December 2013 Newsletter
Making a World of Difference
Dear Friends, 
Much has happened since we last wrote to you.  We hope you enjoy this update. As always, your donations make a world of difference. Please keep us in mind as you make your year-end charitable contributions. Best wishes as you head into the new year.
Roberta Bitar, Greg Brozowski, Karen Coates, Graham Cole, Kathleen Deignan, Hans Dekker, Jonathan Greenburg, Joseph Highland and Leo Motiuk
Newsletter Highlights
Scholarship Update

Twenty-six students are now in the program.  A total of 30 have been assisted since the program first started in 2008.
Three recently graduated from Mercersburg Academy, Peddie School and St. Timothy's and are now attending (at left) Zahra - Washington & Lee, Mahsheed - Muhlenberg and Fatima - Bucknell. Two new students have come to St. Margaret's and Wyoming Seminary for three year college prep programs.  A student at St. Paul's Prep (Minnesota) has also joined the program.

Bahara at Wyoming Seminary
Qamar at St. Margaret's 
Twenty-one students are now in college and attend Bucknell, Dickinson, Goucher, Lafayette, Lynchburg (2), Mount Holyoke (4), Muhlenberg (2), Oberlin, Peidmont Community College, Skidmore, Smith, St. Elizabeth College, University of the Pacific (2), Washington & Lee and Yale.  Five are in boarding school and attend Groton, St. Margaret's, St. Paul's Prep, St. Timothy's and Wyoming Seminary.  Students have also previously been assisted in college at Drew and Rutgers-Douglass Residential College and in boarding school at Blair Academy, George School, Mercersburg Academy and Peddie School.
Shamila Kohestani, the first AGFAF recipient and college graduate, is doing well in her second year at the International Republican Institute in its North Africa-Middle East section. 

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Yasameen at St. Paul's Prep
Volunteers and Staff
We are pleased to report that Kathleen Deignan, Dean of Undergraduate Students at Princeton University, has joined our AGFAF group. Kathleen brings a lifetime of experience assisting students with the college years.This will be of enormous value to AGFAF students.
We are also pleased to welcome our new Director of Operations, Roberta Bitar ( who comes to us via Bates College and Goldman Sachs & Co.  After having spent the last 14 years raising her three boys she is reentering the working world and will be responsible for AGFAF's administrative operation. 
Looking Forward - Collaborations

Open A Door Foundation and AGFAF are working together to assist Malika (right) who has started her first year at Oberlin. AGFAF looks forward to more such efforts with interested groups

Solace for the Children meets a critical Afghan health care need. AGFAF hopes there may be future opportunities to support the education of Afghans working for Solace.

Roya Mahboob, founder and CEO of Afghan Citadel Software and Francesco Rulli, founder and president of Film Annex, have joined forces to create Women's Annex and to become leaders for digital literacy, sustainable education and communication without borders in Afghanistan.  Learn more.

Francesco and  Roya pictured at left at The 2013 Time 100 Gala at which Roya was honored as on of Time's 100 most influential people in the world.

Summer 2013

Fifteen students were home this summer in Afghanistan. Employment and internships included Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, Afghan Premier League, Afghan Transition Commission, Film Annex/Women's Annex, Lapis, National Democratic Institute (3), Open Society (2), Roshan, Star Educational Society, TOLO News, UN Dispatch and World We Want.  Two other students were in Olso, Norway working for the International Office for Migration and the Afghan Embassy.  Before leaving the USA for the summer, one student also worked for Peter Bergen at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Farima (right) worked this past summer for Afghan Premier League which is a joint venture involving the MOBY GROUP

Two students (below) worked for Film Annex.

Fatima - hear her story

Yasameen - hear her story
Eight of the students were here in the USA.  Several took important summer courses. 
Mursal (below) and Freshta were engaged in scientific research with Smith and Goucher professors. Freshta (right) presented a paper at the Landmark Conference on "Formation of PCB degrading biofilms on sorptive surfaces by Burkholderia xenovorans strain LB400".  

During her summer break, Husnia (left) assisted Solace for the Children in caring and translating for Afghan children who were recovering from operations in North Carolina.


(Right) Noorjahan was recognized as the outstanding female college junior in the USA and awarded the $20,000 grand prize in Glamour magazine's and  L'Oreal Paris' Top 10 College Women 2013 Competition - See the video. 

Wazhma (left) was admitted into Yale's Skull and Bones, whose alumni have earned worldwide distinction in such fields as government, business, health and literature. Read her reflections on Afghanistan's past and future in her article "Beyond the Battlefield" published in The Politic - Yale Undergraduate Journal of Politics

Zainab, pictured (l-r) with Host Dad Hans Dekker, Dean Bourhill and Dean Roman, at her November 13, 2013 induction into the College of Saint Elizabeth's Honor Society.

Mahsheed (center) with (l-r) U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Martin Indyk, Gahl Burt, Dr. Marsha Guenzler-Stevens and Randy Stevens, Head of St. Timothy's School, receiving the Princeton Prize in Race Relations at the U.S. Capitol in May 2013. 

Zahra was awarded the Kissinger Prize for Citizenship and Diplomacy at the May 2013 Peddie School Graduation.

(above) On March 2, 2013 Nahid participated in a peaceful demonstration on behalf of Hazaras in front of the UN in NYC.  Read more...
Noorjahan' s interview with Global Voices Online - "Women Can Change Afghanistan" discusses women's issues and rights in Afghanistan.

Shamila with Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite RunnerA Thousand Splendid Suns, and And The Mountains Echoed, at UN Refugee Day Commemoration in
Washington, DC

Zainab and Nickolas Kristof,  Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist, at the Shirley Sugerman Interfaith Forum on March 19, 2013 at Drew University's Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict.


Over three days, the recipients talked about cross-cultural issues, keys to success while studying in the USA, creating opportunities for oneself and service while back in Afghanistan in the summer and long term. Francesco Rulli and Fereshteh Forough of Film Annex/Women's Annex covered the importance of social media in achieving digital literacy and communication without borders for Afghans. Glen Davis, Political Team Leader for the Afghan Desk-US State Department, listened to AGFAF students state their positions on current issues facing Afghanistan. Kathleen Deignan chaired the student workshops and Molly Dunne, College Counselor- The Lawrenceville School, discussed the college application process with AGFAF secondary school students. Ellen Wraith, Gahl Burt and Robert Weisbuch were honored for all they have done for AGFAF.

One of the highlights of the retreat was an exhibition of Afghan images of the renowned photographer Zalmai.

Francesco Rulli with Fatima and Yasameen

Karen Coates, Retreat Coordinator,
with Azala and Malahat
                Glenn Davis     Fereshteh Forough

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                Graham Cole           Molly Dunne
               Retreat Chair      
In its December 23, 2001 article "Kandahar: Looking Back", The New York Times writes about AGFAF Volunteer Jonathan Greenburg and his service in Afghanistan during the late 1960s with the Peace Corps.  Read here...  
                       1968, Afghanistan                                2013, AGFAF Retreat
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Thank you to all who helped make 2013 a memorable year.
Our colleague Ellen Wraith (center, with l-r Graham, Jonathan, Leo, Joe, Greg and Karen) has stepped down after four tremendous years of service. AGFAF would not be where it is today without Ellen. While Ellen has stepped down, we are also glad to report that she continues to be available to AGFAF for advice and guidance.
Suhaila Aziz, our first staff person, also stepped down to take an internship at the White House Office of Public Engagement. She was recently involved in putting together an Afghan Round-table at the White House. We expect to hear more great news from Suhaila.

Joseph Hoyt - "Images of Afghanistan" for AGFAF Honorees and Students

The Lawrenceville School for hosting the 2013 AGFAF Retreat.

Richard Marks for making possible the Zalmai exhibition.

Rajan Pradhan for his photography.

People helping People - Taylor McKay (second from right, and pictured with AGFAF students Shamila, Nahid, and sister Quinn) is making a difference.  Find out how her birthday wish is helping the young women who benefit from AGFAF.
AGFAF has received  $810,000 in contributions and pledges. In addition, substantial in kind donations have been received to meet such needs as medical,dental, tutoring, computers, frequent flier bonus points and legal.
Your continued support will allow AGFAF to place worthy Afghan women in top colleges and secondary schools. Even when students receive full tuition, room and board packages, there are additional costs such as books, medical insurance, transportation home each summer, visa fees, etc., which costs thousands of dollars per year.
Contributions can be made on the AGFAF website: or by mail to the Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund c/o Community Foundation of New Jersey, PO Box 338, Morristown, NJ 07963-0338.
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Copyright © 2013 Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund, All rights reserved.

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