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January 21, 2011

A Book Club Valentine

Posted by Dana
As American women, we often take our freedom for granted.  Our right to read and write and speak freely are just there and not something we take time to be thankful for.  But this is not the case in many places in the world.  In today's post, regular contributor Denise Neary shares a story of Afghan women who are risking everything to tell their stories and the organization that is helping them do it.
In February, book clubs will have the chance to show their love of reading in new way.
The way the Afghan Women’s Writing Project describes its purpose is simple yet chilling:

“The Afghan Women’s Writing Project is aimed at allowing Afghan women to have a direct voice in the world, not filtered through male relatives or members of the media. Many of these Afghan women have to make extreme efforts to gain computer access in order to submit their writings, in English, to the project.

Most of our Afghan writers participate in the project partially or entirely in secret from friends and family. We cannot provide details on how some women have been able to submit their stories in order to protect them from those who would not approve of their participation. Due to security concerns, we use the Afghan women writers’ first names only, generally editing out names of family and friends and removing locators. On rare occasions, security has required that the pieces be anonymous. In all cases, we or our liaisons in Afghanistan know these women well and can vouch for the authenticity of their stories.”

Take a look at their website, and read some of the beautiful stories written. 
Want to do more than read?  
AAWP is setting up Skype conversations, as part of a series of Living Room Chat Fundraisers, around Valentine’s Day, to build support for the women writers, and for their newly opened Writer’s Hut.   AAWP team members will talk about the challenges Afghan women face, and how they struggle to make certain their voices are heard.
AAWP Special Events Coordinator Leanne Moore,, can tell you more about how to be part of this project.
Give a Valentine to the world, and to yourself----learn more about this project.
-- Denise Neary, Regular Contributor