Monthly Archives: March 2016

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My sister, Naheed Vadsaria

This is my third attempt at writing this post.  Not for any other reason than that this post is about my sister and I am so proud of her that I have found it difficult to write anything I felt was up to par.  So here is my latest attempt…trying keeping it sweet and simple.

My sister, Naheed Vadsaria, has just had her first book published!  I know there are many more adventures down the road for her but let me tell you a little bit about how she started.

I still remember Naheed going away for the Peace Corps.  I remember people trying to talk her out of it as I sat there thinking…what do they know?  I am so glad she didn’t listen to the nay-sayers because that first step led Naheed to doing some incredible things, all the while giving back to the world.  She’s got the biggest heart, though she may not give herself credit for how big it really is.

Naheed has taught English and computers to children in villages in Pakistan, she’s worked in The  Gambia researching land and labor issues and has been a social scientist in Afghanistan with the Department of Army’s Human Terrain Systems and the French Brigade Task Force Lafayette.

This book is a compilation of her essays, her vignettes from her time as a social scientist.  It focuses on Tajik women in the Kapisa Province in Afghanistan.

Remember Tina Fey in Whisky Tango Foxtrot?  The part where she follows a woman into a hut to find out that it was the women who were actually destroying the well so that they would have to walk for miles to get water because this was the only time they could socialize…that’s along the lines of what Naheed did, but not as a journalist and in a much more complicated, non-movie type of way.  The end goal was to have an open dialogue with villagers to learn what their needs and concerns were.

That meant learning their language, gaining trust, being sensitive to their culture…not impose her views or opinions…but be open to their world, their needs, their values and respect that.  She acted as a bridge between them and the organizations she represented…and here is a snippet of her work in this book.

So yes, Naheed is the smart, awesome, amazing, brave, kick-ass woman I am proud to call my sister.

Here is the link to where you can download her e-book Tajik Hope for free:

xx

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Laxmi Saa

I first learned about Laxmi Saa’s story from a BBC article.  Maybe some of you read the same article.

Laxmi was attacked with acid by a 32 year old man when she was only 15 years old.  She had rejected his advances, rightfully so.

I can’t imagine what she went through and what she still goes through…on a physical, emotional and societal level…the pain, the stigmas, the judgement, the alienation, all for doing nothing wrong.  The one thing Laxmi had control over was to decide when was not a victim.  She fought back.  She started her own non-profit, Stop Acid Attacks (@StopAcidAttacks) and succeeded in getting India’s Supreme Court to form a policy to regulate over-the-counter sales of acid.

She recently signed up to be the face of the fashion house Viva N Diva in India.  They wanted Laxmi to define beauty as bravery, as strength.  They went against every grain and for that I find them to be incredible too.

Check out this video of Laxmi’s photoshoot.

For me, reading about Laxmi is reading about someone who represents bravery, strength, courage, resilience and love.  So yes, she is incredible.

xx

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Mellissa Fung

I first learned about Melissa Fung (@mellissafung) a couple of months ago, while filming in Canada.  Her news broadcast, Losing Afghanistan, was on and I stopped what I was doing to watch.  Ms. Fung’s career as a journalist has been dedicated to documenting the struggle for basic human rights for women.

She was in Afghanistan.  The part of the broadcast I came in on was about the brutal stoning death of 19 year old Rokhshana who was killed for not wanting to marry an older man.  The video is brutal so if you are going to watch, please know this.

Ms. Fung’s broadcast then followed her to one of the largest and desolate refugee camps in Afghanistan, Charahi Qambar.  What I didn’t know was that Ms. Fung was returning to the very place from which she had been kidnapped just years before.  This was her first time back.

If you take the time to watch, her story will speak for itself.  The mud houses.  The people.  The tragedy of these families, these children….AND the bravery and compassion of Ms. Fung.

After watching, I was in awe of her and I hope to one day soon read her book, Under The Afghan Sky.

xx

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The Beginnings…

Hi!  Welcome!  I’m so happy you’re reading this.

I wanted to have a place where I could share my thoughts about issues, events and experiences which are important to me, in a bit more detail than I have been on Twitter.

Specifically, I don’t know what exactly this will lead me to talk about, but I like the thought of stepping into the unknown.

So I will take it one brush stroke at a time, starting with today, being                             International Women’s Day 2016.

Quite some time ago, I was inspired to dedicate a series of tweets to women who are making a change in this world.  I’ve been thinking about those tweets and those women for a while, which led me to want to do it again, here.

Starting today and for the next few days, I will write about women who I have read about or met  whose actions I have found inspirational.  The                                       changemakers.  The heroes.

I hope you will enjoy and I hope you will come back because I am really excited to share this with you.

Dilshad

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