News / USA

    9/11 Widows Help Afghan Women, Girls

    Demonstrating the power of American Ideals with 'Beyond the 11th'

    Susan Retik Ger and Patti Quigley visit a literacy class in Afghanistan.
    Susan Retik Ger and Patti Quigley visit a literacy class in Afghanistan.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Faiza Elmasry

    Moving beyond a tragedy takes strength, courage and, often, an effort to look beyond one's own pain to help others.

    That's the story behind Beyond the 11th. Susan Retik Ger and Patti Quigley lost their husbands in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

    Reaching out

    The women found solace, and a purpose, in reaching out to Afghan widows through community based education and employment.

    "I believe that's really where the rebuilding of Afghanistan will take place," Retik Ger says.

    Their non-profit organization, Beyond the 11th, provides Afghan widows with the support and resources they need to rebuild their lives and to help rebuild their country.

    Since their effort began in 2003, says Retik Ger, they've given grants totaling about $600,000 to non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan.

    "We pick income-generating programs because we believe that these women needed opportunity to provide for themselves and their families," she says. "If they can learn a trade or a skill to just help get them by, they will have an opportunity to send their children to school."

    On the ground

    In May 2006, Retik Ger and Quigley visited Afghanistan, and met many of the women who were directly benefiting from the grants. In Bamyan, a grantee organization, called Arzu, helps women earn an income by teaching them rug-weaving skills.

    "They are not only weaving the rugs and getting money, but also we require that no child under 15 can weave rugs," says Razia Jan, an Arzu spokeswoman. "They have to be in school. Then, we have a literacy program. Those women who couldn't even count a dollar can now read and write and they are helping their children. We are trying to hopefully get permission- a certification from the Ministry of Education- to have a kind of higher education."

    Arzu also runs the first community center for women in Afghanistan. It has a greenhouse where they can plant flowers and grow vegetables, and a washing area where they can shower and take care of personal needs. The women socialize at Arzu's tea club and their children can enjoy the playground.

    "We have 81 families in Bamyan. Each family has 20, 30 people," she says. "We help all of them. We have health education. These women haven't lost one child. We make sure that they get the vaccination. We're doing health workshops. So people are getting better."

    Jan credits Beyond the 11th for making all their progress possible.

    Honors

    Retik Ger was honored as a co-founder of the organization with the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation's second highest civilian award. Along with 12 others, she was recognized for her selfless service, an example of how one person can do big things.

    Retik Ger says helping others turned out to be the best way to help herself. She says it's rewarding to feel she has a role in helping women and widows in Afghanistan find their own voice and begin to rebuild their country.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora