One Way to Celebrate Hundreds of Mamas

There's something great about turning a Hallmark Holiday into a day that truly celebrates women. Some women who I truly admire, have decided to take this Mother's Day to celebrate one woman who dedicates her life to helping others:Suraya Pakzad. What better way to celebrate this day than by honoring a women who helps hundreds of other mamas? 

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Suraya's Story

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As a young girl in Afghanistan, Suraya attended a school for girls. When she was 12, however, this luxury was torn from her. As she watched, gunmen killed the school's headmistress for teaching girls and refusing to wear a head scarf. Only a few weeks later, a rocket smashed into the school and killed a student sitting near Suraya.

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Fortunately, Suraya saw these attacks as a call to action rather than a warning against education. At the age of 29, Suraya directly defied the Taliban's prohibition against teaching girls, and began tutoring them in her home. Soon after, she founded the Voice of Women Organization (VWO) which started covert schools for girls in the capital Kabul.

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After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, with Suraya as the director, VWO was the first female NGO to be formally registered in the post-Taliban era. The organization expanded its services to underprivileged women and children, carrying out critical relief and rehabilitation programs to victims of abuse and child brides.

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In 2004, the board realized that women in the western region of Afghanistan were largely being neglected. Thus the group moved the organization's headquarters to the western city, Herat and began providing support to female prisoners in the Herat female prison. Since then, the organization's activities have included the reduction of gender-based violence, domestic violence, and violence against women, as well as raising awareness of women's rights, children's rights, and gender equality.

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All of this good work has not been without its negative consequences, however. Suraya has been the victim of many death threats and conservative influences within the government have worked against her good efforts. Funding is also a constant challenge.

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How You Can Help: Join the Movement

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The To Mama With Love campaign is a collaborative online art project designed to honor women around the globe. With a focus on love and telling stories of positive change, the campaign allows you to use pictures and create a "heartspace" for a mama you love, and send it to her electronically. The funds donated in honor of that space then go to one of four women who are transforming the world.

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If you give through this link, the funds will go to Suraya and her work. To read about the other three women, check out Akhila's post at Justice for All

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For more ways to participate, help the campaign raise awareness by including the hashtag #ToMamaWithLove in your Tweets, and directing more people to the To Mama With Love website. Let's make this a day to celebrate women and the incredible work they do.

 

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