 signatures on our petition to protect the Mess Aynak site from Chinese mining developers.  Can you imagine these incredible archaeological treasures being destroyed for commercial profiteering?  Well, more than 10,000 of you think that is a bad idea and we THANK YOU FOR YOUR INCREDIBLE SUPPORT!!

As of today, we have 10,360 signatures and we are going for a stretch goal of 20,000 by the end of June 2011.  WE CAN DO THIS!  We will be reporting on progress in our April newsletter which features an article on Mess Aynak by Professor Tarzi himself.  You will not want to miss this exclusive!

So, here are three things to do right now:

  1. Sign up for a subscription to this blog so that you will not miss any future news.
  2. Add your signature to the Care2 petition by clicking here.
  3. Subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here.

We welcome your comments and feedback

Nadia.

We are delighted to have our new newsletter now available for you.  We plan to produce a newsletter every two months, perhaps more frequently, depending on the valuable content to be published.

Please view and/or download your newsletter by clicking here.

To sign up for updates and to be automatically informed of future newsletters, please click here.

Our newsletter brings you the latest news on activities in Afghanistan, related events, involvement by celebrities and key dignitaries, and resources that you can get involved with yourself.

We are at over 9,000 signatures for our Mes Aynak petition.  Please download the newsletter to learn more about this, and visit our web site to add your support.

by Claudia Brose

Afghan Treasures

The exhibition Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum of Kabul is traveling the world and will be on display at the British Museum in March 2011. Titled Afghanistan – Crossroads of the Ancient World, the British Museum will show 200 treasures from the Kabul museum that survived the years of civil war and Taliban rule together with selected items from its own collection.

Nearly lost during years of conflict, this collection of some of the most remarkable archaeological finds in all of Central Asia were found between 1937 and 1978 and were exhibited in the National Museum in Kabul before it started its tour around the globe.

In 1988 the government and National Museum officials, worried about their historical works of art getting destroyed or looted, made a plan to transfer many of the artifacts to secret hiding places. In 2003 it was revealed that the vault in which the objects were hidden was intact and the artifacts were recovered from their safe and secret spot.

The exhibition offers a look into Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage with pieces that are not only artistically magnificent but also demonstrate a diverse and thriving ancient culture in Central Asia.

The exhibition is traveling the world and has already been on display at these museums:

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. – May-September 2008

Asian Art Museum San Francisco, California – October 2008-January 2009

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas – February-May 2009

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – June-September 2009

Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, Canada – October 2009-March 2010

Kunst und Ausstellungshalle Bonn, Germany – June 2010-January 2011

British Museum, London, Great Britain – March 2011

http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/future_exhibitions/afghanistan.aspx

courtesy of the Washington Post

Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, has spent the past year working on a new social network. This time, for good deeds.

With Jumo, set to launch on Nov. 30, Hughes hopes users will bring the same enthusiasm they do to Facebook status updates and fan pages to issues such as women’s rights in South Asia, child trafficking in Eastern Europe, and the fight against Aids.

And instead of working out of the Harvard University dorm room he shared with Facebook partner Mark Zuckerberg, Hughes has been working out of offices of in New York. Jumo, means “together in concert” in the West African language Yoruba. It “conjures up the idea of a lot of people working on different causes simultaneously to affect social change,” Hughes said.

The nonprofit is launching its social network as households are cutting expenses. But 60,000 people have signed up so far, without knowing much about it the project. Hughes thinks people would get more engaged if they knew about what their favorite charities and causes were up to and met like-minded people on the Web.

Hughes, who ran the social media campaign for President Obama’s election run, stopped by The Washington Post last week to talk about Jumo.

The APAA is proud to be one of the early adopters of Jumo.  Please follow our cause by clicking on this link.

http://www.jumo.com/org/4cfedcf33d8ef51181fb23f5

Working to improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan – The Rebuilding Afghanistan Summit in San Francisco and Los Angeles, November 2010

Written by Claudia Brose.

It is a challenge to give Afghanistan a different face than what we see every day in the news. The ‘Afghanistan Hidden Treasures’ exhibition (still touring the world), different events, Non-Profit activities and a movie about Afghanistan (The Black Tulip), entirely filmed in Afghanistan and soon to be released, are examples of many efforts to keep a ‘positive Afghan fever’ in the air and a steady support on the ground.

The recent 7th ‘Rebuilding Afghanistan Summit 2010, which aimed to raise public awareness and garner support for Afghanistan, was a very encouraging event. It brought together a number of non-profit organizations working in Afghanistan, Afghans of older and younger generations, and an eager audience ready to learn about and support the efforts to help Afghanistan’s people. For the first time this Summit took place in Los Angeles, after many successful years in San Francisco. The goal is to have this event growing and being hosted in many more cities.

Will the exploitation of the copper mine Mes Aynak boost Afghanistan’s economy or destroy an ancient religious site along the Silk Road? Can a touching movie on Afghanistan (The Black Tulip, Afghanistan’s official entry to the 2011 Academy Awards) help to open a new window on this broken country? Why do Afghans today have to go back in history in order to catch up with the future? These and many more questions were discussed during presentations, networking time and workshop sessions. The question How and why should we preserve Afghan archaeology? discussed at the APAA workshop, attracted older as well as new generations of Afghans born in the US. The tears of an older lady and the well-posed questions by some younger attendees substantiated the significance that heritage has to the lives of Afghans today.

The Summit revealed two important aspects. One is the different perspective on how and when “change” for the life of Afghanistan’s people is happening. While some argue that change still hasn’t happened, others see it already happening. The other aspect is the strong desire to convey to the world that Afghanistan has a different face than just that of cruel war, desperate people and a destroyed country; the country deserves to be recognized as having a long-standing history and beautiful culture.

To sum up all the efforts, Tamim Ansary, the Afghan-American author of West of Kabul, East of New York and public speaker said at the San Francisco Summit: “The rebuilding activities done now in Afghanistan are like planting seeds whose results we won’t see for decades. And be prepared that the only reward you will get out of it is that you contributed to Afghanistan becoming ‘normal’ again.” In the broad scheme of things – that’s worth the effort.

For more information about the Summit, please visit http://www.afghansummit.org

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