Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Opportunity To Help Someone

If you're looking for a blog entry about broadband, you can skip this one.

Yesterday, I read an article in the NY Times by Dexter Filkins, titled Afghan Girls, Scarred by Acid, Defy Terror, Embracing School . As a woman who went to Vassar in the days when it was still a women's college, I was particularly moved by the story of these girls, who, despite brutal intimidation, continue to pursue their education. I decided to write to the reporter and ask how I could help.

I have gotten a response from Mr. Filkins and am about to send a check to him, made out to the “Mirwais School Fund,” as explained in his email to me (below). I thought that some of my friends, relatives and colleagues might also be interested in contributing, which is the reason for letting you know about this. Here is the email from Dexter:

"Hi, thank you very much for writing about the girls at Mirwais School. They are a very inspiring bunch.

Thanks for offering to help. I’m happy to say that I have been deluged by letters from readers.
They don't really have banks to speak of here, and I'm not sure I would trust giving any money to the government. My address is below. I am in Kandahar, Afghanistan at the moment, so there is no bank account for the girls or the school. (I can do that when I get back to the U.S. later this month.)

If you feel like you can trust me, then make a check out to me­Dexter Filkins. Or, write it to the “Mirwais School Fund,” which I will set up when I get back to the U.S. later this month.
Until then I won’t cash any checks. Please specify what you would like done with the money­for the school, or for Shamsia, the burned girl. I can let you know how the money is spent and send you photos and updates. I am trying to find a plastic surgeon for Shamsia; I have already been contacted by a foundation in Switzerland that may be able to perform the surgery.

I don't really recommend sending stuff­school supplies, for instance. It is very difficult to move in and out of the area, as it is under siege by the Taliban. And the mail and roads and such like here are so bad---I just don't know how it could be pulled off with any degree of certainty.

If I cannot find anything worth while to spend your money on, I will send it back to you.

The girls need every cent, and I am sure they would be thrilled to know that someone from the outside world cares about them. It isn't often that any one of us can change a life, so I will take great care.

My address:

The New York Times
Attention: Dexter Fillkins
Foreign Desk
620 8th Ave.
New York, NY 10018

Thanks very much again.


I feel comfortable with the arrangement Dexter has suggested. You can learn more about him at and his acclaimed book at

If any of you are moved to send additional contributions to this fund and let me know you have done so, I will try to send additional contributions--not to match yours (I don't think I could manage that) but at least to add more to the fund.

Thanks for reading this and for your kind thoughts for the girls of the Mirwais School.

Vassar 1961 (yes-- I really am that old--but don't feel like it one bit.)