Photo by Steven Wohlwender
I moved to the United States in 1979, one year after the Russians invaded Afghanistan. Although I have spent the majority of my life here, I continue to feel very close to my birth country. However, that was not always the case.
When I arrived in the United States at age 11 my main mission was to assimilate and become as American as possible. I went through high school, college, and my twenties oblivious of the plight of the Afghan people and the war in Afghanistan. In 2001 as American bombs started falling on Afghanistan and the Taliban were ousted, I was jolted awake from my dreamy life by a phone call from my father. He said “Humaira, you can do something to help the Afghan people.You should get involved. This is when Afghans need us the most. Of all my children, I know you can make a difference. ”Wow, that was quite a request and burden. I resisted at first, but when my father was diagnosed with cancer shortly thereafter, it spurred me into action and I took the path toward social entrepreneurship.
How to “help” did not come easily to me. Although I could speak the language and could certainly find my native country on the map, I knew very little about what had happened during the past 20 something years of war in Afghanistan. So since delving into my work to support Afghanistan nine years ago, I have experienced a major learning curve. My education was not just about Afghanistan or running a non-profit, but more importantly, it was about my heritage. Come to think of it, I probably benefited the most from this “help”. I found myself in this process.
I am now an advocate for the Afghan people and I devote my time to the education of Afghan women and girls through my organization Afghan Friends Network (AFN).
I have worked hard along with my colleagues at AFN to deliver sustainable educational programs for women, girls and educators. We promote cultural exchange that promotes self-sufficiency and empowers Afghans, women and girls in particular. We help women help themselves. We give hope to girls and boys who have no hope. We educate our communities that we are not so different after all.
The other day Katie was telling me that she is envious that I am Afghan since it’s easier to explain to people why I am doing an Afghan food blog. On the contrary, I feel like an imposter in the food world, and I have only recently learned to cook the food I grew up on. When I first approached Katie about doing an Afghan cookbook my main objective was to educate people about the beauty of Afghanistan: its people, culture and of course, delicious food. Thanks to our blog we have been able to accomplish that goal. In my short time of writing Afghan Cooking Unveiled I have learned that food is a wonderful way to learn about cultures, forge friendships, and surpass the biggest dividers in our world; politics, religion and war.
So, I invite you to join us for a lunch of fabulous Afghan food at AFN’s annual fundraiser on March 3rd, 2010 where we will have an Afghan feast, we will hear from renown Afghan author Tamim Ansary and spend our lunch hour being global activists. If you are able to join us we would be honored to see you at AFN’s annual event and if you are not able to join us, please consider making a contribution to an AFN project that is meaningful to you.
Daylight Nourishing Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan
Afghan Friends Network Annual Event 2010
Please join us for a traditional, celebratory Afghan luncheon to honor and to help the women and children of Afghanistan, and their teachers. We, at AFN have been devoted to education in Afghanistan for the past nine years. Your support will enable us to continue our work, just when the Afghans need it the most.
If you are not able to attend, please donate any amount you can afford we take donations on our website www.afghanfriends.net or just mail us a check, it's all tax deductible.
Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2010
11:30am – 1:00pm
Location: Kabul Restaurant
1101 Burlingame Avenue
Burlingame, CA 94010-4105
Featuring: Three course traditional Afghan feast
Tamim Ansary, noted Afghan author of West of Kabul, East of New York and Destiny Disrupted, A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes
Suggested Donation: $75 per person
Please respond to email@example.com. For more information, please visit www.afghanfriends.net
* Professional Photographer Steven Wohlwender traveled to Afghanistan with me in April 2006.