By Cynthia Artin, edited by Jim Luce
New York, N.Y. What makes Andeisha Farid unique is her extraordinary courage combined with her extraordinary vision for providing orphaned children in Afghanistan not only basic food, clothing and shelter – but access to the world of ideas, arts and cultures. The range in the quality of “orphanages” in Afghanistan is broad, and reports on neglect, corruption and abuse far outnumbered reports on creativity, compassion and innovation – until Andeisha’s voice began to ascend – and transcend.
What makes Andeisha Farid a true, modern hero is that the more she developed and grew the Afghan Child Education and Care Organization (AFCECO), founded by Andeisha when she was 20 years old) the more threats she and her family and team received from factions within the country that do not wish to see girls educated and girls and boys exposed to anything other than extreme religious beliefs.
What makes Andeisha Farid successful in addition to her tireless energy and quiet grace is her ability to share stories, with the help of her talented and devoted team, and to attract the attention of world leaders and the mass media. In fact, given all of the coverage so far, it is challenging to find a new way to write about all the ACFECO has accomplished, so we will simply provide links to the stories and videos already available in the compilation below, some photos, and a few memories of my meeting with Andeisha last year in Kabul. What an honor.
As part of my work with Noori Center for Women, I invited Andeisha to tour the Center a week before it opened last November. She came with her eight-year-old son, and twelve-year-old Huma, a lovely young woman my husband and I began sponsoring after Jim Luce brought to my attention ACFECO.
Andeisha is very warm, soft-spoken, and kind, and during our tour, she encouraged the young team at Noori Center to carry on their important work. She came after picking up her son and Huma from school, and like any young Mom, scheduled our afternoon so she could be that Mom above all else.
Given all she has accomplished – and been through – Andeisha’s humility was refreshing, and allowed her native intelligence and authenticity to shine through. An award-winning social entrepreneur who has traveled around the world and has been photographed with world leaders including Hilary Clinton and President Obama, Andeisha’s success comes through her natural talents that bridge her love as a mother and love of children with her love of her country, of the “true Afghanistan” that comprises the vast majority of good people there.
Keep in mind – Andeisha has never not lived in an Afghanistan not at war until now, and even now there is a steep climb toward “reconstruction.” Andeisha spent her childhood living in refugee camps outside of Afghanistan, in Iran, where she and her family experienced extremely harsh living conditions, and Andeisha was unable to attend school.
Her family was able to eventually send her to Pakistan to study, where Andeisha lived six years in a refugee camp hostel. After the fall of the Taliban, in 2002, Andeisha moved to Islamabad to continue her education and began working as a young administrator and spokesperson of an Afghan school. She also began working with a non-profit that founded the Child Sponsorship Program in conjunction with the U.S. based charity, CharityHelp International (CHI) and was named program coordinator.
From there, Andeisha has grown AFCECO around the principles of leadership, tolerance, and education across all realms, including literacy, fine arts, musical and theatre arts, health, and play! The fortunate children who have sadly lost their parents, like Huma often come to the centers with their siblings and grow together into young adults of substance and thoughtfulness. Trips to other countries, including Italy and the U.S., broaden the horizons of these children – while inspiring children they meet on these remarkable adventures.
Andeisha understands that the future of Afghanistan and the world whose eyes are on Afghanistan is ultimately in the hands of children. By raising these children to appreciate others, to study, to be tolerant, generous and to serve, the AFECEO will continue to build “capacity” through compassion and continual communications amongst many more children than those who have received Andeisha’s unique and lasting grace.
In receiving a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Entrepreneurial Achievement Award in 2008, Andeisha said: "I’m not afraid. In fact, I’m hopeful. I have to be optimistic that we can create a happy future for the children. We have to look forward, we have no other choice. I want my four-year old son — and every other Afghan child — to feel they need not be afraid to imagine an Afghanistan with possibility and opportunity — that’s my dream for them and all of us as well."
Today, AFCECO runs 11 orphanages in Afghanistan and Pakistan with over 700 children of diverse ethnicities.
Afghan Child Education and Care Organization (AFCECO)
Ian Pound’s AFCECO Real-Life Blog
Introduction to Andeisha Farid by Jim Luce in The Huffington Post
Cynthia Artin is president of Artin Arts and volunteers as Chief of Staff to The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation. She is an entrepreneur and humanitarian who has lived and worked in Kabul, Afghanistan where she was on assignment for the Noori Foundation, helping to establish a center for war widows and their children. Cynthia will be publishing weekly profiles of interesting people doing good things in what she calls “one of the most beautiful places on Earth” for The Stewardship Report.
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