Mary MacMakin founded PARSA in 1996. Through the 1960s and 1970s and into the 1980s, Mary worked as a physical therapist in the hospitals of Kabul. She returned in the early 1990′s to teach physical therapists in Taloqan, a city in northern Afghanistan, and later to teach in the capital, Kabul. After experiencing the desperation of the widows in the spring of 1996, she decided to establish a non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide comprehensive services to disabled Afghans and to the widows and orphans of Afghanistan.
Throughout its history, PARSA fluorished under Mary’s leadership. Despite difficult times including imprisonment under the Taliban and exile to Pakistan, Mary continued to expand PARSA.
In the spring of 2005, Marnie Gustavson and Dr. Norm Gustavson joined Mary to assist her in transitioning PARSA into an Afghan-directed NGO. Marnie, who has an extensive background in program design and implementation in livelihood programs for marginalized populations, is now the Executive Director of PARSA.
PARSA’s work under the directorships of Mary MacMakin and Marnie Gustavson has always been predicated on the premise that the well-being of vulnerable people is best served by a holistic approach to the health of the patient and that in Afghanistan attention also has to be given to the economic circumstance, family situation, and mental health of each patient. PARSA has always strived to assist each person to become a functional and contributing member of his or her family and the community.