Bamiyan Panorama

Bamiyan Panorama

Monday, December 31, 2012

ARZU 2012 highlights

A weaver's hand, decorated in henna, runs through the loom.

The ARZU preschool class smiles for the camera in the Women's Community Center courtyard in Bamyan

The completed stage and bandstand in the newly constructed ARZU Community Field and Family Park in Bamyan. The Second Vice President of Afghanistan used this stage to speak to the Afghan people. (October 2012

ARZU weaver Firoza smiles while holding her son

Construction on the second ARZU Women's Community Center in Shashpul.

A young girl in ARZU's preschool asks her teacher a question during class

Two girls laugh together at the ARZU Garden Center playground.

Arzu, which means “hope” in Dari, is an innovative model of social entrepreneurship to help Afghan women weavers & their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them steady income & access to education.
ARZU STUDIO HOPE's mission is to create economic sustainability for global communities in need.
Company Overview
ARZU, which means “hope” in Dari, is an innovative model of social entrepreneurship that helps Afghan women weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them steady income and access to education and healthcare by sourcing and selling the rugs they weave. While structured as a 501(c)(3) in the United States and an international NGO in Afghanistan, ARZU operates as a “” corporation, using private sector practices to create jobs in desperately poor rural villages where little opportunity exists.

Following its fifth anniversary in June 2009, ARZU evolved to grow as a more global brand called, ARZU STUDIO HOPE.

ARZU STUDIO HOPE continues to support a holistic approach to sustainable poverty alleviation achieved through artisan-based employment that empowers women. Women, earning fair labor wages, weave exquisite hand-knotted rugs at home. Innovative social benefit practices drive transformational change by providing grassroots access to vital education, healthcare, clean water and sustainable community development programs.

US couple missing in Afghanistan

Pregnant US woman Caitlan Coleman missing in Afghanistan with husband

Caitlan Coleman (right)  

The family of a pregnant American woman missing with her husband in Afghanistan have made a fresh appeal for her safe return.

Caitlan Coleman, 27, is due to give birth in January and needs urgent medical attention, her father told the Associated Press news agency.

James Coleman said she had been travelling with her Canadian husband across Central Asia.

There are fears they were abducted, but no ransom has been demanded.

No militant group has said it is holding the couple and AP says when it contacted the Taliban two months ago, a spokesman said no Taliban members were involved.

The couple last contacted their family on 8 October from what Mr Coleman described as an "unsafe" part of Afghanistan.

It is not clear how they entered Afghanistan and what exactly they were doing there - they had also travelled through Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Mr Coleman adds that his daughter needs medical care for a liver ailment.

"Our goal is to get them back safely and healthy," the father told AP. "I don't know what kind of care they're getting or not getting...we're just an average family and we don't have connections with anybody and we don't have a lot of money."

One Afghan official contacted by AP says the trail has gone cold, after initially suggesting that they may have been abducted in Wardak province in an area about 25 miles (40km) west of the capital Kabul.

But there has been no independent confirmation of this - at the time the couple went missing officials in Wardak told BBC Afghan that they had no information about them.

The US State Department and Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry say they are looking into the disappearance, AP says.

Correspondents say that the kidnapping of foreigners has become relatively common in parts of Afghanistan since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

Earlier this month an American doctor who had been abducted by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan was rescued.

Dilip Joseph, of the Morning Star Development aid group, was freed by US and Afghan forces in a joint operation that killed seven of his captors.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Western Plot to Sterilize Muslims!

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Pakistan may be one of the world's three remaining polio-stricken countries but Sartaj Khan has decided that the government-sponsored vaccination campaign is much more sinister than it appears.
“These vaccines are meant to destroy our nation,” said Khan, a 42-year-old lawyer in the city of Peshawar. “The [polio] drops make men less manly, and make women more excited and less bashful. Our enemies want to wipe us out.”
Khan is not alone in the belief, propagated by extremist groups, that is gaining currency in the Pashtun belt of northwestern Pakistan: The government’s anti-polio campaign is a ruse by the Americans to sterilize or spy on Muslims.
Many also believe that much like the Pakistani physician, Dr. Shakeel Afridi, who helped the CIA run a fake vaccination program to establish the presence of Osama bin Laden, the army of health workers employed to vaccinate the country’s children are also on the United States’ payroll.
The belief has turned deadly:  Nine anti-polio workers have been killed by gunmen on motorcycles this week. Some of those killed were teenage girls. Following the violence, the United Nations pulled back all staff involved in the vaccination campaign and officials suspended it in some parts of the country.

There are ranks of parents whose awareness is low and suspicions high when it comes to the deadly virus: A November World Health Organization study found that 41 percent of those polled had never heard of polio  – and 11 percent refused to vaccinate their children.
The reality is that polio can paralyze or kill within hours of infection. It is transmitted person-to-person, meaning that as long as one child is infected, the disease can be passed to others.

Nuclear-armed and militancy-struck Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries still struggling with polio. According to the World Health Organization, there were 213 new cases of polio worldwide in 2012, including 56 in Pakistan.


Polio also disproportionately affects members of the Pashtun population in Pakistan, who largely live in the country's northwest and border region. They account for roughly 15 percent of the population, but 75 percent of all polio cases.
Shamim Bibi, a 25-year-old mother of two who has been working in Peshawar’s suburbs as an anti-polio campaign worker for the last nine years, said she had never before faced hostility in her line of work.
“For years, we were welcomed into homes by families,” she said. “In 2012, attitudes changed. Now, they look at us with a sort of suspicion. Some people have even said it to my face: that I’m an American spy.”
Suspicion of the United States does indeed run deep.  Unknown gunmen may have assassinated 14-year-old anti-polio worker Farzana Rehman in her hometown of Peshawar but her grieving father is placing the blame for her death further afield.

“My daughter was too young to leave this world,” an obviously distraught Said Rehman told NBC News. “Polio didn’t take her. This American war did. So what’s the bigger danger, huh?”
The American war refers to the post-Sept. 11, 2001, violence that has swept Pakistan and Afghanistan, in particular U.S. drone strikes that enrage many.  In parts of Pakistan, the war is also called the Kharji, or “white person's” war.

As experts cite the latest violence as a new form of “low tech, high concept” attacks by Pakistan’s militants, Rehman can only wonder if those trying to stop the disease are missing the point.
“Disease didn’t take my child. A bullet did,” he said.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nadia Sediqqi shot dead on her way to work

Senior female Afghan official shot dead

Waseem Nikzad / AFP - Getty Images
Men prepare to pray during the funeral Monday of Nadia Sediqqi in Mihtarlam, Afghanistan.
Violence against women appears to be on the rise in Afghanistan, which activists and some lawmakers blame on what they say is waning interest in women's rights on the part of President Hamid Karzai's government, claims he denies.
Nadia Sediqqi, acting head of the women's affairs department in Laghman province, was killed as she headed to work in the capital Mehtar Lam, said the provincial governor's spokesman Sarhadi Zwak.
"They shot her as she was getting into a rickshaw," Zwak said of the attack about 93 miles east of Kabul, adding that she worked without bodyguards -- a common situation for female government workers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul condemned the attack.
“This attack, especially on Human Rights Day, shows that those who killed Ms. Siddiqi have no respect for human rights or the safety of the Afghan people,” it said in a statement.
Violence against women
Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and employment since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, but fears are mounting that such freedoms could be traded away as Kabul seeks peace talks with the group.
In a recent interview with NBC News, Afghan President Hamid Karzai denied that violence against women had been on the rise. Instead, he said, incidents of violence were being reported more today than in years past.

“You hear more of violence because there is more awareness of it today because there's more reporting of it today because there is more enforcement of the law against violence today ... not that violence has increased,” he told NBC’s Atia Abawi.
Still, a 2011 poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation judged that Afghanistan was the most dangerous country in the world for women, beating on Congo and Pakistan.
Watch Atia Abawi's full, exclusive interview with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai in which he discusses the "growing perception" that insecurity in the region is caused by the United States and some of its allies who "promoted lawlessness" and "corruption" in Afghanistan.

Predecessor also slain
Sediqqi had replaced Hanifa Safi, who was killed in July by a car bomb that her family blamed on the Taliban.
Women who pursue careers in ultra-conservative Afghanistan often face opposition in a society where often they are ostracized, or worse, for mixing with men other than husbands or relatives.
Safi's son later told Reuters that authorities had ignored repeated requests for protection, echoing greater concerns that the safety of female government workers is not taken seriously by Kabul, despite commitments to better the rights of women 11 years into the NATO-led war.