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A Difference is Being Made in Afghanistan

Sally Goodrich, a mother who lost her son in the second plane to hit the World Trade Center on the September 11 attacks, had an opportunity to see the Afghan school being built with money she raised in the U.S.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Sally Goodrich, whose son died in the Sept. 11 attacks, kept a grip on her grief as she surveyed the foundations of the Afghan school being built with money she raised in the United States.

But the 59-year-old, who lost her son in the second plane to hit the World Trade Center, has been overwhelmed more than once as she surveyed the striking landscape of mountains and plains where al-Qaida honed its plot.

"How could it possibly have come from a place of such reverence and tranquility?" she told The Associated Press in the Afghan capital this week, the thought bringing fresh tears and a determined smile.

Goodrich, a native of Bennington, Vt., and an administrator for schools in nearby North Adams, Mass., has helped raise about $180,000 for the new girl’s school in Surkh Abat, about 30 miles south of Kabul, in Logar province.

On Wednesday, she visited the site in a fertile valley edged by jagged mountains. Teachers and pupils gave her jewelry and a penholder made of colored beads. Later, they sang songs of welcome.

"All I had to do was maintain my composure, which was the most I could do," Goodrich said in an interview in a government guesthouse in Kabul, wearing a black headscarf even indoors out of respect for the country’s deep-rooted Islamic customs.

A childhood friend of Peter Goodrich, Sally’s son, wrote to Sally and Don Goodrich about the poor state of schools where he was stationed in Afghanistan.  What started as an effort to raise money for supplies turned into a much larger mission.  Supplies were sent to another school in Logar run out of a private home, but the Goodriches and others decided that Afghan children needed more than just supplies. 

Local churches, schools and family friends helped raise the funds for the school, paying some into a memorial foundation. Some of the money also came from compensation paid to families of the victims of the 2001 attacks.

The site for the new school was identified with the help of an Afghan deputy interior minister who once worked as an assistant to David Edwards, a professor at Williams College, in Williamstown, Mass., who also is involved in the project.

Haji Malik, the 60-year-old foreman of the construction site, said the people from seven nearby villages were delighted about the new school and the generosity of the "kind foreign lady."

"I condemn what happened on Sept. 11," Malik said as about 20 men heaved chunks of stone onto the foundations and smothered them in cement. "We are all part of humanity, we are all brothers, even if we have different religions."

One laborer, Ghulam Dastagir, said his three small daughters jumped up and down for joy when they heard about the school, which will serve elementary and middle grades.

Bibi Hawa, a 10-year-old girl minding four cows nearby, said she also would like to come to the school, "but my father won’t let me," suggesting conservative Muslim traditions would deprive some local children of a chance for education.

Sally Goodrich said her visit was heartwarming and that the 10 female teachers had made clear their sympathy for her loss.

"You see it in they eyes, that they understand suffering," she said.

Sally and her husband plan to return to see the first classes in the completed building, which will fall around the fourth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. 

Truly this story transcends politics and all of the critical fingerpointing we have seen since September 11.  Girls, who just 4-5 years ago would never have had an opportunity to go to school, will be attending a brand new school built because of the generous outpouring of Americans - those who were greatly impacted by the attacks that were planned on the very soil the school’s foundation now stands. 


NIF linked with Ancient Order of Cheap Canadian Beers
16 Comments
Jay said:

It is awesome to watch democracy spread to those whom were opressed for so long!



Merri said:

I agree! We take such things for granted here - for them it is such a gift!



Democracy is great, yet Heroin production has exploded, people are chafing at the thought of permanent U.S. bases and stonings are still taking place.



Merri said:

Of course stonings are still taking place - heroin is still being produced there. If you lived in a place where heroin was, you'd be stoned, too!

This message brought to you by D.A.R.E.



Eric said:

Oh, baby! You go! You know you're a big time blogger when Collin Babbler pays a visit!!!



Raven said:

ooooh Merri. YOu have what it takes.
:)



Jeremy said:

Something everybody has apparently missed is the drastic reduction in poppy production this year. They went from 80% of the world's poppy production to something like 25% in one year.

I've heard the argument that there was almost no poppy production under the Taliban. It's a complete load of what's coming out of Colin's mouth. Afghanistan has been the lead producer of poppies since we stopped production down in Colombia. If you don't believe me, here's the link:
...

Research! It does a body good!



Merri said:

Thanks, Jeremy. I appreciate the link!



Jeremy said:

Correction: 30-40 percent this year.

It's not as if we're just sitting on our hands over there either.

...



Jeremy said:

I just love peeing in Colin's Cheerios. He's always got some irrelovent snide comment as a retort. Will we be part of the Bushian War Cult today? Maybe facists? I hope it's facists. I haven't been called a facist in quite a long time!

...I'd even settle for neo-facist. :(



Raven said:

LOL Jeremy. You are too funny.

"I just love peeing in Colin's Cheerios."



Kender said:

I get called a fascist constantly.....so I hope he calls us neocon racist asswipes.



Jeremy said:

lucky. I never get called a facist anymore. I'm jealous.



Eric said:

Ha! I get called Neo-nazi fascist racist! With a side order of homophobic sexist!



NIF said:

Ancient Order of Cheap Canadian Beers

Today's dose of NIF - News, Interesting & Funny ... It is Stop the ACLU Thursday!



Ogre said:

If he's stoned on heroin, do you think he'll notice that someone peed in his Cheerios?