Tag Archives: peace

An Update on the Afghan Women’s Fund

Written by Margaret McCasland

Ithaca Monthly Meeting has had a long and loving relationship with the Afghan Women’s Fund and its director, Fahima Gaheez (formerly Vorgetts). Fahima used to visit Ithaca regularly to update us on their work and to sell rugs and handcrafts to support AWF’s work. Barbara Barry and Fahima were especially close, and they stayed in touch until Barbara’s passing.

The Afghan Women’s Fund currently needs an infusion of funds to launch an innovative program “that could put education in reach of literally tens of thousands of Afghan girls and young women. We can’t share details yet, but we look to 2023 determined to make it work.”

One of the rugs sold by the Afghan Women's Fund

One of the best ways you can support her work is to purchase one of the hand woven rugs from central or western Asia that she sells to raise funds. You can see photos of the rugs here.

The following (lightly edited) letter is from the Fall 2022 issue of the newsletter of the Afghan Women’s Fund. To also see stories and photos from regions around Afghanistan, see the full newsletter.

Dear friends and supporters,
This year, the Afghan people, including AWF volunteers on the ground, faced more severe challenges.

Working in the Taliban’s Afghanistan is very hard, yet the resilience of our volunteers, teachers, and the women, men, young people and elders is unmatched in the face of their harsh situation. Many local efforts have been successful due to their determination and resourcefulness despite the circumstances, although limited by desperate needs for funding.

While it is possible to move supplies and money to support projects, everything must be done very carefully due to poorly functioning infrastructure in many sectors and the harsh and inconsistent rule of the Taliban. For example, many AWF vocational training projects have been on hold because two key volunteers were killed and another jailed and tortured and now is in hiding. In some locations the teachers and volunteers who have run AWF-supported adult literacy and vocational projects just cannot publicly do so at this time.

So this is a time of working as hard as possible where we can, and working delicately and persistently to expand that space. In the past year this has meant a focus on elementary education and supporting dogged local efforts in several provinces to make high school level education available for girls.

Looking Ahead, AWF remains dedicated to women’s rights and empowerment, no matter the circumstances. This year has been trying for the people of Afghanistan and we are honored to work alongside them to find ways around the obstacles.

Recently we began working on a new program that could put education in reach of literally tens of thousands of Afghan girls and young women. We can’t share details yet, but we look to 2023 determined to make it work. And to share it with you.

We are very careful doing our work and always emphasize caution to our volunteers. Many activists, organizers, and average people (including AWF volunteers) have been killed, tortured, or jailed by Taliban in the past year. Others have had their homes confiscated and had to go into hiding to stay safe, only to have family members harassed and even abducted. Many struggle to have enough food and adequate living conditions. But they still do what they can, as we must as well.

Afghans are knocked down over and over again, yet they stand up again each time. And you, who believe in humanity, thank you for being there for them. Your donations and other assistance literally make the difference. Every help – small or large – gives them hope.

Thank you for your trust, love, and support. Please be in touch!

Best wishes in these difficult times,
Fahima Gaheez
Director, Afghan Women’s Fund

Excerpt from the Fall 2022 newsletter of the Afghan Women’s Fund

From their website: https://www.afghanwomensfund.org/

“Since 2002, Afghan Women’s Fund has been dedicated to rebuilding Afghanistan with a focus on empowering women and girls through education, access to healthcare, and vocational opportunities. Over the years, AWF has built and opened new schools for girls, developed literacy and computer skills classes for women, created income-generating projects for widows to help them become self-sufficient, distributed warm clothing and school supplies to refugees and guided numerous other humanitarian and educational projects like digging wells for clean drinking water and irrigation, building and supplying hospitals and clinics, and donating resources to widows.”

UN: Nuclear Weapons Illegal as well as Immoral

— Garry Thomas

At his sentencing on October 15, in Federal Court in Brunswick, Georgia, Kings Bay Plowshares activist Patrick O’Neill told Judge Lisa Godbey Wood: “This court, by its refusal to consider the lawlessness of weapons of mass destruction, is essentially declaring the end of the world to be acceptable.”

Just days later, on October 24, Honduras became the 50th nation to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, this the threshold that was required in order for the treaty to become international law. The law requires signatories never “to develop, test, produce, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It is important that the treaty calls for the prohibition of nuclear weapons rather than merely their non-proliferation. Plowshares activists, who have long felt the United States’ possession of a nuclear arsenal to be illegal as well as immoral, will soon have the backing of the United Nations.  The treaty goes into effect on January 22, 2021.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its “ground-breaking efforts” to achieve this very treaty to prohibit such weapons. Local Back from the Brink activists brought Dr. Ira Helfand, a member of ICAN’s International Steering Committee and co-chair of the International Physicians for Social Responsibility to Ithaca in March 2019. He ended his presentation at St John’s Episcopal Church saying, “It is not helpful to think, as a large percentage of the US population does, ‘In my heart I don’t believe it can happen here,’ and then go about our daily lives. That is what happened during the Holocaust ‘when it did happen here’.” Since his Ithaca visit, Helfand has added his name to the global petition to drop the charges against the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 alongside more than 100 other notables.

Ira Helfand commended Back from the Brink as the type of initiative that is required, saying “It is parallel to the Green New Deal in importance.” Four states and 50 cities and towns in the US, including the City of Ithaca (2018) and the Town of Lansing (2019), have adopted resolutions supporting Back from the Brink’s policy solutions: renounce first use; end sole authority of the president to order a nuclear attack; end hair-trigger alert; cancel enhanced weapons’ development; and press more nations to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Significantly, none of the countries possessing nuclear weapons – the US, Russia, UK, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – have signed the treaty. However, in a statement following Honduras’ becoming a signatory, ICAN said: “States that haven’t joined the treaty will feel its power too – we can expect companies to stop producing nuclear weapons and financial institutions to stop investing in nuclear weapon-producing companies.”

Our work is not done.

This article was first published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Magnificat, the Ithaca Catholic Worker community newsletter.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance


Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 6:00 pm (EDT)

  • Around the Peace Pole in front of the Friends Center for Racial Justice (FCRJ), 227 North Willard Way (please wear a mask and social distance)

There has been a tradition of Friends and others to take time to remember the dropping of the first atomic bombs in 1945 on Hiroshima (August 6) and on Nagasaki Japan (August 9) with a silent vigil around the Peace Pole in front of the Friends Center for Racial Justice (FCRJ). This year marks the 75th anniversary of these bombings. This is a vigil of mindfulness and remembrance of the thousands of persons who were killed 75 years ago at the instant of the blasts, those who later died from their injuries, and those who suffered from their injuries. 

We are proceeding with plans to vigil together in a blended manner. Some Friends will meet in person around the Peace Pole at the FCRJ and socially distance so that those in attendance can feel safe while being apart and wearing a mask.  Some Friends will join via Zoom (link below). If you plan on attending this Vigil in person, please e-mail Elizabeth Schneider to reserve a seat.