Aspen Moms for Moms run by local mom, Rachel Goodman, is a hyper-local social network for mothers to connect, share information, find and offer support and be inspired to get involved. Moms can find local events, discounts and deals, items for sale, resources for moms who own their own businesses, and much more. Mothers from pregnancy through grand-motherhood are encouraged to join their free local Moms for Moms site throughout the valley Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood or Rifle. Don’t live in these areas? Don’t fret, many cities have similar forums. We encourage you to do an online search to find yours. Moms for Moms Communities are building stronger communities by engaging mothers, and we look forward to collaborating with them to foster our mission to improve relations between the West and the Muslim world by working together to alleviate poverty and illiteracy via sustainable educational and economic development in Southwest Asia. It takes a village!
We are thrilled to announce that Adam Ellick, a New York Times Correspondent, will be joining us for our 6th Annual Fundraiser to share Malala’s story through his award-winning documentary, Class Dismissed.
Our Annual Fundraiser Celebration will be held on July 1st from 5:30-7:30pm at 796 Little Woody Creek Road, Woody Creek, Colorado. We cordially invite you to join us in celebrating, yet another successfully year of continuous support for our educational programs for children and vocational training for the women of Pakistan.
Thank you again for all your incredible support and we look forward to seeing you on Monday!
To view more details about the event please click here.
Now that it’s the beginning of the year, we are all making plans for this years vacations and philanthropic events. Be sure to add “Klimb4Kashmir“ to your list – a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to Pakistan and Nepal with a great group of individuals!
May 4th-11th join us on a trek and cultural adventure to the beautiful Himalayan Mountains in Nepal. There is also an optional pre-trek tour with Marshall Direct Fund to visit sights in and around Islamabad, meet students at MDF schools, and participate in cultural activities in Pakistan May 1st-4th.
We suggest participants raise $2,500 in sponsorship to support Marshall Direct Fund’s mission in educating children and women in Pakistan to improve relations between the West and Muslim world. All proceeds raised are tax deductible. For more information on the trip details and prices please see http://www.klimb4kashmir.org.
The trip has been carefully planned each day with meals and lodging provided throughout the trek. For more information in regards to the step-by-step details, you can find a full itinerary at One World Trekking
We hope to see you on May 1st in Pakistan and/or May 4th in Nepal for an amazing once in a lifetime experience!
The snow is falling, holiday lights are being hung, and The Gallerie
is hosting a trunk show soiree to support Marshall Direct Fund!
This upcoming Friday, December 14th, please join us at The Gallerie
and change the lives of women and children in Pakistan through
The Gallerie is a high end boutique in Aspen that carries finely
chosen women’s and men’s fashion. Recently, The Gallerie launched
their own line, Gray, inspired by natural surroundings between the
Mountains of Aspen and Beaches of California, as well as the designers
love for high style. They are long time supporters of MDF that have
offered fashion advice and market demand info to female entrepreneurs
in Pakistan. They plan to carry the products that disadvantaged women
in Pakistan are starting to create. In the meantime, they are donating
10% of all items sold during the trunk sale to benefit MDF. We hope to
see you there!
Details: Friday, December 14th at 5:00 to 7:30pm
Location: The Gallerie 520 East Durant Avenue, Aspen
Find exquisite Christmas gifts that support a good cause. To RSVP
please contact 970-544-4893 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes it takes a hero to notice or be reminded what is important. In a country like Pakistan where girls are systematically disenfranchised, a 14-year-old girl is an unlikely candidate. Malala spoke out on behalf of girls in Pakistan and their right to education. After being hunted down and shot in the head by the Taliban while boarding her school bus on October 9, 2012, she now has the world’s attention.
Malala’s father ran a girls’ school in Swat Valley, a mountainous region with over 1,000,000 residents close to the country’s capital, Islamabad. In 2009, the world watched in horror as the Taliban took over Swat and instituted its gruesome system of law and order. When the Taliban ordered girls’ schools be closed, Malala and her father defied their orders, kept their school open, and courageously defended the right of education for girls. During the terrifying reign of the Taliban, Malala fearlessly blogged her experience for the BBC and was featured in documentaries by The New York Times.
As Malala fights for her life in a hospital bed, the world is reminded of the perilous state of affairs in Pakistan. Predicted to be the world’s fourth most populous country by 2050, Pakistan has over 17 million school-aged children out of school – that means one in ten of the world’s out of school children resides in Pakistan! Public education is inaccessible to most children and when it is accessible much of the curriculum enforces rote learning and a narrow-minded worldviews that fuels negative stereotypes. Private schools are cost-prohibitive to most families of the country as they survive on less than $2 a day. The other alternative, madrassas (religious schools), offer limited knowledge with their focus on religious education. What future lays ahead for the children, particularly the girls of Pakistan?
The fact that Malala was targeted by the Taliban is evidence that they know that education of girls will be their undoing. Since educated girls bring about economic growth faster to a country than any other measure, the unstable, illiterate, impoverished, black market gun-running and drug-smuggling friendly environment extremists thrive in will no longer be available to them when all girls go to school.
At MDF we are convinced that education, awareness of cultural diversity, and economic empowerment build the groundwork for peace in a region of the world critical to international security. Currently we are the only organization in the Roaring Fork Valley providing education to girls in Pakistan. We are keeping daily tabs on the health of Malala and have great hope for her survival, for her vision to become a reality.
Girls in Pakistan need access to quality education where they are taught multiple subjects, critical thinking, and learn skills to support entry into the workforce so they can overcome conditions of poverty. The Girl Effect is well known in the International Development world but what is needed here is The Malala Effect. Girls in conflict countries are given the least amount of support than any human being on the face of the earth. Investing in girls in conflict countries will do more than just eradicate poverty and illiteracy, it provides an additional return on investment, it helps create peace and stability. For people interested in supporting the dreams of Malala, please consider supporting MDF, we have a scholarship fund specifically for girls. Please visit our website at www.marshalldirectfund.org. Thank you to all of our current donors. You can also donate to the Malala Family Fund that has been set up. You can also join the campaign to save Malala and girls’ education.
The Marshall Direct Fund is excited to announce our partnership with Teach a Man to Fish, a NGO focused on supporting education initiatives across the developing world. Founded in London in 2006, Teach a Man to Fish began by funding innovative projects that share its mission of financially sustainable education to reduce poverty and unemployment, as well as fostering entrepreneurship.
MDF has been competing in the School Enterprise Challenge, a business competition to reward entrepreneurship in schools across the globe. This involves submitting a business plan and review of results of student-led enterprises. You can follow MDF’s vocational school progress via blog: http://peaceoftheaction.wordpress.com/ The competition distributes over $40,000 in prizes, encourages global partnerships between schools and empowers students with valuable skills to tackle new business endeavors.
MDF is the proud recipient of the October, 2012 blog of the month award!
MDF Board Member wins Human Rights Award
Pakistani journalist and daughter of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, Shehrbano Taseer, received a Human Rights Award during an annual award dinner in New York City on Saturday, October 22, 2011.
Human Rights First honored Shehrbano “for her courage in carrying out her father’s legacy of religious tolerance.” She has published a series of op-ed pieces calling for change in Pakistan, and has openly criticized those who glorify her father’s murderer, said the press release.
World Literacy Day observed
‘Constitution envisages compulsory education up to secondary level’
Daily Times – Friday, September 09, 2011
KARACHI: Sindh Senior Minister for Education & Literacy Pir Mazharul Haq has said that the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan provides for free and compulsory education from primary to secondary level and the state is responsible to implement the same.
In his message, read out by Secretary Education Muhammad Siddique Memon to the participants of a walk held here on Thursday to mark World Literacy Day, the minister quoted the Article 37/B of constitution, which says, “Free and compulsory education up to secondary level is the constitutional obligation of the state”.
He said the theme of International Literacy Day is ‘Literacy and Peace’ which make people independent and ensure their participation in social system to enlighten them with civil rights. The literacy also builds self-confidence in the people and enhances their interest for participation in political and social system.
He said literacy is essential for the eradication of poverty, curbing of population growth, achieving gender equity and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy. “Literate people are better geared to meet pressing development challenges,” he added.
He said the Provincial Plan of Action 2003 on Education For All (EFA) was being prepared in the wake of challenges being faced by the Sindh government in achieving the goals set by Jometin Conference 1990, subsequently revised in Dakkar Conference 2000.
Present Peoples’ government is taking serious efforts to achieve the targets before the specified time till 2015, he said.
EFA Units have been established in all 23 districts and at provincial level in the year 2008-09 as the first step towards positive progress.
Awareness campaigns were initiated at union council, taluka/town, district, regional and provincial level to aware the people about the dangers of illiteracy and their responsibilities individually and jointly at all levels.
Girls’ enrollment was also enhanced through re-opening of 400 closed girls’ schools through Rural Support Programmes, in which 12,000 girls students continued their education.
A printer friendly copy is available here Daily Times – Site Edition [Printer Friendly Version]
by Fritz Lodge
This summer, after nearly two years of bureaucratic wrangling, the first of Pakistan’s famous mangoes will appear in fruit aisles across the United States. Unfortunately, their arrival will turn few heads. Though officially the world’s sweetest mango (by scientific consensus) the fortunes of this newest export seem unlikely to fill the schedule of Pakistan’s eloquent ambassador to Washington, Hussein Haqqani. Rather, it is the bitter state of his country’s already sour relations with the United States that will tax his talents for the foreseeable future. Long dubious of Islamabad’s commitment to the fight against militant Islam, American officials and lawmakers have been increasingly inclined to read the discovery of Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottobad as damning evidence of complicity at the upper levels of Pakistan’s intelligence establishment. Now, the murky circumstances surrounding an unsuccessful raid on two bomb-making facilities have led the Obama administration to announce the suspension, or even cancellation, of nearly $800 million from the more than $2 billion in assistance provided annually to its South Asian ally. But should the mango’s arrival be so easily ignored?
The furor in Washington over Pakistan’s lukewarm commitment to the ‘War on Terror’ is hardly undeserved – CIA Deputy Director Michael J Morell rated Pakistan’s cooperation on counterterrorism operations as a “three” on a scale of ten – yet the question is not whether funds should be cut, but how they should be allocated. U.S. policy in Pakistan is understandably dominated by America’s interests in neighboring Afghanistan. Accordingly, the vast majority of aid to Pakistan is composed of security assistance, and the cooperation won by this largesse has been vital to military efforts in the region. But the blind bundling of foreign policy into one security-focused ‘Af-Pak’ package fatally ignores the human element of counterterrorism. American predator drone strikes may effectively “bug splat” (as the lingo goes) bad guys, but they are essentially negative in nature. Even if their targets are destroyed without killing innocents, – which 90% of Pakistanis do not believe to be the case – their success will only prevent destruction, not create growth. The cultivation of an export market for Pakistani mangos in America might, on the other hand, offer jobs and livelihoods to thousands of impoverished farmers and generate millions in new revenue. Such positive action must accompany the negative in any counterterrorism strategy if crucial “hearts and minds” are to be swayed. However, mangos aside, the provision of this kind of assistance is woefully anemic. The Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill passed in October 2009 pledged to triple economic assistance to $7.5 billion over five years, but a 2010 Pew Poll found that only 55% of Pakistanis were even aware that their government receives funding from the United States and, of these, only 27% believed a significant portion of that funding to be directed towards development.
In short, American policy is, as Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development (CGD) notes, “way off course in Pakistan.” A fixation on security has led us to “neglect low-cost, low-risk investments in jobs, growth, and the long haul of democracy building.” In a political system crippled by corruption, and an economy struggling to employ its rapidly growing population, such neglect must not continue. Fortunately, the U.S. development mission in Pakistan is not beyond repair, but cash and cannons will be of little further use. Instead, a June 2011 report by the CGD suggests, what is needed is a reorganization and redirection of aid efforts. The combination of USAID programs in Pakistan under a single director, as well as the posting of development goals and data on the progress of those programs in one accessible location, would help streamline the messy distribution of AID funds. While, a temporary suspension of trade tariffs, duties, and quotas on exports to the U.S. would help rebuild trust between the two countries, and breathe life into Pakistan’s underutilized manufacturing capacity.
Similarly, addressing the dismal state of Pakistan’s education system would go far in proving a real commitment to the welfare of the Pakistani people. Pakistan, the sixth largest country in the world (by population), currently places 143rd in country league tables on education expenditures (a measly 2.6% of GDP). No wonder, then, that only 47% of Pakistani boys, and a shocking 22% of girls, complete even primary level schooling. Less than 19% move on to upper secondary school. Education is the foundation of any modern economy and sweeping reform of Pakistan’s bloated military budget is needed to combat its learning crisis. Still, American agencies can help push such reforms at the policy level, while private charitable organizations have also proven quite effective at the grassroots level. Greg Mortenson, writer of the best-selling book “Three Cups of Tea”, and previously the most successful proponent of Pakistani education in the United States, has recently been discredited by an April 2011 “60 minutes” exposé, which revealed his widespread misallocation of charitable donations. But the dream of an educated Pakistan should not be thrown out with his dirty linen. The Marshall Direct Fund, a small charitable outfit based in Carbondale Colorado, presents one attractive alternative. Eschewing Mortenson’s expensive model of constructing whole schools from scratch in rural areas, the Fund leases cheap space and focuses on teaching in order to provide alternatives for Pakistani youth in the urban areas where a majority of terrorist recruitment takes place. The charity also runs a program called “Global Kids Connect”, which seeks to connect young American school children with their Pakistani counterparts and humanize, for both sides, a cultural ‘other’ that is so often defined by inflammatory and sensationalist rhetoric. Though small, MDF has put its limited budget to excellent use, and the example set by its generosity ripples far beyond those students directly affected.
Such individual generosity, combined with a dedicated effort at the policy level, can help reverse the worrying trends developing in US-Pakistani relations. Economic uncertainty and ramshackle progress on security have made Pakistan-bashing an easy past-time in Washington, and efforts to cut U.S. aid are well underway. Perhaps, they should be; however, the antics of Pakistani leadership (especially within the ISI) should not lead Washington to abandon the country. The temptation to view Pakistan solely through the prism of security is strong but essentially misguided. Relations must be approached holistically if American goals in the region are ever to be fully realized. Military solutions are vital in the fight against violent extremism in the region, but that dead horse has been thoroughly beaten. Mangoes and education could present a faster path to stability than bullets alone.
To print or download a PDF version of the article please click Mangoes and Schools: Rethinking U.S. Aid to Pakistan.
Daily brief: Pakistani naval officers to face court martial
By Andrew Lebovich, August 4, 2011
A day in court
Pakistan’s military will reportedly court martial three naval officers in connection with the failure to prevent an attack carried out by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on the country’s Mehran naval base in May, which resulted in the destruction of key surveillance aircraft and the deaths of 10 security personnel (ET, Reuters). The officers include the base’s former commander Commodore Raja Tahir, as well as two subordinates.
Violence continues to roil Karachi, as Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain and officials from the Awami National Party (ANP) called for Pakistan’s army to be deployed to tamp down the fighting (DT, ET, ET, Dawn, DT). Hundreds of paramilitary Rangers have spread throughout Karachi, and the government in Sindh province Wednesday authorized Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari to head negotiations with the city’s political parties (Tel, DT, ET). As part of the talks, Dawn reports that Zardari is expected to ask the MQM to rejoin Pakistan’s governing coalition (Dawn).
China toned down its criticism of Pakistan in the wake of violence in the country’s western Xinjiang province last weekend, lauding the latter’s counterterrorism efforts in a public statement released Wednesday (ET). Meanwhile, Dawn reports on the looming September discussion at the United Nations on American efforts to halt the production of fissile nuclear materials, and NBC’s Robert Windrem discusses the possibility that American forces may attempt to “snatch” Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the event of crisis in the country (Dawn, MSNBC). And U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said in a visit to Baluchistan that the province is “very significant” for the United States, as unidentified gunmen destroyed three NATO fuel trucks near the Baluch town of Dasht (Dawn, Dawn).
Four stories close out today’s Pakistan news: The Punjab home office has reportedly concluded in an intelligence report that certain religious schools in the province are promoting radicalization, and have increased their activities in the past six weeks (ET). Fighting between the army and militants continues in Kurram agency (ET). A new report from Oxfam International has concluded that 36 percent of Pakistanis are undernourished, while two-thirds of the population spends more than half of their income on food (ET, Dawn). And 16 Pakistanis held prisoner by human traffickers in Afghanistan have been repatriated (Dawn).
The Times reports that a statement released recently by the Taliban calling on the United States and foreign forces to, “seek a face-saving exit from Afghanistan in understanding with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” could indicate a shift from previous Taliban demands for a withdrawal from Afghanistan before peace negotiations could take place (NYT). Observers note that any negotiations or peace process with the Taliban are nascent, and Taliban violence continues unabated. However, former Afghan prime minister Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, who served between 1995 and 1996, told The News that Taliban officials indicated to him that the group would negotiate after a public commitment from the United States to withdraw (The News). And Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, the body tasked with promoting reconciliation with the Taliban, has appointed Algerian Abdullah Anas, the son-in-law of the legendary slain anti-Soviet militant organizer Abdullah Azzam, to represent the council officially in Europe (Pajhwok).
A Taliban car bomb on Thursday killed Payenda Khan, a junior official in Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) in the northern province of Kunduz (BBC, AFP). In eastern Afghanistan, a man wearing an Afghan National Police uniform shot and killed a NATO soldier Thursday (Reuters, AP). And Bloomberg notes the rising recruitment of women into Afghanistan’s security forces, a role for women in Afghan society that may be at risk following a potential deal with the Taliban (Bloomberg). Bonus read: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “Fighting a 50 percent solution in Afghanistan” (FP).
The cat’s meow
The Post brings to light the months-long debate at the U.S. embassy in Kabul over the fate of the 25 to 30 cats that populate the embassy grounds (Post). Some staffers have been fighting a push to exterminate the cats, which reportedly have scratched or bitten at least one embassy employee.
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