April 11, 2017
Dear PARSA Family Members,
As PARSA enters its 3rd decade and I move into my 2nd decade as PARSA executive director, I have had to look at PARSA with new eyes to develop our plans for the future. Living and working in Afghanistan has been a learning of a lifetime and the learning continues. To renew my sense of purpose, in the continued chaos of Afghanistan’s struggle to stabilize and now also the tumultuousness of the world, I have connected back into our programs, our staff and spent time talking with and working with the kids in our programs, our women and our communities. Taking the time from a very busy schedule to sit and chat, is not easy for me but in doing so I have been able to see how PARSA is a collection of interconnected people from all over the world who have stepped up to work with us to just change lives of the Afghan people for the better. And when I talk with Farhad about how he manages the PARSA Job Corps banks (with integrity) or meet with Yasin in the morning to sort out the relentless daily challenges, or talk with Jawad about how to organize Scout troop #3 to participate in the new Scout troop enterprise, I realize how we are all a part of an endeavor that is called an organization, to create meaningful and lasting change.
This year is a turning point for us as PARSA’s hardworking staff as we move into stabilizing our national Scouts program, seeking the Afghan governments cooperation and support to create a structure supporting our 100 Scout Masters around the country. Our psychosocial program, Healthy Afghan Professional Support groups will be set up this year to support the nationwide initiative PROMOTE and 9,000 young women in internships seeking employment. As small as we are we have stayed very true to our vision of Afghan communities taking responsibility for their future and working in partnership to do so. Our work is seeping into the national dialogue in key places such as with President Ghani and his wife Rula, through our Voice of Afghan Youth TV show, through the ministries and with international donors.
I was reminded of the magnitude of our job in a meeting in one meeting with an Afghan colleague when we were talking about his village visit in a village in Ghor, central Afghanistan. He said to me ” Marnie, when I visited I was surprised because they brought hay and grain to feed my car. I realized that they are so uneducated, and have so little experience of the world that they did the only thing they knew to do to help me refuel my transportation…in their world my car was like their donkey. Now how do we change Afghanistan when so many of our people have no idea how to operate in this changing world? How do we care for these poor communities?” And we agreed that we do so primarily through developing meaningful relationships with our beneficiaries, where they trust us to follow through on what we promise and to teach them as they struggle forward. Fundamental to PARSA’s work and the foundation that allows this type of relationship with our work is our love for Afghan tradition, Afghan culture, the courage of the ordinary Afghan and our practice of seeing the best in Afghans, Afghanistan and humanity.