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          Starting the I Was Here campaign has been a dream come true…

When I first came up with the idea, I had wanted it to be structured like a travel blog. As the idea unfolded itself to me I realized that it deserved sturdier legs – and so I set a pretty lofty goal to make it a social media movement. Not satisfied with that after some deep soul searching – I realized that it was meant to be just one campaign in a much bigger movement. Like Goldie Locks on a path of enlightenment – it was as if my soul said “none of these chairs are just right, none of these bowls of porridge are just right, and none of these beds are big enough”. So I set out to build something bigger, but I started out with just a small first step.

                My first step was to begin my journey in the first country on the list – Afghanistan. What I chose to do was to support the Afghan Institute of Learning in the quest to provide educational scholarships for young women. If I have learned anything about humanity – and I hope you learn the same – it’s that we all fundamentally want the same things. Stability, happiness, opportunities to use our gifts and to find purpose for ourselves – and these are the same things that humans universally want for those they care for. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in the news headlines and paint Afghani people and those of the Islamic faith with the same paintbrush and state that the patriarchal norms mean that women’s education is off the table. This is a dialogue perpetuated by the media savvy Taliban – to call them religious fanatics is misallocating the prohibition of women and girls from seeking education as a religious mandate. Throughout history, great Mathematicians, Astronomers, and Architects in Islamic nations were women. In reading about the past – only then can we truly understand the forces on the modern international stage.

                In my increased understanding, I committed to supporting the work of Dr. Yacoobi in her quest to get more young women in school and through to graduation. The girls are bright, curious, and deeply devoted – and the small gifts we can each contribute to ensure their education is continued are truly priceless. Afghanistan is still recovering from decades of war and strife – only through education and reinvigorating the minds of the Afghan people can we expect change and for them to flourish. It is my hope that today as I write this, a young mind is opening to the notion of rebuilding Afghanistan to its former glory and welcoming the world to international investment. Until I write again, please keep supporting the dreams of those less fortunate. Small gifts lead to big developments! 

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Author Mischaela Elkins

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