Kabul Fast Runners past and present convene
- By Toni Maloney
Once a year, Bpeace hosts a reunion for all of the past and present Fast Runners in Kabul. Country Director, Soraya Omar, held the annual gathering for 21 business owners from the class of 2004, 2007, and the most recent class that started in 2010. For the first time there were two male Fast Runners among them.
The group gathered for a large, traditional Afghan meal and shared stories about their businesses and lives. Soraya said, "with hugs and big smiles, it was clear the Fast Runners were pleased to see each other after a long time and share their progress."
Rahima is teaching literacy to girls. Suraia hired four orphan girls to make sweaters and helped them to go to school. Aziza trained a woman with a handicapped husband to stitch soccer balls. She is now one of the best stitchers and she supports her whole family.
Mohammad Saber, who recently returned from the U.S. BART program, hired a former Talib who is now so socialized, he plays a musical instrument (music was banned during the Taliban era.) Mohammed also told the group about the competition with Bpeace El Salvador Fast Runners--whichever group creates the most jobs wins a trip to Dubai with Bpeace Traveling Mentors. He urged everyone to contribute to this competition and win.
AhmadReza, who also recently returned from BART, explained iBpeace and the benefit this new private social network will bring to each Fast Runner. Everyone liked the idea of meeting Bpeace members online.
Latifa, who will be coming to the U.S. in April of 2012 said, "we know many different programs in Afghanistan, but Bpeace is the best. The difference Bpeace is making in our businesses and the lives of many Afghans is very important for peace building in Afghanistan. Soraya's hard work and perseverance is helping us a lot. She is taking our hands like children and showing us how to walk."
After lunch, Pam Rager (a guest from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 women program) delivered a message from Toni. Some of the Fast Runners had tears in their eyes... and everyone applauded at the end.
At the end of the gathering, one person from each class gave their message to Bpeace:
Nasima from the 2004 class said, "we thank Bpeace for the help provided to the Fast Runners; we learned so much from them. We were able to not only know people in Afghanistan, but also have friends in the U.S. and find markets for our products. We will never forget all the good deeds that Bpeace provided us. We ask Bpeace to never forget us."
Aziza from the 2007 class said, "Bpeace taught us the value of time, how to calculate our profit and losses, how to be more involved with our businesses and help others. I will never forget the amount of time Bpeace spent on my business and where we are now. I will never forget that Soraya encouraged us and taught us that everything is possible despite our disbelief. Thanks Bpeace and Soraya."
After the event, Soraya noted that "the gathering was a success with lots of enthusiasm and happiness on the part of the Fast Runners. Listening to Toni's message caused everyone think about their relationship with each other and Bpeace. They discussed how they are bound to the outer world through this program and the memories that we all have. I'm really proud of the accomplishment and the talents of these folks, and the work Bpeace has done in this country. Peace for Afghanistan, it is worth the effort!!! "