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  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,


The Well Has Been Built!

Dear friends,

The exciting news is that the well was built in Mir Taqi Shah in June in time for the planting season.  Fahima Vorgetts, from Women for Afghan Women and the Afghan Women’s Fund wrote in her most recent Newsletter of her  experiences in June.

Hooking up the generator to the well head.

“In Mir Taqi Shah we dug a well for irrigation and clean water with the help and sponsorship of Women against War in Albany, New York.  The AWF and villagers are most grateful to this organization. A donated generator will pump the well water.”

The dome for school rooms being assembled.

Fahima continues, “We also built three fiberglass dome buildings to use as a school. the domes measure 19 feet by 19 feet and will accommodate 30 students.  We provided school supplies for 150 girls and over 50 women. The domes will be the first girls’ school of this village. The women are eager to form their own shora but for now they are coming to literacy classes.  The domes will also accommodate the new shora.”

Woman against the War continues to raise funds for Mir Taqi Shah and will be hosting several events in October.  The funds will be used to continue the women’s literacy program as well as begin a women’s shora or coop to help them develop economically meeting their request.   Watch for information concerning these events in future entries.

In gratitude for all your support,


Well is being built!

Two days ago I received a short email from Fahima Vorgetts our “on the ground” project coordinator. I wish to share what she has to say:

I am in Afghanistan. Went to Mir Taqi Shah [“our” village] twice so far.  The well has started to be built.  I am starting literacy classes for women. Yesterday, went and took school supplies for 300 women and girls.  There is no girls school yet but we are starting it.  The preliminary work is being done just waiting yo find a better place to rent for now. As of today, their classes will operate in a doctor’s home who rented us three rooms. I am using the $ that I raised for the school in Laghman. The Laghman school is being built by the government and another funder which makes me very happy.




Fahima Vorgetts smiling while speaking to students at Union College.


I am left with some extra $ that I’ll use for many women shoras [cooperative] and schools.

I [Connie] am humbled that we have made such a strong start!  I will be traveling with Fahima to visit the village in August and will document the progress.

We have another fundraiser for the Afghan Well Project coming up May 16th.  So please consider coming and supporting this project!

invites you to a special benefit performance of
Albany Civic Theater’s production of the American Classic

OUR TOWN by Thornton Wilder

Sunday evening, May 16th at 8:00 pm


“In this moment when the world is fractured by hate, fear and violence, it is critical that we tell stories that reveal our connectedness, not our isolation and our. . . responsibility to one another . . .” Critic Anna D. Shapiro on Wilder’s Our Town.

Ticket donation:  $12 – 20

Afghan delicacies and silent auction starts @7:00 pm in lobby of ACT

Help us support the lives of the 120 families who live in the Afghan village of Mir Taqi Shah whose hopes and dreams are as precious as ours. Let’s help them rebuild the infrastructure of their lives which has been destroyed by decades of war.  Proceeds from this life-affirming play will go to the Women Against War Afghan Well Project. or

Albany Civic Theatre, 235 Second Avenue , Albany, NY

Directions are available at:

For tickets:

Call Box Office reservations:  518-462-1297

Ask for special benefit performance, May 16 @ 8:00 pm


WAW ticket sales coordinator: Barbara Spring, 518-772-2290,

On another note I leave with a colleague for France in a couple of hours.  We are lucky to have a day in Paris before we head to the village of Oradour to inspect, pack and crate the NYS Museum’s collection of World Trade Center objects that have been on exhibit there for the past two years.

Fahima Vorgetts Returns to the Capital District

Women Against War is bringing back Fahima Vorgetts to speak at more Capital District locations. Please come hear Fahima talk about the impact of the US military occupation and her development work in Afghanistan – including the Afghan Well Project to bring clean drinking water & irrigation to the village of Mir Taqi Shah, for which Women Against War is raising the needed $10,000.

Fahima in Afghanistan.

All events free and open to the public.

Opportunities to donate to the Afghan Well Project, postcards for Congress & literature will be available.

Women Against War sponsors:
Fahima Vorgetts of Women for Afghan Women Speaking with Slides

Sunday, March 7, 2010
12:30-1:15 PM Afghanistan’s Heartbreak,
Afghanistan’s Hope. Islamic Center of the
Capital District, 21 Lansing Rd, Schenectady.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
12:50-1:45 PM Afghanistan’s Heartbreak,
Afghanistan’s Hope. Pizza & Politics series.
Union College, Social Science104.

7:00 PM Mercy Center, 310 So. Manning Blvd.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 7:30 PM.
The Plight of Women in the Afghan War.
University at Albany, Humanities, Rm. 137.
Co-sponsored by Women’s Studies/IRO, UUP & Women Against War.

Fahima Vorgetts, an Afghan-American from Maryland, fled Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion. Fahima has dedicated her life’s work to improving the conditions of women in her native country. She spent May 2009 in Afghanistan, where she travels several times each year.

Fahima has been involved in other well projects, opening new schools for girls and literacy classes for women, creating income-generating projects for widows, and arranging for the shipment of medical and school supplies and clothing to refugees.

Fahima has addressed the United Nations and traveled widely speaking at university conferences and religious organizations, appeared on many television and radio programs, including the BBC and NPR and been featured in articles in the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post.

Fahima is the winner of several awards from peace and human rights organizations. She is an inspiring, charismatic speaker who possesses wisdom on the realities in Afghanistan and recommendations on how the US should and should not be involved.

For information: 518-426-0710

Opening Reception and kick off for The Afghan Well Project

Exciting news!!  Global Village Photographer has teamed up with Fahima Vorgetts (Afghan Women’s Fund under Women for Afghan Women) and the capital region Women Against War to build a clean water well in Mir Tagi Shah, a village south of Kabul.  [see Times Union Article] In building a well we are addressing one of the underlying causes of the Afghan humanitarian crises rather than relying on a military solution to the problems.  This is a more effective way to address the deep-rooted and multi-faceted problems inherent in war-torn areas.  I am excited because theAFGHAN WELL PROJECT offers a long-term solution to create human security for the Afghan people in Mir Tagi Shah. Click on the following colored text to see The Afghan Well Project brochure.  You may also print this brochure to pass to people who might be interested in supporting the project.

Fahima, an Afghan American, has raised funds to build wells, clinics and schools in villages in Afghanistan.  It is Fahima’s memories of her early years living in Afghanistan that prompt her to dedicate her life to improving the plight of women in her native country. In her own words, “Afghanistan haunts me. It is my country and my heart breaks for my sisters who undergo daily oppression and hardship there. My passion and life’s work is to reclaim and rebuild the country so that women can be free and equal and can live a life of dignity, literacy, and financial stability.”

Fahima speaking at FUUSA in December 2009

Fahima came to the Albany area in December of 2009 sponsored by WAW and spoke at some of the local colleges (Saint Rose, Siena, Russel Sage) and at public meetings.  She was a guest at Frank’s and my house during this time. Over many cups of tea, we discussed the problems in Afghanistan, focusing on the needed solutions. Both of us cried for our love for the Afghan women and for our frustration that we were not seeing more progress. Not being able to sleep one night after one of these discussions, combined with what I have seen and learned as I have traveled in Afghanistan, it became clear to me that here was where we needed to place our energy…. the actual on-the-ground assistance to Afghan citizens.  From this midnight dreaming the Afghan Well Project was born.

Fahima approaches a community, meeting with the village elders to determine what they need and want. These projects are carried out cooperatively with the village elders deciding priorities and by using village members to work on the projects. In this way they take ownership, thus protecting their own investment. For any of you who have listened to or read Greg Mortenson’s Tree Cups of Tea or Stones into Schools you understand what he has learned and how he has become so successful with his projects in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Greg was interviewed recently by Bill Moyers and speaks very eloquently about his work  [] Fahima is no different in her approach and has successfully built a number of schools. Visit her Valley Caravan Gallery web site to learn more about her work.

We will be kicking off fund raising for the Afghan Well Project at the reception for my current photography exhibition.

Afghanistan Revisited

Photographs taken in September/October 2009

Internally displaced women working in her tent home sewing to earn money to feed her family.

Opening Reception and Kick off for The Afghan Well Project

Friday, February 19, 2010         5:30 to 9pm

See the photos:
February 7- February 28, 2010
Hours: Mon- Fri 9:00am – 4:00pm
Sunday 9:00am – noon

Forum presentation February 21 11:45

First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany
405 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY

I will be bringing  to this reception additional photographs taken during this last visit to Afghanistan that will be available to purchase to support this project. There will be note cards from around the world, photographs from previous trips to Afghanistan and a few silk scarfs and bags embroidered by Afghan women for sale as well.  Another piece of the Afghan Well Project will be for me to travel with Fahima to Mir Tagi Shah to document the village and  the building of the well. I will record interviews with villagers and return to this village periodically to see the results of the well and work toward other projects that may be needed by this village such as a health clinic, a women’s cooperative and a school for girls and boys. Up dates will be given in multi-media presentations as the project progress.

Fahima Vorgetts will be returning to the capital district area to assist with raising $10,000 for the well in the beginning of March. As we firm up her schedule I will be posting dates for events.