Whats Been Happinging

Dear Friends,

My life has taken many turns in the last 6 months. My mother died peacefully after 97 years of a full life. My family has been involved with taking care of her estate, a large house that has been in the family for 168 years full of “old things”. I am not going to try to catch you up all at once.  I just wanted to share some up coming events.

You are invited to a multimedia showing of some of my recent work

Thursday October 22, 2015 at 6 pm  at the Marketplace at Sweater Venture

700 Columbia Turnpike

East Greenbush, New York

Honduras: Aid to a Mountain Village

Mobil health clinic in a rural mountain school in La Laguna

Mobil health clinic in a rural mountain school in La Laguna

Please call if you can, to let Dan at the Sweater Venture know you will be coming.  518-477-9317

I will be returning with NY/Help to Honduras in January.  I am currently working to see if I can help develop a self sustaining sewing project for some of the women throughout the province.

As some of you may know I went to Uganda last March.  Jajja’s Kids, Inc. a small nonprofit all volunteer organization that provides 17 street children with a home, food, medical care and education in Kampala, Uganda.  We are having our Annual fundraise on November 5th, 2015.  Our Goal is to raise the funds for next years rent due in January, plus the school fees for all 17 boys.

Jajja’s Kids Invites You to
Our 4th Annual Party
Thursday, November 5  ~  6 to 9 pm
Revolution Hall
425 River Street, Troy NY
With a Roaring 20’s Theme, 
We will Dance to the Music of the Nisky Dixie Cats 
and Dress in the Style of the Era (optional)
The evening includes:
Appetizers, Buffet Dinner, Cash Bar
Auction of Unique Items
and Special Recognitions
$75 per person ($50 deductible)
Please RSVP by Nov. 1 – JajjasKidsRSVP@gmail.com
Purchase Tickets In Advance using PayPal at 
or Send a check to Jajja’s Kids, PO Box 1425, Latham NY 12110 

The Role of Women during Periods of Political Change

Dear Friends you are invited to the following event:

I am very honored to be representing the women I have met in Afghanistan and speaking of my experiences.

April 28th | 6:30 pm

Join us for a Panel Discussion

International Perspectives:

The Role of Women during Periods of Political Change 

Qandygul after double cataract surgery at five or six years old.

Qandygul after double cataract surgery at five or six years old.

In light of the recent Russian/Ukrainian conflict in Crimea, the Fellows are hosting a panel discussion on the role of women in influencing international and domestic societal change during periods of political transformation.

Although developed in response to the situation in Crimea, this panel discussion will also feature speakers on this topic as it relates to Africa, the United States, and the countries involved in the Arab Spring Uprisings.

The panel will feature the following speakers and experts:

Dean Penelope Andrews, Albany Law School
Author of
“From Cape Town to Kabul: Rethinking Strategies for Pursuing Women’s Human Rights.”

Dr. Iris Berger, University at Albany Vincent O’Leary Professor of History

Connie Frisbee Houde, Global Photojournalist and active member in Women Against War

James Ketterer, Bard College Globalization and International Affairs Program, Middle Eastern Studies, Political Studies
Director of International Academic Initiatives at the Center for Civic Engagement. Senior Fellow at the Institute for International Liberal Education.

Dr. Nadieszda Kizenko, University at Albany Professor of Russian History and Culture 

Monday April 28, 2014  6:30 pm

200 Miline, Rockefeller College University at Albany Downtown Campus

Suggested Entry Donation $10

Students $5

(More if you can/ Less if you can’t)

Khaled Hosseini speaks at Saratoga Reads


Last night we had the privilege to meet Khaled Hosseini who was interviewed by Joe Dohahue at the Arthur Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College. He was sponsored as a part of the Saratoga Reads program which selected And The Mountains Echoed as the book for the 10th year. A fitting selection considering that The Kite Runner had been chosen as the first book for the program.  I was pleasantly surprised at how unassuming he is.  He spoke about how he works to write noting how The Kite Runner was clamoring to be written in contrast to the more difficult writing of his next two books.

To me, Hosseini has opened many people around the world through his fiction to who the Afghan people are, bringing into our livingrooms the characters in his stories which represent real people and situations in Afghanistan.  He spoke of being hopeful after the elections that took place yesterday.  Reports are that over 60% of the population turned out to vote even with the threat of death and destruction from the Taliban.


My husband and I waited to get books signed after he spoke. In my excitement of meeting him and giving him one of my business cards mentioning that I have traveled to Afghanistan and hope to return I forgot that I was going to give him my blue Borderfree scarf from the Afghan Peace Volunteers.  http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/borderfree/



As these Afghan youth work for peace in their journey to smile they have created blue scarfs with ‘borderfree’ in English and ‘bedun-e-marz’ which is ‘without borders’ in Dari. In their words, “Borderfree is our collective wish as a human family to relate and work with one another in solidarity under the same blue sky, organizing ourselves as a strong 99%, free of borders so as to take care of our earth, build socio-economic equality for all, and abolish war.”   http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/borderfree/  I had purchased the scarf from Kathy Kelly from Voices of Creative Nonviolence  http://vcnv.org  when she was recently here in Albany.  Both my husband and friends encouraged me to go back up and give him the scarf…so I did. From the brief description I shared, he was touched and said he would treasure it.  So a bit of Afghanistan has now gone full circle and returned to one of Afghanistan’s own.

It was a humbling experience to let the Afghan Peace Volunteers voice be heard in this setting.



Afghanistan_Connie_Frisbee_Houde_IDinner at Istanblue and a
Movie at Saratoga Film Forum

Sunday, March 30th

Make it a date night!

Saratoga Reads presents View from a Grain of Sand
A film by Meena Nanji USA
Documentary: 58 minutes, 2006

Sunday, March 30 at the Saratoga Film Fourm
320 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY

Three Afghan women tell how international interventions, war, and the rise of political Islam, has stripped Afghan women of basic rights.

AWARD: Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary Silver Conch, International Documentary Feature 2008
AWARD: Canada International Film Festival Best Documentary 2007
AWARD: Seattle South Asian Festival Audience Award, Best Feature Documentary 2007

Tickets: $5 for Saratoga Film Forum members, $7 non-members

Pre-screening presentation with photojournalist Connie Frisbee Houde begins at 7:30 PM. Houde traveled to Afghanistan five times between 2003-2010 and will share her Afghan images and experiences with the audience.

View From A Grain Of Sand Official Site
Pre-Movie Dinner at Istanblue Mediterranean Cusine
68 Congress St.(Congress Plaza)
Saratoga Springs, NY

Chef Emrah has prepared a Prix Fixe Menu for this event- $35 per person (value $50) includes:
Appetizer platter: hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, pita, stuffed grape leaves
Choice of entrée: Moussaka, chicken or lamb Adana, Vegetable sauté
Choice of Turkish coffee or dessert (Kadayif).

Make reservations 48 hrs prior to event (581-0181), mention and “Saratoga Reads” to get our special Prix Fixe menu.

Please note: Istanblue Restaurant has No liquor license; You may bring your own, corkage fee applies.

Bring book clubs, family, friends and savor foods
from the regions in our documentary.


Exhibit Saratoga Art Center February and March

Shahr-e-Nau Park, Kabul, Afghanistan 2003

Shahr-e-Nau Park, Kabul, Afghanistan 2003

Since we have been having a number of winter snow storms, I thought that this image from my first visit to Afghanistan in February of 2003 would be appropriate.  It brings back fond memories of how safe I felt when I finally ventured out of our guest house door on my own discovering the city in the beauty of a covering of snow.  I don’t think the locals would have seen it that way as they were shoveling the heavy snow off the flat roofs that couldn’t hold the weight much less the dripping of the wet through the not so sound roofs.

I also remember how worried I was for my husband who was in New York City protesting going to war in Iraq.  There I was in Kabul worrying about his safety in New York. How Ironic?

If you would like to see this image and others from my five trips to Afghanistan beginning with the trip in 2003 and my last trip in 2010, they can be seen at the Saratoga Arts Center, 320 Broadway, saratoga Springs, New York.  They will be on display the Month of February and March. The gallery hours are: 9am – 5pm M-F, Saturday 11am – 5pm, and when the Film Forum is operating. Please check the Film Forum schedule.  http://www.saratogafilmforum.org

Shah-e-Doh Shamahira Mosque or "The Mosque of the King of Two Swords" was built in the 1920's during Amanullah's rule and drive for modernization.

Shah-e-Doh Shamahira Mosque or “The Mosque of the King of Two Swords” was built in the 1920’s during Amanullah’s rule and drive for modernization.

I also will be showing a multi media show of more work when the Film Forum will be showing A View From a Grain of Sand March 30th 7:30pm. I will also facilitate a discussion of the film after the showing.

These activities are taking place because Saratoga Reads is celebrating its 10th year with the reading of Khaled Hosseini’s third book And the Mountains Echoed.  The first year the Kite Runner had been chosen at that time I participated in a multiple week program for the Academy for Lifelong Learning.  A memorable experience because my step-son was severely injured in Iraq the day before I was to present. I decided to continue and learned in the middle of my presentation that his vital signs had improved after multiple surgeries and 52 units of blood and he would be coming home.  Ten years later Matt is very much alive and has become a physical therapist for the navy.  He is one of the lucky ones who has made a life for himself.  This year I will also be presenting for the first session of Revisiting Afghanistan a program being presented to the Academy for Lifelong Learning. http://www.esc.edu/media/esc-foundation/all/ALL-Spring-2014-Brochure.pdf

Orphan 2003. As a result of 30 years of war, there are many orphanages in Afghanistan filled with children, many who have no parents or have been placed in the orphanage by a widowed mother who can't take care of them. With few jobs a valuable to women, they often have no other recourse.

Orphan 2003. As a result of 30 years of war, there are many orphanages in Afghanistan filled with children, many who have no parents or have been placed in the orphanage by a widowed mother who can’t take care of them. With few jobs a valuable to women, they often have no other recourse.

So you can see I continue to speak and present concerning Afghanistan.  I do hope that you will have a chance to see the exhibit or come to one of the programs.

Afghan Youth Orchestra in Carnegie Hall

Tuesday last week I traveled from Albany to New York City to see/hear the Afghan Youth Orchestra with two young Afghans and their Mother/caretaker while they are in the US going to school. We arrived found parking and wondered around Times Square until it was time to attend the concert.  All of us had been anticipating this day since we had decided to come.

Lynne, Qil, and Marsella on Times Square.

Lynne, Aqil, and Mursal on Times Square.

The story of the Orchestra is remarkable. As the Minister of Education His Excellency Faroq Wardak stated, “Music is in our past, our present and our future.” One of the tragedy’s of Afghan history was the destruction of all musical instruments and means of playing music by the Taliban who mistakenly believe that music is unIslamic. Dr. Ahman Sarmast who had emigrated to Australia began a systematic revival of Afghan Music returning to Kabul to develop the The Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM).  The school located in Kabul is “committed to providing a dynamic, challenging, and safe learning environment for all students, regardless of gender , ethnicity, or social circumstances. ANIM focusses on supporting the most disadvantaged group in Afghan society — the orphans and street-working children– by helping them attain a vocation that will allow them to reach their full potential, while contributing to their emotional health.”

The concert was two days before Valentines days so it was interesting attempting to describe the holiday and all the roses in the flower markets and heart decorations.

Valentines Day decorations.

Valentines Day decorations.

As we waited for the concert to begin we made contact with a women sitting behind us who had taught William Harvey the conductor who had been a Juilliard student. The concert began with a number of very traditional Afghan Folk tunes played by a number of the Afghan traditional stringed instruments. These students set on low carpet-covered platforms playing in the traditional style featuring both girls and boys.

The traditional instrument ensemble.

The traditional instrument ensemble.

Aqil, who I sat next to, recited the words to the tunes as I asked what the meaning was of the music. The first was a love song for Afghanistan and the second a love song for a woman.  The instruments ranged from the sitar in the center, rubab on the left, tabla (percussion) behind, ghichak on the right, and sarod, tanbur and dilruba in between.  I was told by both the young Afghans that there was one instrument not represented.

The two remarkable pieces that they played were Ravel’s Bolero and an adaptation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, The Four Seasons of Afghanistan.  It really was sweet to read the notes and realize just how much of the culture I have absorbed through the years and the depth of the four seasons.

Here is the New York Times review of the concert.


Taking the final bow.

Taking the final bow.

After the concert, Aqil and Mursal wanted to met the Afghan students so we found our way to the back stage door and waited. Aqil dressed in traditional Afghan dress was often mistaken for one of the orchestra.  Please if you wish to know more about the Afghan youth orchestra and their journey and hear some of their music follow the following videos:

Ravel’s Bolero

Here is the ending piece for peace that they also played as an encore.

I do hope that you enjoy the gift these young musicians share with us.

Dreaming of Peace for these young people,


Exhibition:Debunking the Myth of Voodoo and Slavery: A Journey in West Africa

Dear Friends,

The exhibition of 34 images is now hanging on the Walls in the Yates gallery. I invite you if you can to visit the Siena College Library to view the work.  The invitation and information concerning the show will follow.  We had –according to my husband Frank’s count– we had almost 80 people attend.  The gallery director, Sergio Sericolo who was a pleasure to work with, noted that they had never had as many people to an opening. So thank you all for coming.

The long expansive wall of photographs.

The long expansive wall of photographs.

Unfortunately I did not have anyone taking pictures of the reception and gallery talk.  I am delighted that I have a SUNY photo journalism class coming for a walk through and a Siena class concerning Arts and activism also coming for a gallery walk through.  If you would also like to bring a group for a walk through please contact me and I will help make the necessary arrangements.  I do hope that many of you will make it to the exhibit and I would love to hear your comments.

Connie Houde-1

I am very excited about the new work and can see the growth that I have made since my last trip to West Africa.  It is a good feeling when I can say that about my own work particularly when I am the most critical viewer.

As always, in gratitude,