Saturday, November 7, 2009

Afghan Hands

My friend Matin Maulawizada started an organization some time ago called Afghan Hands ( I have put an explantation of who they are below. They are a finalist in the BBC's World Challenge 2009, which awards an organization that has "shown enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level." I have been aware of Matin's project for several years now and cannot imagine anyone who would deserve it more. Afghan Hands definitely deserves to be recognized for its work in helping Afghan women.

If you would, take a moment and Please vote for them here:

On the organization's website, which I think states their goals and purpose beautifully, I found the following Mission Statement:

"Afghan Hands teaches skills to help Afghan widows gain independence, literacy, and a livable wages. At our centers in and around Kabul, women learn to create embroidered shawls and scarves, and the exquisite embroidery they make connects them to a wider world.

The centers are places to gather, study, and work. We pay the women to attend classes in the morning and embroider in the afternoon. Without this project, they could not educate themselves. Through Afghan Hands, they leave the walls of their compounds and attend seminars on basic human, legal, and religious rights. They prepare for work as free women do elsewhere in the world. This way, no one will ever imprison them in the name of law, honor, or religion.

We are a nonprofit organization. We are also linked to the Mirmon Orphanage. Our mutual efforts keep expenses as low as possible so that the funds we raise go to women and children.

In the future, we hope to establish small parks and playgrounds for children who now live in areas devastated by wars, drought, and environmental damage. We envision green havens where words of encouragement and hope are shared.

For now, Afghan women, by their own hands, are transforming their lives. This is our mission. Thank you for your interest in them and in their one-of-a-kind handmade pieces."

Please vote here:

If you could spread the word about the vote that would be great! The voting ends November 13th!

Life in the "Real World" and my newfound obsession with Podcasts!

So I moved into an apt with Tyler about the time that I wrote my last blog entry. It's pretty nice here because there are views of the river and there are some cool trails where I can let Hanz run around and be his cute self. My computer completely died just after my last blog post but Tyler gave me his older Mac bc he got the new MacBook Pro. So the conversion from PC to Mac-user begins! :)

It was very difficult to find work here in Missoula, unfortunately, but I was glad to find some seasonal work at a local plant nursery that has a wreath and christmas tree business in the fall and winter. It's working out really well because I get to make some money, learn how to make wreaths, and I also can take a month to go back home to New York to visit my family and friends. I am so excited! It's so beautiful here in Montana and Missoula is a great town but it is a very difficult transition moving away from all of my family directly out of college, coinciding with the time that I buy my first car, start paying student loans, and no longer have health insurance! Oy! Well, luckily my parents are helping me out with the insurance angle... thanks Mom and Dad! Even still, sometimes the reality of being a "grown-up" feels like a slap in the face. As if with my graduating from college, where I studied environmental issues, I'm supposed to automatically switch to being a fully functional adult who understands all the mumbo-jumbo jargon associated with credit cars, insurance, liability, energy bills, etc. all while facing numerous ethical and philosophical quandaries and trying to figure out how to best spend the hours that make up the days that make up the years that make up my life. I went from the routine of school starting every autumn and ending every summer and then beginning again for 22 years and now that I don't have something that I know I have to do at a certain time of the year my life just feels very unstructured. It can get very overwhelming but I'm trying to piece things together a little at a time. I'm interested in doing SO many things with my life that the more I try to figure out what I want to "be when I grow up," the more cool occupations I discover, the more confused I become! So I think I'm ready for that clarity thats supposed to come along (hint, hint to the higher power!)

Since I've been making wreaths now for 3 weeks I've become pretty adept at it and definitely came to need some more intellectual stimulation. My iPod joined my computer in the grave but once again Tyler came to the rescue and gave me an iPod shuffle and I have pumped that little baby full of podcasts galore! OH MY GAWD the world of Podcasts has been opened to me! I don't have a tv or radio but I can listen to all of the NPR and PRI programs I could ever want to through the podcasts they produce.

My favorite podcasts so far are:

PRI's How We Got Here
(created by Jeb Sharp who is an amazing reporter/ interviewer with the BBC. Check her out more at:

The World

The Changing World
(I haven't listened to the most current ones which are about the financial crisis, even thought I'm sure they are very enlightening, because I'm just sick of hearing about it. I like to sum up the explanation of why the crisis happened very simply in one word: GREED. Thats all I'm saying on that subject!)

NPR's Car Talk
These guys realllly know what they are talking about plus they're HILARIOUS

NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!
If you haven't heard this classic before, do yourself a favor and give it a listen :)

I discovered these in podcast form last week and I have probably averaged about 5 per day so every night when I come home I'm just bursting with new-found knowledge that I just want to spew out so I'll remember it! "How We Got Here" is especially awesome because it takes a current event and it looks at the history behind it to give a more well-rounded explanation or understanding of it. It's a brilliant idea and Jeb Sharp is always coming up with fascinating stories and interviews to share.