In the fight against terrorism, wars are being waged far beyond the battlefield as the effort to battle terrorism is also about preserving cultures and protecting traditions by any means necessary.
This week on Full Frame, we talk with those who are committed to telling the stories of people who are saving the world’s most vulnerable cultures in conflict zones throughout the Middle East.
A school changing women’s lives in Afghanistan
At only 23-years-old, freelance journalist Jeffrey Stern arrived in Afghanistan to cover the conflict in the region for several U.S. publications. During his time on the ground there, he also became involved in the country’s education system. He co-authored a business proposal to help Afghan women start or expand their businesses, which became the first Goldman Sachs Ten-Thousand Women initiative. The program eventually provided training to over 300 Afghan women.
But that was just the beginning for Stern as he discovered the Marefat High School, a progressive, community-run, pro-women’s rights institution that has grown into one of the country’s most successful schools. It offers a unique co-educational system, teaching both boys and girls. It’s at that school where Stern’s book, The Last Thousand: One School’s Promise in a Nation of War, is set.
Mike Walter sat down with Jeffrey Stern in our Washington, DC studio where he spoke about the inspiration he found in an unlikely corner of Kabul. Nahid Paiman, a former student at Marefat also joined the conversation, sharing how her experience as a female student at Marefat changed her life forever.
Joshua Hammer: Saving the world’s precious manuscripts
When foreign correspondent and author Joshua Hammer first met Timbuktu librarian Abdel Kader Haidara, the reluctant librarian was on a ten-year mission traveling the deserts of Mali to salvage and preserve thousands of valuable Islamic and secular manuscripts.
But in 2012, these precious cultural treasures were under serious threat as terrorists backed by al-Qaeda seized control of Timbuktu. Fearing these rare manuscripts would be destroyed, Haidara and a group of local librarians risked life and limb to smuggle 350,000 volumes out of Timbuktu to safe houses hundreds of miles away.
Joshua Hammer eventually completed a lengthy expose for The Wall Street Journal and then wrote about Haidara’s heroic rescue efforts in his book, The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts.
Mike Walter sat down with Hammer to discuss his extraordinary tales from Timbuktu.
Connect with Joshua Hammer on Facebook
An embassy for a nation with no state
All across the Middle East – from Iraq to Syria and from Turkey to Iran – there’s an ethnic group who has no recognized nation of its own. More than 20 million Kurdish people have no country, which means no embassy anywhere in the world.
But in Los Angeles, one Kurdish-Iraqi immigrant is creating his own unofficial embassy. A place where the Kurdish culture is being kept alive and its people, at long last, have a place to call home.
Full Frame contributor Sandra Hughes has the story.
Connect with Niroj Kurdish Cuisine on Facebook