As I’ve mentioned in my About Me page and in other posts, I’m a proud sponsor for the non-profit organization, Women for Women International. As a sponsor, I am connected with a woman in Afghanistan (or any other war-torn country, I just chose Afghanistan) whom I send $27 a month. That money goes toward her education in women’s rights, job skills, basic needs, and school supplies for her children.
I have been a sponsor since January of 2008. Each year, when one program ends and another begins, I receive a new “sister” to sponsor. So right now, I am in the middle of my second sponsorship. I did not receive any letters from my first sister, although I wrote her three or four times. Women for Women International reminds its sponsors and volunteers that some women are more receptive to the idea of writing their American sisters than others. Some are too traumatized to write. Some are leery of us. Some just plain don’t feel like it. Their reasons for not writing are just as varied as ours.
However, today I received my first letter from my new sister. I feel terrible that I didn’t write to introduce myself first, but with all the wedding stuff, I honestly completely forgot about the sponsorship program except for the monthly deductions coming out of my checking account.
I’d like to share what she wrote: (Please note that this is a rough translation as most of the women in the program are just learning how to read and write. Before joining Women for Women International, many Afghanistan women only knew how to sign their name, if that.)
“Greetings and respects to my dear sponsor sister, I hope God that, you are doing well.
I am a 34 year old uneducated and a house wife and I have 4 sons and 2 daughters. I have heard about this program in an announcement of our local mosque in winter the weather was too cold and I enrolled myself.
I am very happy that I have a kind sister like you and I am proud of you.
From rights lessons I learned that both sons and daughters have equal rights in a family and now I am a good mother for my children and I also learned about rights of a woman in a family and society, any way – Many thank from your funds and cooperation of women for women international and I don’t want to waste your time any more, bye.
(I’m withholding her name to protect her privacy)”
Her actual letter is written in — I’m assuming — Afghan Persian or Farsi. She even made a colored border around it and drew a beautiful, detailed floral pattern in the lower left-hand corner. The printed, translated version is stapled on top. Those little embellishments made me so happy and honored.
I’m so excited and eager to write her, but I don’t know what to ask first. What’s it like living in Afghanistan right now? How strong is the Taliban? Is she afraid? Does she feel safe? How are her children? Is school a safe place? Do her daughters attend school? What does her husband do? How have the Americans treated people? What is a typical day like for her?
Reading her letter opened up a whole new level of gratitude I had forgotten. No matter how bad our economy is or how much our paychecks get cut, women have equal rights here.
How lucky am I that I don’t live my daily life in fear of an oppressive force? I have plenty of food, fresh running water, a comfortable place to sleep, a wonderful education, and a stable job. My husband respects me and views me as equal (and vice versa). I am free to walk, say, think, wear, and do as I please (within respectable reason).
My sister in Afghanistan is among a minority of women who are taking the risk of learning. If she has the strength to defy societal norms in her country, how can I possibly balk at the paltry excuses preventing me from reaching my goals?
What do you recommend I ask my sister in Afghanistan?
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