“For the cost of one [American] bombing run,” the author writes in this hard-hitting debut memoir, “I doubtless could have fed and clothed and cared for those 100,000 displaced Afghan refugees. For the cost of another…I likely could have educated their children.”
With assistance from Lewis (Apache Dawn: Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, 2009, etc.), Sadeed, the founder of the nonprofit Help the Afghan Children, chronicles her many trips behind the lines in Afghanistan, where most aid workers feared to go. In 1993, at the time of her first trip back, the Soviets had withdrawn from Afghanistan, but the country was divided into in warring fiefdoms, making travel dangerous. The author weaves together her personal story with that of her native land in this gripping memoir. After the 1979 Soviet invasion, Sadeed and her husband had been fortunate to be able to emigrate to the United States. The birth of her daughter and her career as a successful real-estate broker occupied her until the sudden death of her husband in 1993. In an effort to move on after her personal tragedy, Sadeed decided to raise money in order to provide basic necessities for the 100,000 people who were living in a temporary refugee camp on the outskirts of Jalalabad, and deliver it to them personally. The author describes the dangers she faced and the many brave, open-hearted people she encountered on this and subsequent trips. Some episodes were hair-raising, others heartwarming. She was able convince some Taliban leaders to assist her humanitarian mission, while, unknown to them, she was secretly funding underground girls' schools and health clinics for women. Sadeed provides insight into the traditional values which still sustain the culture, while making an eloquent appeal for understanding, compassion and aid for the people of Afghanistan, and for more schools in order to educate young people and break the cycle of violence.
A moving message from a courageous humanitarian, and more timely than ever.