Job Corps #3 – The Girls

20160825_142951 copy

Our first Job Corps for girls, #3, is taking off, and we are very excited about it – and so are the girls! Mojabin, Sima, Mushtare, Beshta, Maqbola, Samira, Nazia, Fatimah and Farida are all incredibly enthusiastic and excited to learn. So far they have been focusing on cooking and hospitality skills through our Afghan Kitchen, however last week we asked them to make a list of the skills that they want to learn, and their answers were endless. They included auto-mechanics, photography, beauty school – makeup, hair styling and manicures/pedicures, henna, candle making, computer skills, tailoring, learning English, and they all said they want to learn how to drive cars and ride horses, although since they are quite young we decided to start with bicycles. We are so looking forward to making progress with this first pioneer group of girls, and to use their success as a model to expand the girls Job Corps to other provinces. This is a great edition new branch of our PARSA Education Programs – building youth leadership across the country.

To donate directly to the PARSA Job Corps via PayPal, please click here and mention the job corps in the comments. For more information email Alyssa at

20160825_140926 copy

A Family Vacation in Ghor, Afghanistan- by Marnie

43 copy


This is a personal account of a special trip that we made to Ghor province as a work trip and as a break for the extended “Family”.  I periodically write about these times I have had in Afghanistan to convey how much I love the experience of living here.  I hope you enjoy!

Willy’s Summer Vacation Blog1 (Please click for full story)

“I come from a family of very intense and creative people.  In family speak it means Difficult and if we are being kind Special.  My sisters and I have been challenged as we worked to raise the next generation of our family, four boys albeit our oldest, my son Colin is still not quite sure whether he is actually a blood relative because he has been very easy on us as he grew up, or so he tells us.

In 2009, my sister Fran and I had a call about her son Willy who was 17 and trying to find a purpose for his life and he disliked all apparent paths forward especially school. She was trying to figure out how to support him and she was ready for a break.  I suggested that she send him to me in Kabul for the summer and to our surprise Willy jumped on the opportunity. He joined his cousin, my son, Reese who came to visit me in a similar unsettled period of his life two and a half years earlier. We also had the son of a dear family friend, visiting us, Connor, who will evermore be known as Poor Connor, for having to deal with Reese and Willy for a summer. “(read PDF for full story)


Marnie’s August Blog Entry

PARSA August 2016

Last week I had the opportunity to sit in on a World Bank meeting and contribute to the international dialogue that will take place in Brussels about the future of Afghanistan. As I listened to the well-researched prognosis for the next couple of years presented by an economic expert, I was struck by just how wide the gap is between our efforts to address stabilizing a country from a macro level of development and from the “frontline” reality that organizations like PARSA face when dealing at the level of people experiencing the results of a tragically drawn out war. On the macro level, the problems are overwhelming and even hopeless. On the frontline of service, the problems take on a name and a face, and our innate compassion for others overrules any sense of despair or futility.

Two weeks ago I was contacted by a woman in Norway who, as a mental health professional, was working with an Afghan illegal immigrant who was being deported by to Kabul after five years in Norway. He had been born in Iran, and has never stepped foot in Afghanistan, and has no identification from any country that might assist him with integrating here. This very kind Norwegian reached out to us at PARSA to see if we could somehow assist. She went way beyond her professional obligation to reach out and into his life to try to help so that he might have a decent future, and we at PARSA reached back and took him in, stretching beyond our capacity or mandate to respond humanely. Today, Mohammed is out on a trip volunteering with the Scouts, paying us back for our compassion by working as hard as he can to contribute to PARSA, as it is his new home. I am convinced that this network of small efforts to change each life as it comes into our world will at some point overwhelm the cynicism and resignation of the “larger picture”. Thank you PARSA Family Members for being part of our work in changing lives.

Marnie Gustavson
Executive Director PARSA

Mina’s Fundraising for Parwan Scouts

A big thank you to our VoAY producer Mina Sharifi and her wonderful friends who supported her campaign to get the last 10 kids in the Parwan orphanage in shiny new Scout uniforms. Her friends and family met her request within minutes, and so last week a group of 100 kids got to have a little party with a damboora player and other musicians, and each one was presented their dapper new Scout or Cub Scout uniform, complete with hat, scarf, shoes, and belt. All the kids looked splendid and it was a wonderful day! Thank you for sorting out all the Scouts in Parwan, Mina jan!

If you want to contribute to dressing up Scout troops in the future, visit our Donate Page and specify your donation is for Mina’s Scout uniforms. Thank you!