Direct link to press release: http://goo.gl/oVPw3l
America and Afghanistan as Partners for Peace
April 7, 2014
[PRESS RELEASE] After Historic Election, Afghanistan Ambassador, Educator Speak at New College
Just two days after Afghanistan’s historic presidential election, the country’s ambassador to the United States, Hon. Eklil Hakimi, and Khris Nedam, director of U.S.-based charity Kids4AfghanKids, will travel to Sarasota to share their vision of “America and Afghanistan as Partners for Peace,” in a program sponsored by the Sarasota World Affairs Council.
The program will be at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 7, at the Sudakoff Center on the Pei campus of New College, 5845 General Dougher Place. The lecture is free for SWAC members and all teachers and students. Admission is $25 for non-members. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended; call 487-4603 or email [email protected].
A reception with the speakers for SWAC members will follow from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at College Hall on the New College bayfront. Information about membership can be found at www.sarasotawac.org.
Eklil Hakimi was appointed ambassador to the United States in 2011, after positions as the country’s ambassador to China and Japan. He has held various policy-making positions in the Afghan government. He also has studied in the United States and worked in the electronics industry. Ambassador Hakimi has a master’s degree in engineering and speaks six languages, including fluent English.
Khris Nedam is an educator who has lived, worked, and traveled throughout Afghanistan for the past 30 years. She is founder and director of Kids4AfghanKids, a program in which Michigan school children reached out to children in an Afghan school. The American school community raised enough money to build a co-educational school in Afghanistan that now includes elementary, junior high and high schools, as well as a medical clinic and an orphanage.
The Sarasota World Affairs Council, or SWAC, is a member of the largest non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization in the United States dedicated to educating and engaging U.S. residents on global issues. It joins nearly 100 councils across 40 states that reach more than half a million people yearly. SWAC is hosted by the New College Foundation and is a 501(c)3 organization.
For more information on our speakers:
Eklil Ahmad Hakimi
Embassy of Afghanistan
The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has appointed Ambassador Ahmad Eklil Hakimi to play a major role in facilitating and assisting with the massive reconstruction efforts that lie ahead. Furthermore, his appointment is an attempt to further strengthen bilateral ties and the strategic partnership between Afghanistan and the United States of America.
Ambassador Hakimi is a career diplomat with well-established credentials in numerous fields. He obtained a Master’s degree from the Kabul Polytechnic Institute in 1991. The Ambassador previously worked as an adviser in the fields of policy formulation, government reform, and institutional capacity-building at the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Vice President, during 2002 and 2005. Additionally, he has expert knowledge in engineering and strategic planning.
In 2005, Ambassador Hakimi was appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Afghanistan to the People’s Republic of China, while serving as non-resident Ambassador to Mongolia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. He also served as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Japan, and was appointed as Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs in 2010. In these positions, Ambassador Hakimi participated in numerous diplomatic initiatives, and had significant achievements. He played an influential role in strengthening ties between donor countries and various ministries of Afghanistan, as well as in regional cooperation and integration through economic projects, diplomatic outreach and coordination between regional and international actors.
Ambassador Hakimi is fluent in Dari and English, and is well-versed in Pashto, Urdu, and French. He was educated at the Istiqlal French High School, and later enrolled at the Kabul Polytechnic Institute. He continued to further his education in the United States, and subsequently gained employment in various engineering projects dealing with management, marketing, and strategic planning.
In addition to his assignment as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Afghanistan to the United States, Ambassador Hakimi will serve as Afghanistan’s non-resident envoy to Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.
Ambassador Eklil Ahmad Hakimi is married and has three daughters.
2004 Award Winners
Since her graduation from Marygrove College six years ago, Khris Nedam, third grade teacher, has done much more than just teach school-she has helped build one.
Armed with a teaching degree and a mastery of French, she taught school in France, Turkey, Afghanistan, and the U. S. But that was just the beginning. In 1998 while she was teaching at Meads Mill Middle School, a contact from Afghanistan shared with her class the condition of the economy, education and family life in Afghanistan. Moved by the account, Nedam and her sixth grade students founded Kids4AfghanKids, a non-profit organization whose goal is to re-establish educational facilities for boys and girls in Afghanistan.
In three years, they had raised enough money to build a six-room schoolhouse in Afghanistan. Approximately 450 students filled the school when it was built. By 2004 over 1,200 students regularly crowd into the tiny building in shifts.
“That rural village now has so much hope for the future of their children,” says Nedam. What started as a Northville Public School project became an enterprise with partner schools all across America, as well as schools in Belgium and France. In addition to the school, a medical clinic, bakery/kitchen, guest house, orphanage, and the only deep-water well in the valley have been built. More than 250 babies have been born at the clinic.
“Her compassion for the need, purpose and value of this effort is clear, honest and forthright,” says Northville Superintendent Leonard Rezmierski. “Her commitment to help people, albeit thousands of miles away, is admirable and worthy of recognition.”
Several organizations have assisted the building process such as UNICEF and church organizations. The Northville Rotary and Northville Schools worked together to raise $20,000 in four months. Under the guidance of Nedam, Kids4AfghanKids has received national acclaim and media coverage, including Newsweek and ABC’s “20/20 Downtown.”
More importantly, in 2002 the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI, Arlington, Virginia) put Kids4AfghanKids on the top of their list as one of the most reliable humanitarian organizations. In 2002 Nedam was honored with the Governor’s Service Award, and in 2003 she received the Michigan Association of School Board’s “Best of the Best” award.
Watching her students here make friends with children half a world away is important to Nedam. And watching them make a dreams come true is even better.
“My students have learned an important lesson through a real-life connection,” she says. “They’ve learned that with persistence and hard work, they can make their dreams come true and make a difference in the world.”
According to Steven Anderson, principal at Amerman Elementary School, Nedam finds time for everyone and listens with her heart. “Kids4AfghanKids, teaching and being a single parent fill Nedam’s days with ‘to-do’ lists. Despite this, she still manages to find time to draw students and adults out of their daily struggles and focus them on larger issues,” he said.
Nedam strives to help her students find their own special gifts and to think outside the box. “People are more important than things,” says Nedam. “Bills, cleaning, and ‘stuff’ won’t go away. Enjoy the people in your life, laugh, and be a good friend.
“Kids today need to understand that differences are okay,” she said. “We should support each other in our differences and be willing to reach out and help each other.”