A turn of events for Dina Fesler in Afghanistan

Dina FeslerNorthfielder Dina Fesler, head honcho at Children’s Culture Connection and War Kids Relief, has been in Afghanistan since Nov. 24 to set up operations for a U.S./Afghan Junior Investor Program, traveling and filming with Kelly Kinnunen of NEED Magazine. (More on the WKR blog here.) But life has intervened and she’s now taken on an emergency medical mission.

See this NEED blog post from Tuesday: Educational Filming Turns into Medical Mission for Two Minnesotans and then Dina’s post on the NEED blog from yesterday: Update from Afghanistan.

btn_donateCC_LG You can DONATE to the Helmand Children’s Medical Fund here (enter the code HCMF in the PayPal comment box).

Here’s her emailed Kabul Report: Day Eight with accompanying photos below:


Yesterday started out by discovering that we had received just enough online HCMF donations to take the little girl in yesterday’s blog photo to the hospital. She was severly malnourished, and has quite a few other issues as well that we will learn more about today. Her name is Sahebo, and for as tiny and fragile as she is, she is quite a little fighter as well. When the doctor drew blood for the blood test she screamed her head off for about 15 minutes straight. It reminded me of my darling daughters when got their Kindergarten shots a few months ago. Such drama queens.

After Sahebo was all checked in, we resumed our film project which included an interview with a man named Molawi Arsalan Rahmany, the former Minister of Education for the Taliban government, and currently a member of the Afghan senate. I’m telling you, Najib knows just about everyone. For an hour an a half I interviewed Rahmany and got his thoughts on everything from 9/11 to Al Qaeda to Obama’s 30,000 more troops to how he believes that peace can come to Afghanistan. It was one of the most fascinating interviews I’ve ever conducted, for sure, and I might need a few days to sort out my thoughts before I can report clearly on it all. He invited me to come back again some time for tea and to chat more, so I guess we are off to a good start on the peacebuilding part.

It is now 6:15am and we just got another donation so we will be heading to camp first thing to bring another child to the hospital. I will keep you posted as always.

Stay tuned…


P.S. If you’ve missed any previous postings, my previous and future blogs are/will be posted at www.needmagazine.com/blog for the duration of this trip.

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  1. Griff Wigley said:

    IMG_3635Dina Fesler and her adventure mission are on the front page of the Strib today in an article titled In Afghanistan, a fortunate accident: Two Minnesotans making a video in Kabul got sidetracked on a mission of mercy by Kristin Tillotson.

    Here’s her emailed Kabul Report: Day Nine, with 12 photos:


    Good news…the HCMF momentum is growing, and we not only took two more children in for medical treatment, but both CBS and CNN news tagged along with us for the fun! I’ll admit it makes things a bit more hectic slogging through the muddy camp with an entourage, but I am just happy that they want to help us get the word out…not only on the relief effort, but the reality of the situation for people in these camps as well. I am hoping that by seeing this story that someone or some organization with more power than I have can get involved to make a more substantial difference for these people long term.

    Unfortunately, we won’t be able to go back to the camp for awhile because the security situation has gotten too dangerous. One of the sad realities in Afhganistan is that these days kidnapping is big business for a lot of people. It’s not always Taliban related, and many opportunists will kidnap foreigners simply because we are worth money. Well, hopefully somebody would miss me enough to cough up a little cash.

    Yesterday at the camp, the guides noticed that there were some creepy guys circling the area, and they even saw some of the camp elders telling them to leave us alone because we were good people that were here to help their children. Happily, my fears of danger were overshadowed by knowing that in only a few days we have built a real relationship with these people. That’s amazing. But even though the camp elders have our backs, we have become too predicatable so Wasim will be picking up and transporting the kids on his own. He’s the real talent on this part of the team anyway as Kelly and I alone would never in a million years be able to coordinate this. Wasim assesses the kids to determine the greatest need, convinces their parents to put their trust in us, ensures safe transporation to and from the hospital and handles all of the admission paperwork, bill paying, negotiations and more.

    Afghanistan is a place that can be difficult to navigate in many ways. Both Wasim and Najib must call on lots of personal and professional favors, and understand the ways of the Afghan people and systems to get all this done. They are real superheores if you ask me. As for the rest of the team, Kelly is creating magic with the video and making sure that this powerful story gets told, his wife Stephanie (who also runs NEED magazine) is handling our PR back home…and I guess I am just trying to keep the energy and momentum growing in my own little way.

    We are a small but mighty team! 😉

    One of the children we took in is a 15-year old girl who has a similar situation to Sahebo (the girl we brought in the day before), including malnutrition and a serious problem with her bones that will require many specialists and extensive physical therapy. Apparently, both these girls had existing problems with their bones, but due to living in the cold, damp camp environment it exacerbated it to the point that they are now unable to walk. Although these medical bills will be higher for their inpatient stay, the hospital promised that it is be committed to their ongoing reahabilitation treatments as long as they need them at no cost. That’s wonderful news! We also brought in a 6-month old baby boy who has had complications from pneumonia and required more substantial medicines. Luckily, he didn’t need to be admitted so he could go home that same day. (It’s hard to believe that I just wrote how he is lucky to get to go home.)

    After the kids were checked in safe and sound, and the news crews finally left, we went to visit Kabul’s famous Chicken Street to film the local culture. It’s a cool shopping area that sells lots of beautiful Afghani arts and crafts, lapis stones and jewelry (something Afghanistan is famous for), traditional clothing and lots of fabulous Afghan rugs. I just don’t recall see any chickens. Najib told me that a long time ago the area primarily sold chickens with many restaurants serving their famous chicken soup. Who would have guessed that Afghanistan is famous for chicken soup?

    Either way, I was in shopping heaven and pretty much wanted to buy everything in sight, but managed to restrain myself. Business first.

    Stay tuned for the next adventure…


    P.S. If have missed any of the bogs, please check out http://www.needmagazine.com/blog to get caught up!

    P.P.S. Donations to help the children can be made at http://www.warkidsrelief.org/donate (indicate HCMF in the PayPal memo)

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    December 5, 2009
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Here’s Dina’s emailed Kabul Report: Day Ten, with 15 photos:


    After all the excitement with the media on Friday (from CBS/CNN in Kabul to the front page of the Star Tribune in Minnesota, yesterday we got back to business on our filming project.

    Our morning started with a meeting with Mr. P.M. Akram, the chief director of the Afghanistan National Independent Commission for Peace and Reconciliation. I honestly don’t know how Najib manages to know every single person in Afghanistan but somehow he does. This organization was established five years ago and works to bring opposition parties into the peace building process. So far they have convinced over 8,000 Taliban and insurgents to disarm and work for peace, and have nearly 7,000 more ready to join. Part of the way they are able to do this is by establishing relations with the tribal elders in all regions of Afghanistan. Unlike the US, Afghanistan is tribal, which means that ideas don’t always work when forced from the top down. Each community needs to be brought into the fold individually, and luckily these Peace and Reconciliation folks get that. It’s all about PR. Of the many things we discussed during our hour and a half meeting, he says that they are in support of the US troop surge as long as they get the Afghan forces trained to take over, he (along with the former Taliban I met the other day) say the real problem is coming from Pakistan, and he hopes that foreigners will help them develop economically in order to strengthen their country even more. Some days I feel like Ann Curry.

    What I liked best about Mr. Akram is that he is a former Minister of Education and believes that reaching children to help them understand peacebuilding is vital. I told him he was a guy after my own heart (so to speak) and that CCC has the same mission, and that if there is anything we could do to help out that he can count us in. He said he appreciated this and would give thought to some possibilities before we meet again. Cool…stay tuned for this!

    Afterwards, I attended a meeting with the school directors, teachers, community elders and four students from the Khost school that came to Kabul for the day to discuss the vocational training program. This was a monumental meeting as Khost (7 hours away by car) is a very conservative commuity and heavily influenced by Taliban. Santwana, PECA’s director said that it took five years to get the community elders on board with this. Baby steps. We all met and discussed the importance of not only education, but economic security for their children (something hard for them to deny)…but Santwana and I held our breath as we waited to hear their thoughts on our vocational training program that American students are co-investing in in an effort to help them communicate with one another. Having this much contact with westerners is completely unprecedented…but it turns out they loved it!!! Wow!

    After the meeting was over we asked the kids to record a video message for the kids in Cannon Falls middle and high school who are participating in the pilot project. Again, this level of contact is completely unprecendented. It was really cute and they were all nervous, but as we aked them to talk about their lives and tell stories of what they appreaciated about Afghan culture and society everyone started loosening up. It was so cool to see these neo-conservative elders laughing and smiling at how proud the kids were to share their culture. Look out world peace…here we come!

    It was late by the time that meeting finished so we met Wasim at the hospital to visit baby Rahim and the other kids, and get updates on the kids he brought in that day. He first brought in a little boy who was blind in one eye and had serious infections in both eyes. The doctors gave him some medicine for him to take over the next four days. If there isn’t improvemen they will likely need to do surgery.

    He also brought in a 15 day old baby and a three-year old who both suffered from severe pneumonia. The hospital wanted to admit the baby but the mother wasn’t able to stay with him beacuse she needed to get back to her children in the camp. Wasim is going to go back today to try to find someone else who can watch her kids for her there because the baby really needs to be admitted to the hospital. Wasim will find a way. He is the best!

    Meanwhile, baby Rahim and the other patients are doing better every day, and I brought them some toys to cheer them up. (My daughters always give me some of their toys to share with kids when I travel)

    The best news of all yesterday was because of the Star Tribune article we got alot of donations… so it will be a busy day at the hospital today. Stay tuned for updates tomorrow!


    P.S. Donations to help the kids can be made at http://www.warkidsrelief.org/donate

    P.S.S. To get caught up on the whole story check out http://www.needmagazine.com/blog

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    December 6, 2009
  3. Griff Wigley said:

    Here’s Dina’s emailed Kabul Report: Day Eleven, with 14 photos:


    Before I get to anything else, I want to give an update that so far we have gotten 26 children from the IDP camp to the hospital for desperately needed medical treatment. In addition to our first three patients suffering from malnourishment, there have been lot of cases of severe pneumonia, tonsilitis and respiratory tract infections. So far the donations have been encouraging so we are providing a 3-week supply of milk to every child upon discharge from the hospital so that they can continue to gain strength during their recovery. (It’s just a few bucks but will go a long way in their recovery.) Depending on how strong the donations come in we are also considering buying blankets for them as well. It’s just so hard to get better when you can’t get warm, and the weather is getting steadily colder.

    (I’ve also personally discovered that you can’t get better from a cold if you don’t stop running around for five minutes…but that’s my own problem to deal with. I’ll recover when I get home…just in time to do my holiday shopping. That’s always relaxing!)

    Anyway, yesterday was another busy day that gave us an incredible glimpse into the lives of Afghanistan’s youth…a glimpse that really shows what these kids are made of despite their difficult living situations.

    The first part of the day we visited an organization called Aschiama which serves thousands of Kabul’s impoverished street children who are forced to work at young ages to help feed their families. The sad reality is, due to the effects of war, many children become the head of their family at a young age. Aschiama provides half day schooling, sports facilities, artisan training and art therapy to help these kids get an education, take pride in themselves and imagine the possibilities of a different life.

    It all started ten years ago when Mohammad Yousef (the founder and current director) was having his shoes polished by a young boy on the streets. While talking with the boy he could instantly see how bright he was and how he really needed to get into school to be able to develop his potential. The boy explained that he couldn’t go to school because he had to work to provide for his family. Yousef thought that even though he couldn’t change the economic realities of the boy’s family, perhaps he could somehow provide enough support to help redirect the course of the boy’s future. So he started Aschiama. Ten years later, there are still thousands of kids out on the streets who must polish shoes, wash cars, or sell chewing gum to survive, but because of Aschiama, many of them have become trained skilled artisans and craftsmen, and have gotten an education that they otherwise wouldn’t have had.

    From there, we spent the second part of the day visiting the home of a very special family with an epic story who, like many Afghan families, have struggled through decades of war. With their three girls and one boy, they were tortured by the Taliban, escaped to live in a Pakistani refugee camp, lost a son, used opium to subdue the pain and hunger, and even lived in an empty bombed out building because they couldn’t affort rent anywhere else. (Have I mentioned that Najib knows absolutely everyone?) They’ve had more than their share of hard times, but they are hardworking people and little by little they have been getting back on their feet. With the help of a social worker they kicked their opium addiction, moved back to Kabul, the father works as a cook in a military hospital, the mother works in a raisin factory for $5 per day, and they now have just enough money to rent a “home.” Their new home is basically two cement rooms with a ceiling caving in, no heat, electricity, water or plumbing (just think of a nasty garage with rugs on the floor and you’ll be getting close)…but to them it was heaven because it was the best home they have had in years and they were proud to invite us over for lunch to celebrate.

    What is most incredible about this family, however, is their daughter Karema. Karema is a real firecracker, but at only 14-years old she runs the household while the parents work, including cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children all day. She’s already a middle-aged housewife and she’s barely a teenager. From the first moment I met her when she came outside to greet us with her infectious smile and firm handshake, I knew I was meeting someone very special. We interviewed her while she cooked us all lunch and learned that she isn’t able to go to school because she needs to run the home while her mother raises enough money for the family to eat (dad’s paycheck barely covers the rent), but that doesn’t stop her from trying to learn on her own. More importantly, it doesn’t stop her from dreaming big. I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up and she was dead serious when she said she wants to be a journalist. Or, more specifically, a TV news reporter. When I heard this there was no doubt in my mind that that is what she should be, so after lunch Kelly and I gave her a crack at the real thing. We got her mike’d up and had her give a full report on the goings-on of the day. The kid was incredible!

    Karema is an example of a kid who is already imagining a new possiblity for her life, and I want to help redirect her future as soon as possible. You know my wheels are turning as to how I will get this girl back in school to make this happen…but mark my words, I will think of something. 😉

    Stay tuned,


    P.S. To help support the children in the camp, please go to http://www.warkidsrelief.org/donate I guarantee your money will be put to good use immediately!

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    December 7, 2009
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    Here’s Dina’s emailed Kabul Report: Day Thirteen, with 11 photos:


    Wow, it’s been just over a week that we started our little HCMF fund and I am blown away at how it continues to significantly change the lives of IDP families as it gains momentum. Yesterday, we weren’t able to bring any new cases to the hospital because we had some follow up to do with a few current patients. Wasim brought the little boy with the eye problem to another specialist, and the two girls in the hospital suffering from malnutrition and bone disorders (Sahebo and Fatima) were discharged. With medication, their malnourishment should be under control, but going forward they will need extensive physical therapy so we took them over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hospital to get registered there. ICRC is a Kabul facility famous for working with the thousands of amputees victimized by land mines planted during both the Russian invasion and civil war (1980-90s). It is also where both Najib and Wasim worked as medics, so they have lots of peeps on the inside there. ICRC will be providing physical therapy for the girls on a weekly basis, and they also are giving each a wheelchair. I can’t imagine how easy it will be to wheel them through the mud in the camp…but it’s something, at least.

    Also, CNN is still working on their news piece and wanted to meet with baby Rahim’s mother, so we all went back to the camp to pay her a visit. It has been over a week since she has seen her son and we wanted to give her an update on how he is doing. I can tell you that there wasn’t a dry eye in the mud hut when Rahim’s mom watched the video of him in the hospital on the CNN laptop. It was pretty emotional, but despite her tears she was happy that he is getting stronger and is going to live. She said thank you to me a million times but I told her she shouldn’t thank me. I am a mother and it’s our job to look out for one another. She’ll pay it forward someday, too.

    Even though we are doing our best to help the kids in the IDP camp with their medical needs, I can’t stop thinking about WHY this situation is as bad as it is. Every day I get emails from people who are shocked that nobody is doing more to help these folks out. Where are the big NGOs in this equation?? With all the aid money pouring into Aghanistan, why is this little health tent so under-funded? Being the busy-bodies that we are we decided to do our own investigation into this matter so we went back to meet with the local health tent directors to get more of the story.

    It turns out that the whole IDP issue is somewhat of a sticky situation. Because these people really shouldn’t be there (they should be back in the provinces where they came from), the Ministry of Repatriation doesn’t want to make life too comfortable for them here in Kabul. They want them to go back to their homes (or what’s left of their homes) the second that the bombing and fighting stops in Helmand Province so that Kabul doesn’t have to figure out how to absorb this massive influx of people. These people would like to go home as well, but unfortunately, nobody knows when that will happen so they continue to linger from day to day in the camps. I could tell that the director wasn’t too comfortable speaking directly to my queries (he’s caught the middle of this political web, too), but he admitted that "the government doesn’t encourage donors/NGOs to support the IDP camps." On the other side, the NGOs have to keep their political standing to continue their work in Afghanistan, so it wouldn’t be in their best interest to make a huge stink about this IDP crisis either. So the end result is thousands of innocent people that everyone basically wishes didn’t exist.

    Sometimes I wonder if I am being a bit dramatic about all this, but then I go back and look at some of those photos of the camp and the way these innocent people are living and I get all upset. These aren’t just "poor people" we are talking about. They are people who are stuck in this camp as a direct result of the war effort. It just isn’t fair that they are invisible because they are inconvenient.

    Anyway, back to our film project, we also visited a madrassa…which was a great experience not only because it was one of the most beautiful buildings I have even seen, but because I learned that the term "madrassa" is not synonymous with "terrorist training camp" the way the media had led me to believe. It is actually a religious-based school where they study law, sociology, philosophy and oher subjects in addition to religion. Like Notre Dame for Muslims. We interviewed some of the college kids who attend school there and they were very happy to speak on camera to the students in the U.S. for our project. Interestingly, just about every group of students we have spoken to anywhere on this trip has the same message for the American kids: please help us.

    We also visited the National Mine Museum which was an eye-opening experience in many ways. It was so creepy to be in this museum and see the many forms of weapons that have been used to tear apart this country, but when we were looking at a display of missles, Najib said "those make just a terrible noise." Kelly and I realized that this man we spend every day with has seen war with his own eyes to the point where he knows what sounds these bombs, mines and missle make. It was chilling.

    Later in the car I asked Najib a few questions about his life during the civil war in the 90s…the darkest and bloodiest time in Afghan history, which was barely more than a decade ago. For the record, the Afghan civil war started when the mujahideen fighters, who the US gave billions of dollars of weapons to in order to fight the Russians for us, fell into a massive power struggle after the Russians left. Helping the Afghans defend themselves seemed like a good idea at the time, until you consider that these fighters were also militant extremists…including Bin Laden. And these are the same weapons that were used to kill thousands of innocent people caught in the crossfire of the ensuing power struggle…many of whom Najib knew, loved and treated as a medic.

    The US has a bit of a fingerprint left on this situation.

    Najib told us candidly what it is like to watch missles fly by your head, see innocent people blown in half right in the middle of the street and watch just about everything around you get destroyed. As we drove along we passed a bombed out/shot up movie theater and he told us about how he used to enjoy going there. It’s almost like if the World Trade Center aftermath never got cleaned up and New Yorkers were forced to walk by the wreckage every day for 20 years. Imagine the trauma that people would experience every single day seeing that? Najib is only 39 years old and has seen war, not as a soldier, but just as a guy trying to get to work in the morning and get home at night to his family.

    Kelly and I talk a lot about how Americans just have no clue what war really is. We know that we don’t.

    Stay tuned,

    P.S. To help support the IDP camp children go to http://www.warkidsrelief.org/donate (indicate HCMF in the PayPal message/memo)

    P.P.S. To get caught up on my blog, go to http://www.needmagazine.com/blog

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    December 9, 2009
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Here’s Dina’s emailed Kabul Report: Day Fifteen, with 7 photos:


    If I thought the past two weeks have been busy, they’ve been nothing compared to the past two days of running around getting the last of the video footage for our project before we leave. It’s been like a wild carnival ride as Habibi, our driver, whizzes us all over Kabul in his little Toyota while Najib lines up appointments on his cell phone as fast as I can think of one more thing to put on the list, which includes interviewing a bank and a radio station, attending a girls basketball game and a conference for disabled land mine victims, taking three more kids to the hospital and attending a wedding. I honestly don’t know how Najib manages to put up with me as I must be driving him to his outer limits, but somehow he always remains calm and collected. I guess praying five time a day really helps him stay centered. Maybe I should try that, too.

    (No, I am not taking care of myself properly, and yes, I am still sick…but we’re leaving tomorrow, so we gotta pack it all in now.)

    By yesterday, things were on schedule, but of all the things Najib managed to line up for us, the only thing he was having trouble arranging was getting an invitation to an Afghan wedding. As I have already mentioned, Najib is a master networker and seems to know half of Afghanistan so I could tell it was bugging him that this wasn’t coming together. Every day when I asked him if we scored a wedding invite he’d quietly say “not yet.” I could tell his ego was on the line. But while we were at the International Disabled Persons Day conference (Aghanistan works especially hard to take care of the many victims of the landmines laid during the wars–would you believe that of the ten million land mines buried in Afghansitan that over 3 million are still active?), Najib overheard one of the managers of the hall talking about the fact that there would be a wedding held there the next day.

    His wheels were turning!

    So in a last-chance-Hail-Mary-pass effort, today we all just showed up on the doorstep of this wedding where Najib somehow convinced the parents of the bride to let us crash. He explained that we are making a film to teach American students about Afghan culture and that they would be doing a great thing to help children of the world unite by doing this, etc, etc. I’m telling you…the guy has a gift.

    It turned out, however, that getting us in the door wasn’t the hardest part. At Afghan weddings there are actually two separate parties where the men have their own party in one room and the women have their party in a separate room. So Kelly and Najib went to the guys party and I went solo into the gals party to schmooze my way through hundreds of women all dolled up in their glitziest gowns (like an explosion in a sequin factory), tons of jewlery and even more makeup. It was just amazing to actually be in the middle of this wild celebration with Afghan music blaring, women dancing and shimmy-ing and gyrating all over the dance floor, confetti flying and children chasing one another around the room just like at an American wedding.

    Of course, I was getting plenty of strange looks from the guests with no way of explaining why in the world I was there, so my strategy was to smile as much as possible, say ‘tashakur’ or thank you (the only Dari word I know) to every woman I saw, and then just fawn all over their children as much as possible. That gets them every time.

    I tried to keep a low profile by sitting at a table in the back but because of their incredible Afghan hospitatlity the mother of the bride had me come to the front table to hang with all of her friends. After a lot of dancing they served a huge meal of lamb and rice and naan, and finally, the bride and groom slowly entered the room and went up on the stage as bursts of confetti rained down from overhead. They were absolutely gorgeous as they looked out over all the dancers.

    Because Najib thinks of absolutely everything, he ran to a nearby store, bought gifts and had them specially wrapped so I had something to take up on stage to present to the bride and groom….who were very surprised to discover a strange foreigner at their wedding, but they were also incredibly gracious. Afghan hospitality!

    After they made their apprearance at the women’s party they head over to other side to make their appearance at the men’s party.

    As I am now packing my things getting ready to fly back home, I can’t stop thinking about how much the Afghans amaze and impress me. Two weeks ago when we first landed here I imagined a depressed, war-torn country, bullets and rockets flying by every street corner, and I would have considered myself lucky to get out with my life. But instead, I discovered something completely different. Yes, it is a depressed, war-torn country, but it is one that is filled with the most passionate and loving people I have ever met. People who truly care about and look out for one another. Even though every day is a struggle for them as they carry on the fight to rebuild their country (again) they do it with class and dignity. Even though they haven’t managed to catch a break in over 30 years, they simply refuse to let the world get them down. They have shown me what endurance is, and no matter how many roadblocks get thrown in their way they will still find a way to keep on going. They deeply religious people, but not in a way that others need to fear. To me it is something I admire. They are not bitter and they don’t hold grudges against those who have wronged them in the past. They are survivors.

    Afghanistan is still a dangerous place to be, but I guess it just is hard to worry about death when I am in a place that makes me feel so alive.

    This will be my last post from Kabul as we are leaving in just a few hours, but I will continue to post updates on the children being served by the Helmand Children’s Medical Fund on the War Kids Relief website. Thanks for hanging in with me on this crazy adventure. It’s been busy and quite stressful at times, but the messages of love and support from back home have given me the energy to keep going. Thanks, also, to all of you who have opened your hearts (and wallets) to help the children in the IDP camp get the medical help that they need. You have not only made a difference in the lives of these children, but the families of these children realize where this money is coming from and they are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love that has been bestowed upon them by some American civilians. These people now know who the Americans really are, and instead of being afraid of us (and us of them), some seeds of peace have been planted…and I think that is a beautiful beginning.

    All my love,

    P.S. Back episodes of this blog are still posted at http://www.needmagazine.com/blog

    P.P.S. Donations to the HCMF children’s fund are being accepted until December 31 at http://www.warkidsrelief.org/donate

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    December 11, 2009
  6. Dina Fesler said:

    Thanks, Griff, for posting these blogs and to all who have read them. It’s good to be back in Northfield. I feel so blessed that this is my home.

    Dina Fesler

    December 16, 2009
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    You’re welcome, Dina. Glad to know you’re back, safe!

    December 17, 2009
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    Here’s Dina’s Kabul follow-up report with photos:


    At the moment, I am typing this message from my sick bed here in Minnesota where I am home safe and sound, finally trying to recover from my cold…as well as the most exhausting 15 days of my life. (I’m not very good at being sick, or even sitting still for that matter. Luckily, all I need is my laptop to still run my office.)

    Exciting things continue to unfold with the HCMF project! Every day donations continue to come in, and every day Najib and Wasim continue to run more and more children to the hospital. For the past week I have also been working on a strategic plan to leverage our resources in order to provide more substantial and lasting support to these IDP kids in such desperate need. My goal is to make sure that this effort is more than a temporary “Band-Aid.”

    I have just a few more details to work out and will soon be making an official announcement on the future plan for the fund. (It’s a brilliant plan, if I do say so myself, so cross your fingers that it all comes together!)

    In the meantime, check out this video that CNN posted today!

    Stay tuned….


    P.S. The attached photos are some of the children Wasim took to the hospital yesterday, as well as two shots of baby Rahim. It’s so wonderful to see him getting stronger every day!

    IMG_4375 IMG_4369 IMG_4370 IMG_4372 IMG_4373

    December 17, 2009
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    Here’s the embedded CNN video of Dina’s trip that she mentioned in her latest report. There’s a 15 sec advertisement at the beginning.

    “Americans aiming to educate kids in the U.S. about Afghanistan ended up saving a dying baby. CNN’s Atia Abawi reports.”

    December 17, 2009

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