Children are not born to hate, they learn it in the absence of proper guidance. For decades, unqualified, angry people have set up distorted religious education in a vacuum of proper schools. The poor and marginalized are easy prey for this. Knowledge really is power!
Important and surprising points from her Toledo presentations below left; pictures of the week below right. Click thumbnails to see the whole pictures.
The more books in the home, the better the child’s quality of life
Kids have to be reading before they start school to be really literate. Giving a baby a book to hold makes a difference.
Any society can reduce infant and maternal mortality, birth rate, and violence by educating its girls. One educated girl educates three generations—her mother and her children. Sons will obey mothers who tell them not to join the haters and fighters.
On Living Conditions in Afghanistan and Pakistan
The two countries are the same people – the division into two countries was a “divide and conquer” strategy of the British
Only half of the children of Pakistan ever go to school. Half of those finish 6th grade. Their 6th grade is more like our second grade.
Pakistan has no teacher college – pretty much anyone can read and write can teach.
The average woman in Afghanistan has 7 children, often without medical care. Most women are anemic.
The Taliban had a strict system of rules when they were in power, but now women are often subjected to brutality with no system at all. 80% of women in Afghanistan have recently been subjected to violence. Some girls dress up as boys so they can leave their homes to provide for their families.
Afghanistan is the most dangerous place to be born. One in four Afghan children die before age 5, of mostly curable diseases. The average lifespan is 43 years.
The city of Peshawar has good doctors, but the more rural the area, the rarer good medical care.
Some women and children are forced to smuggle drugs in their bodies
53% of marriages in Afghanistan involve a female partner under age 16
Some parents are desperate enough to survive to sell their children into sexual slavery for forced labor. Even boys are frequently purchased as sex slaves for wealthy lords.
Children are held in forced labor by confinement or debt bondage, but in Afghanistan these are the lucky ones because they have the basic necessities.
The lack of infrastructure – including hospitals – means that people will do anything to survive, and often “whoever has the biggest gun is boss.”
Power is out more often than it is working. Kids are so thirsty for education that they will sit in school in the dark. (Rachel witnessed this.)
On the So-Called Taliban and So-Called Religious Extremists and How they Came to Power
Not all people who are culturally Taliban are terrorists.
The U.S. funded madrassas—schools that taught hate supposedly in the name of Islam—in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the Cold War in order to fight the Russians. The U.S. stirred up Afghan hatred of Russians by portraying the Russians as “godless.” At these schools, children were given basic food and shelter but were abused, and were not taught to read. Rather they were told what the Qur’an (Holy Scripture of Islam) supposedly said. They also never interacted with women. Now these madrassas continue to operate with private Saudi money. Abuse of children is still common.
In 1989 when the U.S. left, Afghanistan was the most armed and mined country in the world
On Media Distortion of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Islam
The Qur’an actually admonishes sons to respect their mothers. (“Heaven is found beneath the souls of your mother’s feet.”) Some Muslim countries, like West Sumatra, are very women-driven and advanced. Even in Pakistan, some educated women have power. Rachel herself has never met anyone who didn’t want their daughter educated. Even the Taliban have asked humanitarians to build schools for their girls.
Most Pakistanis are very hospitable and philanthropic-minded, and most don’t hate Americans. In fact, they attended receptions for Rachel even though bombs were falling in their areas.
Pakistan has 5000 Rotarians
Providing girls a school bus empowers them – sometimes objections to girls going to school are really objections to them traveling alone.
Outsiders cannot come in and build a school. The community has to take ownership of the school.
Providing medicine will not succeed unless you first educate the community so that they want it.
Thursday, October 7: Rachel addressed all 1200 of the students of Perrysburg Junior High School via video Here, Rachel poses with Social Studies teacher Bill Hilt (left, in yellow) and student ambassadors eager to use what they've learned for a service project! Students pictured: Areeb Ahmed (in back), and Jen Hoffman, Sarah Soliman, Genna Liu, and Cigdem Kahyaoglu (left to right in front).
Wednesday, October 6, noon: Maumee Rotary Club (90 members strong, probably 50 in attendance!)
Events not pictured:
Reynolds Corners Rotary Club, Tuesday October 5
Conference on Prostitution and Human Trafficking, (hosted at the University of Toledo by Second Chance), October 7- 8. Rachel's session was Friday afternoon.
Immediately after Rachel's first presentation on the 5th, the leaders of Rotary District 6600 (Ohio and Michigan) called - to invite her to speak at their district conference in April 2011!
Special thanks to the Moellers of Maumee Ohio - James (a Rotarian); Ellen; and their daughter Lizzie - for on short notice hosting Rachel and providing transportation and other necessities as needed! Talk about "Service Above Self.!"
Wednesday, October 6, evening: A presentation at the University of Toledo Law Center, open to the public. Thanks to the International Business Association of UT for making this possible!
Members of the Dosti and Rotary communities joined Dr. Ahmad, Dr. and Mrs. Ali, and Rachel for dinner at the Toledo-area Indian restaurant Tandoor Thursday, Oct 7.