Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 23rd, 2016

‘Any Addict Who Asks for Help Will NOT Be Charged’

The police chief from Gloucester, Massachusetts, explains how his department is going beyond arrests to fight drug addiction.

Julie Beck. May 11, 2015. Is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where she covers health.

The outbreak of HIV in Indiana, linked to needle sharing among intravenous drug users, has brought the United States’ drug-addiction epidemic back into the spotlight, along with the looming question: What to do about it?Though Indiana is very publicly and desperately in crisis right now, the addiction issue is a national one. Overdose deaths are the number one cause of injury-related death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and deaths from both prescription painkillers and heroin quadrupled between 1999-2000 and 2013.

These increases go hand in hand—surveys done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse have found that half of young heroin users report first having abused prescription opioids.

In response to all this, and in the wake of four local deaths linked to drug overdose so far in 2015, the police department of Gloucester, Massachusetts announced a new policy on its Facebook page last week.

The post, which now has more than 27,000 likes, reads:


On Saturday, May 2, the City held a forum regarding the opiate crisis, and on how Gloucester has many resources for help. We are poised to make revolutionary changes in the way we treat this DISEASE. Your Police Department vowed to take the following measures to assist, beginning June 1, 2015:

– Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment (needles, etc) or drugs and asks for help will NOT be charged.

Instead we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. We will assign them an “angel” who will be their guide through the process.

Not in hours or days, but on the spot.

Addison Gilbert and Lahey Clinic have committed to helping fast track people that walk into the police department so that they can be assessed quickly and the proper care can be administered quickly.

Nasal Narcan has just been made available at local pharmacies without a prescription. The police department has entered into an agreement with Conleys and is working on one with CVS that will allow anyone access to the drug at little to no cost regardless of their insurance.

The police department will pay the cost of nasal Narcan for those without insurance. We will pay for it with money seized from drug dealers during investigations.

We will save lives with the money from the pockets of those who would take them.

We recognize that nasal Narcan is not the answer, but it is saving lives and no one in this City will be denied a life-saving drug for this disease just because of a lack of insurance. Conleys has also agreed to assist with insurance requests from those who do not have any.

– I will personally travel to Washington, D.C., with the support of Mayor Theken, the City Council, Sen. Bruce Tarr, and Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, on May 12 and 13.

There I will meet with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and Congressman Seth Moulton. I will bring what Gloucester is accomplishing and challenge them to change, at the federal level, how we receive aid, support, and assistance.

I will bring the idea of how far Gloucester is willing to go to fight this disease and will ask them to hold federal agencies, insurance companies, and big business accountable for building a support system that can eradicate opiate addiction and provide long-term, sustainable support to reduce recidivism.

I am asking for your help. Like this post, send it to everyone you can think of and ask them to do the same. Speak your comments.

Create strength in numbers. I will bring it with me to show how many voters are concerned about this issue. Lives are literally at stake.

I have been on both sides of this issue, having spent seven years as a plainclothes narcotics detective. I have arrested or charged many addicts and dealers.

I’ve never arrested a tobacco addict, nor have I ever seen one turned down for help when they develop lung cancer, whether or not they have insurance.

The reasons for the difference in care between a tobacco addict and an opiate addict is stigma and money. Petty reasons to lose a life.

Please help us make permanent change here in Gloucester.
Chief Campanello

This is a radical approach, and stands in stark contrast to the reluctance exhibited by Governor Mike Pence in Indiana, who authorized a temporary needle-exchange program in Scott County, but continued to voice his general opposition to such programs.

The response in Facebook comments to Gloucester’s initiative is mostly positive, and the police department has been cordially answering negative comments.

In response to one woman who wrote, in part, “You did it to yourself, you knew it was a bad choice before you did it and you chose to anyways. Take responsibility for your own actions,” the GPD Facebook replied, “Thank you for your comment. Please read the research before you call it a choice. I agree that no one forces a pill down your throat, but once you’re at the stage of addiction, the brain and body take over … it’s not your choice … I did this work for a long time and believed how you do at one point. But I’ve read the research and I’ve changed my opinion.”

I spoke with Gloucester police chief Leonard Campanello about the development of this program, how the addiction epidemic has affected his city, and how he thinks police can help. A lightly edited and condensed transcript of our conversation follows.

Julie Beck: How have you seen the opiate crisis affecting Gloucester?

Leonard Campanello: What we see in Gloucester is no different than what we see in a lot of other communities. It’s pervasive, there’s not much in the way stopping the supply. Even though my detectives are out there every day intercepting or doing investigations that have to do with dealing, the supply keeps coming and it keeps coming nationally, not just here in the Northeast.

I think what we’re talking about here is a paradigm shift in police thinking, of what we’re trying to accomplish. In Gloucester we have a really really good foundation of collaboration between the local treatment centers, hospital groups, health organizations, and the police department, and we want to capitalize on that.

Our philosophy is that the problem’s everywhere, it’s been everywhere for quite a while, and we’re just not hiding it in Gloucester. We’re going to take care of the problem in Gloucester. That’s the difference.

If I could point to one thing, I guess it would be the fact that we had four suspected overdose deaths in the first three months of 2015. So it was a call to action, and this is the result.

No one starts out putting a needle into their arm. Nine times out of 10, it’s a pill form which is misused. The stigma of addicts has to be eliminated, because what we’re seeing is not the guy living under a bridge and coming out just to get his drugs.

What we’re seeing is people who may have started in a very legitimate place of pain and had a pain management schedule that included opioids, and because of the way opioids work, became addicted. When they were no longer legally available to them, they turned to illegal means, and when it became too expensive, they turned to a much cheaper and more available opioid, which is heroin. And that’s when it gets deadly.

We see this with groups of people that typically are not the people you’d expect. We see this now with younger people, we see this with veterans who’ve come back from terrible injuries, who’ve started out with pain management and ended up as users.
These are not people who are leeches on society, these are people that are legitimately addicted, no different than nicotine.Beck: Can you tell me about your background and how you developed your thinking on this? I saw in the Facebook post that you used to be a narcotics detective.

Campanello: I’ve been a police officer for 25 years, I was in another community, Saugus, Massachusetts, and took the chief’s job here about three years ago. In [Saugus] I was in a plainclothes narcotics capacity for seven years.

We got great results, we took a lot of dealers off the street, but it never impacted the users. Addicts could still get drugs readily. I think the policing community is starting to be aware that there is no such thing as the crime of addiction.

The ancillary crimes that go with it, possession of drugs, sometimes desperation to get the drugs leads to theft, burglary, things like that, those obviously are crimes.

But addiction itself is not a crime, it’s a disease. There’s an expectation among the public and even those who use this drug that the health community is there to help and to treat it as a disease, but the police department is there to treat it as a crime. And when we start seeing lives lost because of it, and we don’t see any results from an enforcement standpoint, we have to start looking at it differently.

Beck: What prompted the forum that you held on May 2? Who came, what did people have to say?

Campanello: On March 6, the police department put a Facebook post out, it basically said: “We’ve had four deaths. This is our stance. If you’re not involved in any type of drug activity, please be our eyes and ears out there, stay informed, contact us when you see suspicious activity.

If you are involved in drugs and you need help, please come to us.

If you are a dealer who is selling solely to profit off the misery of others, then we have no use for you, we’re going to find you, and get out of the city.”

That got us about 37,000 hits on Facebook, so we knew that there was widespread interest in the topic, and very polarized interest in the topic, and as a result of that, the health department, the city council, the mayor’s office, and the police department got a forum together.

During that time frame, between March 6 and May 2 when we had the forum, the police department was challenged to come up with ideas that were out of the box and dealt with the issue. The forum attracted about 200 people.
It was a city-council meeting at first, so everybody who could speak about the services that the city offers in terms of health, recovery, and prevention, they all had tables set up. And then the second half was a very frank discussion about what’s going on in Gloucester with the opiate problem.I announced that the police department had a couple of initiatives. One of those being [encouraging people to bring] drugs to the police station, the second being the nasal Narcan availability, the third being pressing legislators to take a hard look at this issue.

Beck: After the forum, you created the policy that if people bring drugs into the station, you’re not going to charge them with possession?

Campanello: Well, that starts on June 1. We needed to see what the response would be like, we needed to see public support for this. We’re closing in on 1.9 million Facebook hits right now, so we know that we’re onto something. The support has been overwhelming from state officials, the attorney general’s office, the governors office, and now we go to Washington to press that issue there.

Beck: Is this new program a big leap from the way the police department was approaching the problem before?

Campanello: I think it’s a leap in the thought process. We wanted to create a safe haven so that there was no fear between the police department and those who really needed help. When an addict is ready for help, you don’t want to miss that opportunity.

If it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and the addict has nowhere to go, we want them to come to us. And we’ll provide that service. Historically, law enforcement prosecutes illegal crimes. We’re trying to make a differentiation between the crimes that are committed by the addicts and the addiction itself. I think that’s what polarizes people, is that a typically conservative establishment is taking a relatively unilateral approach.

Beck: Could you walk me through the new program? After June 1, if someone walks in and asks you guys for help at the station, and they bring in the rest of their drug supply, what’s going to happen from there?Campanello: This doesn’t apply to being found on the street in a police investigation, but if someone’s ready enough to come to the police station, hand over their materials or their drugs and say “I need help,” we’re going to immediately put into motion our angel program, which is a group of volunteers.

Some may be members of the community who want to help, some may be recovering addicts, some may be trained as recovery coaches, but all will have the same purpose in mind: to support the addict in the beginning steps of their journey towards recovery, through the mired system of emergency-room intakes and assessments, and the follow-up treatments.

We know that when an addict seeks help on their own and they go to the hospital, there are a thousand different things going on that can make them leave that hospital—if the wait is too long, if they meet someone who they feel intimidated by, things like that. So we want that second voice there to reassure them and to motivate them to stay and get the treatment.

Beck: Like a sponsor.

Campanello: Almost like a sponsor, but this is a very simple answer. It’s as if you and I were at the dentist, and you don’t like having your cavities filled, and I was sitting there saying, “You can get through this.” It can be that simple. Or it can be more complicated, which is why we hope as the program progresses, we have recovery coaches who are specially trained in this and can offer even more assistance.

Beck: You’re going to have naloxone [brand name Narcan, a drug shown to often reverse the effects of opiate overdose] available at a local CVS. Was that difficult to get set up?

Campanello: We originally had an agreement with a local pharmacy, Conley’s. CVS was involved in the talk about this from the very beginning, but obviously they’re a regional entity and there were a couple of hoops to jump through there, but they have since come on board as well.

What we have is a system in which if you have insurance, you’re getting your nasal Narcan for $3 a pop, if you don’t have insurance, you’re getting it for $120 a dose.

We didn’t think it was a good enough reason to deny someone a life-saving medication due to failure to pay or failure to have insurance. We knew that we could assist, in such an ironic way, by using our seized moneys from drug investigations—[for the money] to go from the hands of the people that put the poison in the addicts’ hands, back to saving lives of the addicts.

I do want to make a statement about nasal Narcan, for those people out there who say, “Why should we enable the addict? Why should we give the addict false hope that there’s a drug that will bring them back to life and they’ll be fine, they can keep using?” That’s a stigma, that’s incorrect.
If we lived in a perfect world, we would never need nasal Narcan. The fact that there’s a drug that can save a life is the only thing we should be dealing with right now. The problem exists. The problem is here. If we can save a life and we can have another shot at that person, the reasons for not doing that should have nothing to do with money or insurance, or who’s paying the bill.Beck: So if someone can’t pay, they go into Conley’s or CVS and they just fill out paperwork, and then you guys cover it?

Campanello: The prescription part is deregulated, so anybody can go in and get it, but they still have to say who they are and attest to that they don’t have insurance.

Conley’s has agreed to assist people who don’t have insurance with gaining either public insurance through MassHealth, or private insurance. So they’ll explore their options while they’re there, but no one will be denied Narcan because they don’t have insurance or they can’t pay for it.

Beck: They’ll just bill it to the police department instead?

Campanello: Exactly. And they’re able to get one dose every 30 days, so we don’t have repeat customers. And we’re not the federal government, we can’t support this program throughout Massachussetts. We need legislators, we need other cities and towns to step up and decide what they want to do with it as well.

Beck: You’re going to Washington, D.C. soon, right? To talk with legislators?

Campanello: Yeah, Senators Warren, Markey, and Representative Seth Moulton. And I was just asked to meet with the Office of National Drug-Control Policy director. So it’s gotten a lot of attention and we’re happy about that. Hopefully we push some envelopes there as well.

Beck: What are you going to be asking for?

Campanello: Our agendas are going to be very collaborative. We’re going to applaud the good work the government has done so far and we’re going to try to see what more can be done in collaboration with pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
We’re going to try to talk about federal and state drug seizure and civil-asset seizure, and if more percentages of that money can be distributed among cities and towns and that money earmarked for recovery and addiction services. That doesn’t cost the taxpayer a dime. I honestly don’t expect anybody who I’m meeting to be adversarial, I think we’re going to look for ways that we can move forward on this.Beck: What do you think the role of police is in addressing the addiction epidemic?

Campanello: I can only speak for what works in Gloucester. I think that for us, law enforcement needed to take a more active role, a more compassionate role, in exploring the social problem of addiction rather than the criminal problem of addiction. So that’s what we did.

I think law enforcement in general needs to focus on supply as well, but we need to be doing much more with demand. I think that we’re getting close to really proving that attacking the supply is not working and I think that we need to spend a lot more time on the demand.

This initiative is one of the ways that we can be compassionate, progressive, bipartisan, and unilateral, because we’re talking about saving lives, and I think the bottom line is it’s the right thing to do.

No matter what entity we are, whether we’re the police, whether we’re responsible for the medical field, mental illness, anything, I think this is the right thing to do.


7 Awful realities of summer in Lebanon

Note: I started to adore Winter season in Lebanon a few years ago. Her is why.

If hell was on earth, it would be summertime in Lebanon. Summer is horrible everywhere but in Lebanon, it’s extra awful.

It’s not just the excruciating heat that gets to you, it’s the things that go along with it, such as the garbage crisis (that has been temporary taken care of and looming again for no sustainable solutions), electricity problem, water shortages, mosquitoes…

How else are you going to feel the complete misery of summer?

After last year, I don’t think anyone is emotionally, mentally or even psychologically ready for summer.

Dalia El Ali Dalia El Ali. May 21st, 2016 11:00AM 

1. Shaving becomes a task you have to mentally, emotionally and physically prepare for



2. You think it’s a good idea to apply makeup before leaving the house and end up with this mess


3. Humidity takes a toll on your hair and existence


Pretty sure there’s a lost bird inside…

4. The amount of car honking makes you question whether killing another human being is really a bad thing


5. And there’s the garbage crisis that still hasn’t been resolved…


Enough said.

6. You’re afraid to sit down because you’ll end up sticking to the chair and ripping a piece of your skin when you get up


7. You then realize that getting out of the shower in the first place was the biggest mistake you ever made



I kept a spare hand;

It is one of those early morning sleep dreams.

I am at the university and there is this small brunette.

I am field experimenting with passing girl students.

This heavy lipped brunette stops girls and asks to shake hands;

She takes the extended hand and turns her face and licks her lips;

She is contemplating the rouge of her lips in a hand mirror.

I am curious and I ask for the hand of one of the pretty girls;

I kiss her hand and then demand to keep her hand;

She retrieves her hand;

I am left with a spare hand in my hand;

The pretty girl looks totally intact.

I am holding a warm hand that fits mine admirably.

I am grabbing this warm hand with my five fingers;

I am not hiding this extra hand;

I am walking around with a warm companion;

I am very much happy and elated.

The next morning I saw the same girl;

She is still whole and pretty.

We have a couple of hours to spare for our next courses.

I invited her to visit the new remodeled library.

The library has been changed drastically;

The interior is ugly.

There is no vast waiting room with directions.

You are facing a brick wall as you enter;

A couple of elevators and side escalators

That takes you to the first and second levels.

The whole and pretty girl steps on the right escalator and I take the left one.

As usually, I assume that we are meeting on the first level.

I am waiting but she disappeared.

Somehow the architect or interior designer decided

To leave strips of beach sand separating the escalators at each level.

I see students holding on their sandals

And having fun walking barefoot on the sand.

It smack as the design is meant to attract kids to an enclosed playground version.

I lost sight of the girl. I think I also lost the spare warm hand.

I could do with the whole girl, but I miss the companionship of the warm hand.

I should re-run this dream

And make sure to hold on better on what counts most to me.

This is very much my life story.

I tend to get lost when in groups of people.

I tend to tell the group of the time and place

Where I will meet with them again and then get lost.

I recall visiting one of the USA Disney Lands.

Most probably it is in Orlando.

I was with a large party of kids and relatives.

I got bored waiting for the entire group

To trying each game.

We never met again until sundown.

At each game I would look around;

After the fun, I would look around and wait some more.

The group did the same.

Joining cruises is much easier:

They tell you when and where to meet again.

This program suits me grandly.

The problem is that tight subgroups wanted to catch up with me;

As if I am their guide or knew what I was touring.

It was a game of losing the crowd.

I am either much ahead or far behind the trekking parties.

I should re-run this warm hand dream attached to my hand.

And make sure that I hold on to what counts most to me.

Stopped the Taliban from shutting down her school: Sakena Yacoobi opened secret schools

When the Taliban closed all the girls’ schools in Afghanistan, Sakena Yacoobi set up new schools, in secret, educating thousands of women and men.

In this fierce, funny talk, she tells the jaw-dropping story of two times when she was threatened to stop teaching — and shares her vision for rebuilding her beloved country.

Speech in May, 2015

Sakena Yacoobi. Education activist. At the Afghan Institute of Learning, Sakena Yacoobi provides teacher training to Afghan women, supporting education for girls and boys throughout the country. Full bio


(Arabic) I seek refuge in Allah from cursed Satan. In the Name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.

0:15 (English) I was born in a middle class family. My father was five years old when he lost his father, but by the time I was born, he was already a businessman.

But it didn’t make a difference to him if his children were going to be a boy or a girl: they were going to go to school. So I guess I was the lucky one.

My mother had 16 pregnancies. From 16 pregnancies, five of us are alive.

You can imagine as a child what I went through. Day to day, I watched women being carried to a graveyard, or watched children going to a graveyard.

At that time, when I finished my high school, I really wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a doctor to help women and children. So I completed my education, but I wanted to go to university.

Unfortunately, in my country, there wasn’t a dormitory for girls, so I was accepted in medical school, but I could not go there. So as a result, my father sent me to America.

I came to America. I completed my education. While I was completing my education, my country was invaded by Russia.

And do you know that at the time I was completing my education, I didn’t know what was going on with my family or with my country. There were months, years, I didn’t know about it.

My family was in a refugee camp. So as soon as I completed my education, I brought my family to America. I wanted them to be safe.

But where was my heart? My heart was in Afghanistan.

Day by day, when I listened to the news, when I followed what was going on with my country, my heart was breaking up. I really wanted to go back to my country, but at the same time I knew I could not go there, because there was no place for me.

I had a good job. I was a professor at a university. I earned good money. I had a good life. My family was here. I could live with them. But I wasn’t happy. I wanted to go back home.

So I went to the refugee camp. And when I went to the refugee camp in Pakistan, there were 7.5 million refugees.About 90 percent of them were women and children.

Most of the men have been killed or they were in war. And you know, in the refugee camp, when I went day-to-day to do a survey, I found things you never could imagine.

I saw a widow with five to eight children sitting there and weeping and not knowing what to do.

I saw a young woman have no way to go anywhere, no education, no entertainment, no place to even live.

I saw young men that had lost their father and their home, and they are supporting the family as a 10-to-12-year old boy — being the head of the household, trying to protect their sister and their mother and their children.

 it was a very devastating situation. My heart was beating for my people, and I didn’t know what to do.

At that moment, we talk about momentum. At that moment, I felt, what can I do for these people? How could I help these people? I am one individual. What can I do for them?

at that moment, I knew that education changed my life. It transformed me. It gave me status. It gave me confidence. It gave me a career. It helped me to support my family, to bring my family to another country, to be safe.

And I knew what I should give to my people is education and health, and that’s what I went after.

But do you think it was easy? No, because at that time, education was banned for girls, completely.

And also, by Russia invading Afghanistan, people were not trusting anyone. It was very hard to come and say, “I want to do this.” Who am I? Somebody who comes from the United States. Somebody who got educated here. Did they trust me? Of course not.

I really needed to build the trust in this community. How am I going to do that?

I went and surveyed and looked . I asked. Finally, I found one man. He was 80 years old. He was a mullah. I went to his tent in the camp, and I asked him, “I want to make you a teacher.”

And he looked at me, and he said, “Crazy woman, crazy woman, how do you think I can be a teacher?” And I told him, “I will make you a teacher.” Finally, he accepted my offer, and once I started a class in his compound, the word spread all over.

In a matter of one year, we had 25 schools set up, 15,000 children going to school, and it was amazing.

But of course, we’re doing all our work, we were giving teacher training. We were training women’s rights, human rights, democracy, rule of law. We were giving all kinds of training.

And one day, I tell you, one day I was in the office in Peshawar, Pakistan. All of a sudden, I saw my staff running to rooms and locking the doors and telling me, “Run away, hide!”

And you know, as a leader, what do you do? You’re scared. You know it’s dangerous. You know your life is on the line. But as a leader, you have to hold it together.

You have to hold it together and show strength. So I said, “What’s going on?” And these people were pouring into my office. So I invited them to the office. They came, and there were nine of them — nine Taliban. They were the ugliest looking men you can ever see.

Very mean-looking people, black clothes, black turban, and they pour into my office. And I invited them to have a seat and have tea. They said no. They are not going to drink tea. And of course, with the tone of voice they were using, it was very scary, but I was really shaking up. But also I was strong, holding myself up.

By that time, you know how I dress — I dress from head to toe in a black hijab. The only thing you could see, my eyes. They asked me, “What are you doing? Don’t you know that school is banned for girls? What are you doing here?” And you know, I just looked at them, and I said, “What school? Where is the school?”

And they look at my face, and they said, “You are teaching girls here.” I said, “This is a house of somebody. We have some students coming, and they are all learning Koran, Holy Book. And you know, Koran says that if you learn the Holy Book, the woman, they can be a good wife, and they can obey their husband.”

And I tell you one thing: that’s the way you work with those people, and you know —

 So by that time, they started speaking Pashto. They talked to each other, and they said, “Let’s go, leave her alone, she’s OK.” And you know, this time, I offered them tea again, and they took a sip and they left.

 my staff poured into my office. They were scared to death. They didn’t know why they didn’t kill me. They didn’t know why they didn’t take me away. But everybody was happy to see me. Very happy, and I was happy to be alive, of course.

I was happy to be alive. But also, as we continuously gave training during the fall of the Taliban — of course during the Taliban there is another story. We went underground and we provided education for 80 schoolgirls, 3,000 students underground, and continuously we trained.

With the fall of the Taliban, we went into the country, and we opened school after school. We opened women’s learning center. We continuously opened clinics. We worked with mothers and children. We had reproductive health training. We had all kinds of training that you can imagine. I was very happy.

I was delighted with the outcome of my work. And one day, with four trainers and one bodyguard, I was going up north of Kabul, and all of a sudden, again, I was stopped in the middle of the road by 19 young men.

Rifles on their shoulders, they blocked the road. And I told my driver, “What’s going on?” And the driver said, “I don’t know.” He asked them. They said, “We have nothing to do with you.” They called my name. They said, “We want her.” My bodyguard got out, said, “I can answer you. What do you want?” They said, “Nothing.”

They called my name. And by that time, the women are yelling and screaming inside the car. I am very shaken up, and I told myself, this is it. This time, we all are going to be killed. There is no doubt in my mind.

But still, the moment comes, and you take strength from whatever you believe and whatever you do. It’s in your heart. You believe in your worth, and you can walk on it.

I just hold myself on the side of the car. My leg was shaking, and I got outside. And I asked them, “What can I do for you?” You know what they said to me? They said, “We know who you are. We know where you are going. Every day you go up north here and there. You train women, you teach them and also you give them an opportunity to have a job. You build their skills. How about us?”

 “And you know, how about us? What are we going to do?” I looked at them, and I said, “I don’t know.”

They said, “It’s OK. The only thing we can do, what we know, from the time we’re born, we just hold the gun and kill. That’s all we know.” And you know what that means. It’s a trap to me, of course. So I walk out of there. They said, “We’ll let you go, go.”

And so I walked into the car, I sit in the car, and I told the driver, “Turn around and go back to the office.” At that time, we only were supporting girls. We only had money for women to train them, to send them to school, and nothing else.

 By the time I came to the office, of course my trainers were gone. They ran away home. Nobody stayed there. My bodyguard was the only one there, and my voice was completely gone. I was shaken up, and I sat on my table, and I said, “What am I going to do?” How am I going to solve this problem? Because we had training going on up north already. Hundreds of women were there coming to get training.

 I was sitting there, all of a sudden, at this moment, talking about momentum, we are, at that moment, one of my wonderful donors called me about a report. And she asked me, “Sakena?” And I answered her. She said, “It’s not you. What’s wrong with you?” I said, “Nothing.” I tried to cover.

No matter what I tried to do, she didn’t believe me, and she asked me again. “OK, tell me what’s going on?” I told her the whole story. At that time, she said, “OK, you go next time, and you will help them. You will help them.” And when, two days later, I went the same route, and do you know, they were not in here, they were a little back further, the same young men, standing up there and holding the rifle and pointing to us to stop the car.

So we stopped the car. I got out. I said, “OK, let’s go with me.” And they said, “Yes.” I said, “On one condition, that whatever I say, you accept it.” And they said, yes, they do.

So I took them to the mosque, and to make a long story short, I told them I’d give them teachers. Today, they are the best trainers. They learn English, they learn how to be teachers, they learn computers, and they are my guides. Every area that is unknown to us in the mountain areas, they go with me. They are ahead, and we go. And they protect us.

That tells you that education transforms people. When you educate people, they are going to be different, and today all over, we need to work for gender equality. We cannot only train women but forget about the men, because the men are the real people who are giving women the hardest time.

So we started training men because the men should know the potential of women, know how much these potential men has, and how much these women can do the same job they are doing. So we are continuously giving training to men, and I really believe strongly.

I live in a country that was a beautiful country. I just want to share this with you. It was a beautiful country, beautiful, peaceful country. We were going everywhere. Women were getting education: lawyer, engineer, teacher, and we were going from house to house. We never locked our doors.

But you know what happened to my country. Today, people cannot walk out of their door without security issues. But we want the same Afghanistan we had before. And I want to tell you the other side.

Today, the women of Afghanistan are working very hard. They are earning degrees. They are training to be lawyers. They are training to be doctors, back again. They are training to be teachers, and they are running businesses. So it is so wonderful to see people like that reach their complete potential, and all of this is going to happen.

16:13 I want to share this with you, because of love, because of compassion, and because of trust and honesty. If you have these few things with you, you will accomplish.

We have one poet, Mawlānā Rūmī. He said that by having compassion and having love, you can conquer the world. And I tell you, we could. And if we could do it in Afghanistan, I am sure 100 percent that everyone can do it in any part of the world.




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