Have you ever researched a topic only to discover what you thought was real is nothing more than a fantasy. I’ve been living in a fantasy. My upbringing on my family’s cattle ranch led me to believe that with hard word and perseverance, success is guaranteed. Not necessarily the kind of success that brings unlimited wealth, but one would enjoy a stable and rewarding life. I also believed that everyone has access to jobs and health care. I also believed that all girls attend schools. How blind could I be?
While writing FORBIDDEN I hunted down every scrap of information about the Middle East, its complex history, the birth of Islam, watched dozens of home videos taken by Iraqi’s while on a joy ride, driving down main street of Baghdad long before the current warfare.
My favorite book was a biography, Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia. My library grew, and so did my understanding of a fascinating and exotic world of passion, intrigue, and struggle.
Then I read Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Synopsis: Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.
What the …. in many countries, girls are not allowed to attend school? In fact, there are no schools in the most remote and dangerous sites in the Middle East, specifically Pakistan and Afghanistan. That’s when I discovered the Central Asia Institute (CAI) and began to contribute monthly to their efforts to build schools and empower women.
From CAI Website: “Educating one woman is the equivalent of educating several men because she shares her knowledge with her family, her children, and her community, amplifying the impact of one school ten-fold.
SHE is the key.
Her family will be smaller and healthier, her children will be twice as likely to go to school, and she will raise her family out of poverty by bringing home more money with every year of school she completes. In a seedbed of poverty, ignorance, and extremism, she is a ray of hope.
So we must do everything in our power to help her succeed.
• We must build her a school
• We must make it safe
• We must give her well-trained teachers
• We must keep her healthy
• We must help her grow
It has been said that “the roughest road leads to the heights of greatness.” Central Asia Institute attempts to navigate that road every day.”
Video by CAI:
Video: Meet Gul Bahar, a day in the life of an Afghan School girl:
FORBIDDEN’s setting can become a reality – a place of peace, inclusiveness, growth, equality, and intelligent leadership by men and women. It is my mission to nurture the beauty that is in the Middle East and its people through support of education programs. Instead of sitting in our comfortable chair watching televised horrors taking place in the Middle East, we all need to get up, step forward, and take on some responsibility to make peace happen.