Sahar Gul is a 13 year old girl who was married at 11, and whose in-laws tortured her in horrific ways. Sahar has physical and emotional scars from the abuse she suffered, but has the chance of a future thanks to the work of our organization, Women for Afghan Women. Our staff attorneys fought her legal case against her in-laws and they were convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison. The in-laws appealed this decision but the judge rejected their appeal.
A 93 year old man in Texas, Mr. Robert D. Brown, read about Sahar Gul in the New York Times. Sahar lost her parents at a young age, as did Mr. Brown. He felt a strong connection to Sahar, and reached out to the New York Times to ask how he could help her. The Times referred Mr. Brown to us since she was in our care.
In recent weeks Mr. Brown has made three separate donations for Sahar Gul’s health and dental care expenses. “I would like Sahar to be taken to the dentist immediately. I am a firm believer in regular dental care,” he told me on a recent phone call. As a result, Sahar was taken for the first dental check-up of her life, and we learned that she has no cavities.
When he heard that I was traveling to Kabul, Mr. Brown said he’d like to send a gift for Sahar, and asked what she might like. I told him that some warm clothes might be a good idea since winter is fast approaching.
This morning, I went to the Kabul Halfway House where Sahar is staying, and had the great pleasure of giving Sahar the many gifts that Mr. Brown sent her. First we had to explain that an elderly gentleman in America had read about Sahar in the newspaper, and had decided to help her. We told Sahar that Mr. Brown has sent money for her, and also some gifts: a globe; a winter coat, gloves, sweater and scarf; a purse filled with make-up and other goodies; and most exciting of all, an Ipod loaded up with music that American teens listen to, complete with Ipod dock and earphones.
Sahar is usually a shy girl, but beamed with each additional gift! The coat and sweater fit her perfectly, and she looked closely at Mr. Brown’s photograph which he had loaded onto the ipod. When I gave her the globe, it was clear that Sahar had no idea that we live on a spherical planet spinning in space. We pointed out Afghanistan, New York and Texas, but she will need some geography lessons before the concept sinks in. The literacy teacher at the Halfway House will use
the globe in some basic geography lessons for all the women staying there.
Thanks to Mr. Brown’s donations, we will be able to send Sahar for medical care in India. She has many medical issues as a result of the torture and starvation she endured, and needs the attention of specialist care which is not available in Afghanistan.
That a 93 year old American man could read about a 13 year old girl in Afghanistan and be so moved by her story is beautiful. That he took the next step to find out how to reach her, what her needs are, and how he can help her is inspirational. But to come to Kabul bearing gifts that he had personally picked out for her in a Texas shopping mall – a coat, an ipod, a globe – and to watch her open the gifts with her delicate hands, felt something like a miracle. I am utterly
humbled by the power of human connection.
(womenforafghanwomen.org / 06.10.2012)