Saving Aesha, Saving Afghanistan

Watch this inspiring story about Aesha, the young woman from Afghanistan, who became the “face” of Taliban brutality in Afghanistan when her disfigured face was displayed on the cover of an August 2010 issue of Time magazine.

The CNN video is about Aesha’s life with an Afghan-American family in Frederick, Maryland.  Her caregivers consider her a daughter but as they point out in the piece, she has a very long journey of recovery.  She is enthusiastically learning English and has the well wishes of everyone around the world who see her as a symbol of overcoming the worst brutality and doing so in such a public forum.  I hope that Aesha can handle all the media scrutiny and not get lost in her celebrity.  She has now begun reconstructive surgery, a difficult process that will likely take the next two years.  You can read about her progress here.

I bring this video to you as a source of inspiration for a country that continues to occupy the world’s attention.  On July 8, 2012, the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan promised $16 billion in ODA (official development assistance) for Afghanistan.  The aid package for Afghanistan was announced as yet another horrific news story emerged this week of a 22-year-old woman shot in public for an accusation of adultery.  Her life was ended in less than an hour as a result of a dispute between two Taliban commanders who claim that she was sexually involved with both of them.  To settle the dispute, they decided to execute her in front of hundreds of cheering Taliban fighters.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this about the Tokyo conference aid package:

Let me emphasize that the United States believes strongly that no nation can achieve sustainable peace, reconciliation, stability, and economic growth if half the population is not empowered.  All citizens need to have the chance to benefit from and contribute to Afghanistan’s progress, and the United States will continue to stand strongly by the women of Afghanistan.

As a public speaker I love words, but words alone will not save Afghanistan.  I wonder if these billions of dollars in aid to Afghanistan will improve the status of women and girls in a country where they continue to be singled out for discrimination at best and public execution at worst.  My faith is not in the Afghanistan government but rather the collective efforts of human rights workers and global citizens who demand action against the Taliban and their supporters who continue to terrorize their own people.