News Update!

Dear Friends,

I seem to tell myself that I am going to make entries on a more regular basis and then time passes. Now I will catch you up, dear readers, with my latest activities.

First during from September 22 to October 28th I have had 50 images at The Basset Gallery at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, a wonderful gallery in Camden, South Carolina. I was chosen to open their season. My husband and I packed up our Prius and Drove stoping to see my Afghan American friend Fahima Vorgetts on the way catching up on her most recent visit to Afghanistan and a followup to Mir Taqui Shah where  together with Women Against War supported the construction of a clean drinking water and irrigation well (see a previous blog entry and more will follow).

As you enter the gallery.

One wall contained images dedicated to Tom Little, who was killed August 5, 2010, and his work for the National Organization for Opthalmic Rehabilitation.

Images of NOOR and Tom Little.

To give some additional ambiance to a sense of Afghanistan I included some dressed dolls and handcrafts made by Afghan women.

A section concerning women.

While I was in Camden I spoke at 5 different schools both middle and High school classes.

Camden High School entrance.

I talked of the culture and the people and my work sharing numbers of my images. The students expressed interest and asked many questions.

Stover Middle School

Camden Middle School showing the students a burka.

Back in Albany I went straight to editing and printing for an exhibition of images from Ghana Good Morning Teacher at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 85 Chestnut Street, Albany, NY. These 41 photos will be on display for the African Family Night, Saturday November 5th from 5 to 8:30.  This is a fundraiser for the African projects that the church supports and there will be a diner of delicious African food. Please contact the church for more information at info@wpcalbany.org.

Opening panel.

Since all my frames where used for the exhibition in South Carolina, I decided to use Rare Earth Magnets and steel tacks to hang the unframed prints, which I think worked quite well for what has been basically a two night show.

The beautiful expressive children.

For the Albany first Friday event the church provided two wonderful musicians.

The next project was working with Women Against War Afghan Committee’s effort to draw attention to the continuation of the occupation of Afghanistan by bringing to the Capital District area an exhibition Windows and Mirrors. In 2009, the American Friends Service Committee seeking contributions for a traveling memorial to Afghan civilians who have died in the war. This community exhibit is a selection of 25 installations of the originals. The war in Afghanistan is now the longest in U.S history, yet for many of us it has been rendered largely invisible. This exhibition is an opening and an invitation to reflect upon the impact of this war on a civilian population caught in the crossfire. For details of the event surrounding these powerful banners check http://www.womenagainstwar.org.  We held a press conference to introduce the banners to the public.

The press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Albany.

This weekend the banners were at the Opalka gallery.

The Opalka Gallery

On October 25 a Peace rally  1oth Anniversary of the US War in Afghanistan. How is the War Economy Working For you?  I read a poem of Nadai Anjumon an Afghan women poet concerning the plight of Afghan women which has not changed and in some areas is the worst that it has been for some time.

Maureen Aumand leading the Grannies for Peace procession.

Grannies for Peace procession.

We were also blessed to have Congressmen Paul Tonko speak and support the effort to end the War in Afghanistan and bring our Troops home.

Congressman Tonko speaking against the War in Afghansitan.

As a last comment I wish to tank my husband who has supported my incredibly involved life and who feeds me both my heart and my belly in between all these events.

Frank Houd and David Easter.

And my dear friend if you have made it to the end of this post I thank you.  Please look for a future entry concerning the progress in the village in Afghanistan which we support and I hope we can continue to support as well as my next exhibit in Elmira, New York in November – Afghan Portraits: Windows to the Soul.

Returning to Afghanistan

© Chimney pots sunset Limoges, France May 2010

I thought I would include this shot taken in France  while I was traveling with a colleague for work to let you all know that Afghanistan is not the only place I travel.  That said I will be returning Monday to Afghanistan for a month.

I have been writing lately of our efforts to build a well in Mir Taqi Shah, a village south of Kabul.  Now that it is up and operational [see previous blog entry] I will be in the village with Fahima Vorgetts (Afghan Women’s Fund) in late August to see first hand the effects of this project.  I will have the privilege and honor of visiting some of Fahima’s other projects around Kabul.

Traveling half way around the world I wanted to have a bit more time in Afghanistan so I contacted my long time friends Tom and Libby Little who have been working in Afghanistan for the past 30 years (National Organization of Ophthalmic Rehabilitation – see previous entries and photo galleries). Before I heard back from Tom and the day before my birthday I received an amazing offer from  Diana Tacey, executive director of ChildLight Foundation for Afghan Children   www.childlightfoundation.org.  I have never met Diana however we have corresponded and talked on the phone.  We discovered we are kindred spirits  who care deeply for the Afghan people wanting to lend a hand assisting them as they work to recover from years of continuing war which has thrust them in to  and keep them in poverty in many places across the country.  She invited me to travel with her in the beginning of August visiting women’s prisons around the country.

I will be adding to this blog from on the road when it is possible to do so.  If you would like to follow our travels please click the “About Connie” in the tool bar at the top of this page, scroll to the bottom and check the  box “subscribe by email to this post”.  I do hope that many of you will join me on this journey.

In gratitude for your love and supporrt,

Connie

Witnessing for Peace

Afghanistan, 2004

One day you see a friend. The next day you see a brother.

I will be returning to Afghanistan September 25, 2009 for almost one month. As with my previous three journeys of discovery since my first encounter in Afghanistan in 2003, I will be witnessing and gathering information from the people I meet concerning the current situation in Afghanistan. It has been almost four years since my last visit to Afghanistan and much as happened in that time. What we hear from the local media and government agencies does not address the everyday lives of the Afghan people. We hear much about the effects of the continuing war and little about the programs and projects that strive to support and assist the day-to-day needs of the Afghan people.

The first part of my journey I will be traveling with a small group from Codepink, a women initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. Codepink rejects foreign policies based on dominance and aggression, and instead calls for policies based on diplomacy, compassion and a commitment to international law with an emphasis on joy and humor. This delegation seeks to enhance understanding of Islam and Afghan culture as well as the role the Afghan people want the U.S. to play building a lasting peace in Afghanistan. Participants will return with a first hand understanding of the political and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and experience the rich cultural heritage kept alive amidst more than thirty years of conflict. I am volunteering my photographic services to this program and will be making a record of our experiences as travel in the country. We will be visiting a women’s hospital and several development projects outside of Kabul. The itinerary has not yet been finalized.

During the second part of this journey I will volunteer my photographic services to National Organization of Ophthalmic Rehabilitation (NOOR), and I will be staying with my dear friends Tom and Libby Little who have spent the past 30 years of their lives working with and developing this program. NOOR has been providing eye care to the people of Afghanistan since 1966 and provides the majority of eye care in the country. The program is involved in all levels of eye care and includes a strong training component. NOOR is a model program of teaching, guiding and empowering the Afghans to develop their own eye care programs throughout the country.

As time and safety allow, I hope to visit some of the programs that have been started by and/or assisted by family and friends of victims from September 11, 2001. They include girl’s schools, orphanages and programs for widow women.

Because of my continued interest in clothing and textiles I hope to visit some of the women and men as they carryout their traditional handcrafts of embroidery and carpet weaving. This will be combined with a visit to the Turquoise Mountain Foundation’s Center of Traditional Afghan Arts and Architecture where master craftsmen train the next generation of artisans in woodworking, calligraphy, and ceramics.

Each of these interests fit together as a jigsaw puzzle to inform of the current conditions. My heart will be open to learn from the unexpected.

The cost of this fast approaching journey­— fees, airfare, photo equipment and supplies, housing, food, local transport and translators — is approximately $5,000.

I would be grateful for any sort of contribution, large or small, whether money and / or prayers. I welcome your suggestions about making this journey. You can also help by organizing a showing of a digital multimedia presentation or photographic exhibition after I return this winter or in the spring. Please visit my web site (www.globalvillagephotographer.com) for examples of my photography and writings concerning Afghanistan. As the conditions allow I will be writing a blog while I am traveling (globalvillagephotographer.blogspot.com).

Donations can be sent to Connie Frisbee Houde, 22 Elm Street Albany, New York 12202 and/or look for an announcement concerning a fundraising event in mid September that will include the sale of my note cards and an auction of some of my Afghan photographs.

In gratitude,

Connie Frisbee Houde

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