Benefit to Raise Funds for Healthcare for Afghan Women and Children

Source: Afghan Women's Mission (press release)

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Los Angeles - Thursday April 10th at 8 pm

Today the situation in Afghanistan is more dire than ever. Contrary to popular perception, Afghan women have not been liberated by the United States and warlords now control the countryside outside Kabul. Award winning Indian author Arundhati Roy has said, "After the recent farce about the "liberation" of women (Do we really believe we can bomb our way to a feminist paradise?) - the old jehadis are back at the helm, Sharia law is alive and well, and RAWA is as crucial to Afghanistan's future as it ever was." RAWA member and spokesperson, Tahmeena Faryal, who is visiting the United States on a speaking tour, is the keynote speaker at the April 10th benefit. She will reflect on the continued suffering of Afghan women. "Even though the Taliban is no longer in power, Afghan women's health and education remains in jeopardy and the world's attention has once again turned away from Afghanistan".

Malalai Hospital was inaugurated in January 2002 in Pakistan by Steve Penners, President of Afghan Women's Mission (AWM), a local US based non-profit in support of RAWA. "Malalai Hospital has been the culmination of a tremendous outpouring of support for Afghan women in the United States". The first child to be born in Malalai Hospital recently turned one year old - she was named after the hospital by her mother. Malalai was the name of an ordinary and fearless Afghan woman who resisted the British invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1800s.

Each month Malalai Hospital treats 5000 women and children, on a budget of less than $20,000 (US) a month. A single patient visit costs the hospital roughly $4, including prescription medication. There is no charge to the patients. The suggested donation of $100 at the April 10th benefit will enable 25 women and children to receive desperately needed medical treatment. AWM President Steve Penners reflects, "Words cannot describe the human agony I saw among Afghan refugee women who were witnessing the deaths of their children from common ailments. Malalai Hospital is a small but important step in addressing the needs of these mothers and their children". To date Malalai Hospital has registered and treated more than 50,000 patients.

The benefit on April 10th will be hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar, host of KPFK's popular Morning Show. Kolhatkar is also Vice President and founding member of Afghan Women's Mission. She reflected on the importance of US activists remaining vigilant about Afghanistan: "Before September 11th 2001, very few activists in the US knew about what was happening in Afghanistan. After 9/11, we scrambled to learn more about this desperate country which the US was bombing. The truth is that the war is still going on in Afghanistan and it is crucial we link the issue of war in Iraq with war in Afghanistan. In fact, if you want to know what to expect in Iraq, pay attention to Afghanistan."

Also featuring is actor/poet/activist Viggo Mortensen. Mortensen has supported Afghan women's rights and was involved in earlier efforts to raise funds for Malalai Hospital. He will be reading a new poem at the benefit.

KPFK host and three time Los Angeles Poetry Grand Slam winner, and a multiple National Poetry Slam finalist Jerry Quickley will also perform. Quickley has just returned from assignment in Baghdad, Iraq, after surviving a harrowing journey from Baghdad to the border of Iraq while US bombs dropped overhead.

Los Angeles based musician Mia Doi Todd, freshly returned from a national tour, will also share her music at the benefit. Michael Simmons of the LA Weekly has said, "In this time of relentless ugliness, we need Mia Doi Todd."

Joining Tahmeena Faryal of RAWA on her speaking tour is Anne Brodsky, author of "With All Our Strength", a new book about RAWA. The book has been endorsed by author and journalist Ahmed Rashid, award winning playwright Eve Ensler, Nation magazine writer Katha Pollitt, and Arundhati Roy. Roy says "This book gives us a ring side view of this extraordinary women's movement that is as doggedly committed to the business of democracy as it is to the (vital) business of dreaming of another, better world. Each of us needs a little RAWA." Brodsky spent four months in Pakistan and Afghanistan with RAWA. She will share some of her research and images at the benefit.
Last edited: 12 July 2006 05:02:38
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