Briquettes Into Bridges

Message from Dina Fesler

March 25, 2010

Welcome to the launch of “Briquettes into Bridges,” our groundbreaking, peace-building project that will bring the world together while creating financial independence for displaced Afghan families and provide positive options for at-risk people caught in a very difficult world situation.

The idea for this project began last December when I had the chance to meet many of the children living in the Charahee Qambar IDP camp during my trip to Kabul. They lack proper food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and education. They live in conditions unfit for human existence, and play amidst open sewage, garbage and roaming wild dogs. Worst of all, they are unable to turn to their parents for security and comfort. When I saw a tiny baby lying on the ground, his father told me that the baby was dying and that he had no means to do anything to save him. With tears in his eyes he asked me if I would take him as a last possible hope of saving him, while the baby’s mother sobbed inconsolably from inside their mud home.

That was a life-changing moment for me, and begged the ultimate question: what lengths will a desperate parent go to in order to ensure his children’s survival?

In this case things turned out okay. Our team took baby Rahim, and his father Mira Jan, to the hospital where, fortunately, doctors were able to save him in time. Despite our already busy work schedule, we went to the hospital every day to check on Rahim’s progress, visit with Mira Jan, and simply let them both know how much we care. Over the course of two weeks, it became clear that our role in Rahim’s recovery involved much more than just paying his medical bills. Likewise, Mira Jan’s personal stories as a war survivor struggling to care for his family humbled us more than words can say. We discovered that the bond that linked us—our love for our children- transcended nationality, race, religion and socio-economics. We became friends.

So our team rolled up or sleeves and got to work, starting with the launch of the Helmand Children’s Medical Fund (Phase I) where we went back to the camp and got 386 of the most critically ill camp children desperately needed medical treatment.

As of today,  the larger goal of Briquettes Into Bridges (Phase II) is to help the camp parents create sustainable incoming generating businesses so they will never be in such a desperate position that they have to give their children away, or join insurgencies, for survival.

But we have another important goal, as well! It is to give the opportunity for other Americans and Afghans to become friends. For the next three months, you are invited to follow along on this unprecedented adventure as six inspirational Afghans trainees and six inspirational American project donors come together to share their lives and stories, communicate on the training and business launch process, and offer mutual encouragement, support and inspiration. You will discover that Afghans and Americans are more similar than we are different. We all love our children, we want them to be strong, healthy and successful adults …and we are willing to work hard to support them.

Our children are the future of the world; Afghan children, as well as American children. By helping these families get back on their feet economically, we are working to ensure a safer future for all our kids.

-Dina Fesler

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