An Afghan Heroine

It’s a madhouse today! Weekly news will have to come on Monday. In the meantime, we offer some reflections on a deeply moving night from our EVP, Joyce Dubensky:

The news from Afghanistan is so often about violence, death, a rugged land where lawlessness reigns. But this week there was a celebration – and an Afghan heroine was at the center of it all. Tanenbaum’s Peacemaker in Action from Afghanistan – Sakena – got a very prestigious award. Heather and I were invited to attend and we watched as she received the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership. What a night! We got to say hello to her, but there was no time to talk – except as she asked me to quickly help her adjust her hijab.

Sakena was mobbed and everyone was proud to call her friend.

But what was really special about the evening wasn’t that she got this award or that she was mobbed with admirers. It was listening to Sakena’s speech. She spoke of real life, her work and hope in Afghanistan. Sakena’s said that she accepted the award on behalf of the women from Afghanistan. She spoke of their “simple” lives, every day raising kids, doing household chores, living without electricity or running water, bearing large numbers of children without health facilities or doctors. And then she talked about a woman who dreamed about learning to read. The woman was married at 13 and had four children by the time she was 21. She came to the Afghan Learning Institute at 21 – she did all her work, but she also learned to read. She came as a quiet woman, with a dream and the odds against her. With Sakena’s help, the woman now calls herself a leader and is running a health care center run by AIL.

Sakena closed her remarks with an apt reflection. Every day there are bombs exploding and people are dying in Afghanistan. But every day they are living there too. And they are coming out into the light – in search of learning and living