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Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse: The True Story of a Woman Who Risked Everything to Bring Hope to Afghanistanby Suraya Sadeed
Synopses & Reviews
Includes a Reading Group Guide and Author Q&A From her first humanitarian visit to Afghanistan in 1994, Suraya Sadeed has been personally delivering relief and hope to Afghan orphans and refugees, to women and girls in inhuman situations deemed too dangerous for other aid workers or for journalists. Her memoir of these missions, Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse, is as unconventional as the woman who has lived it. This is no humanitarian missive; it is an adventure story with heart. To help the Afghan people, Suraya has flown in a helicopter piloted by a man who was stoned beyond reason. She has traveled through mountain passes on horseback alongside mules, teenage militiamen, and Afghan leaders. She has stared defiantly into the eyes of members of the Taliban and of the Mujahideen who were determined to slow or stop her. She has hidden and carried $100,000 in aid, strapped to her stomach, into ruined villages. She has built clinics. She has created secret schools for Afghan girls. She has dedicated the second half of her life to the education and welfare of Afghan women and children, founding the organization Help the Afghan Children (HTAC) to fund her efforts. Suraya was born the daughter of the governor of Kabul amid grand walls, beautiful gardens, and peace. In the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, she fled to the United States with her husband, their young daughter, their I-94 papers, and little else. In America, she became the workaholic owner of a prosperous real estate company, enjoying all the worldly comforts anyone could want, but when a personal tragedy struck in the early 1990s, Suraya seriously questioned how she was living and soon sharply changed the direction of her life. Now, in Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse, she shares her story of passion, courage, and love, painting a complex portrait of Afghanistan, its people, and its foreign visitors that defies every stereotype and invites us all to contribute to the lives of others and to hope.
"In a well plotted, fluid narrative co-written with Damien Lewis, the founder of the charity Help the Afghan Children (HTAC) chronicles her long, arduous journey from impecunious Afghan refugee to the U.S. in 1982 to organizer of numerous clinics and girls' schools in her war-torn country. As the daughter of Kabul's governor, she feared for her life under the Soviet invasion and escaped with her husband and daughter; in America she got her real estate license and enjoyed a successful and wealthy life in Virginia — cut short with her husband's sudden massive heart attack and death in 1993. Yet with her loss came the dawning realization of the terrible hardship endured by her fellow Afghans after the withdrawal of the Soviets, the infighting of the mujahideen, and the rise of the Taliban. With money raised within the Afghan community in the U.S. for her new charity, she resolved to head into Afghanistan and administer the cash herself to the refugee camps. Her naÃ¯vetÃ© and tenacity allowed her to bypass the oily administrators of the camps and reach the neediest women and children, start schools and clinics, despite the enormous personal peril she courted as a woman reviled by the Taliban. Sadeed inserts numerous moving personal stories, such as meeting by chance a woman she went to school with, transformed and aged horribly. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Suraya Sadeed was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan and immigrated to the United States after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. She founded Help the Afghan Children in 1993 as a response to the humanitarian crisis she witnessed on a trip to her home country during the height of the Afghan Civil War. Since then, Suraya's work has been recognized and honored at the highest levels of government in both Afghanistan and the United States. She has appeared on such programs as the Oprah Winfrey Show and NBC's Weekend Today Show, and her story has been written about in Readers Digest and the Los Angeles Times Magazine as well as a film documentary Inshallah, Diary of an Afghan Woman, produced for the Oxygen Channel. In March of 2006, Suraya's work was recognized by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the White House for her work in Afghanistan.
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