The Bamyan Foundation is pleased to announce the setting up of a committee comprising resourceful community members to explore sister city partnership between Bamyan city in Afghanistan and cities in the United States. We believe that connecting Bamyan with American cities will open gateways for mutual understanding, cultural exchange, cooperation and growth in the public and private sectors.
Azra Jafari is a prominent women right activist and Afghan diaspora community leader living in Washington DC area. Ms. Jafari was appointed as the first female mayor in Afghanistan and served in that capacity from 2008 until 2014. Her appointment as mayor of Nili, the capital of Daykundi province Afghanistan became controversial after conservative religious leader objected to women appointment in such capacity. However, soon after her appointment Ms. Jafari became a national figure who often appeared in local and international media advocating for the role of women in the government. Ms. Jafari was a member of emergency Loya Jirga (Grant council) of Afghanistan that for the first time drafted and approved Afghanistan’s democratic constitution. During the Taliban regime, Ms. Jafari lived in exile and she was the chief editor of the Afghan social and cultural magazine Farhang and later established an elementary school for the Afghan refugees. She has written two books in Farsi, ‘the Making of the New Constitution of Afghanistan’ and ‘I am a Working Woman’. Her writings have been featured in Aljazeera, BBC, and other prominent media organization.
Zareen Taj is a women’s rights and community activist and author. She was awarded a scholarship and earned her dual Bachelor’s Degree in women studies and political science after arriving in the United States in 2000. She earned her Master’s Degree in women studies with international concentration. She has worked continuously to promote women’s rights and immigrant’s rights and has attended numerous conferences, given speeches and mentored refugees in the U.S. She has done academic research in the areas of Afghan women empowerment, refugee women’s reproductive health, domestic violence, and integration. She has played a major role for establishment of connection between refugees and services providers. Zareen returned to Afghanistan for a two-month video documentary journey that she organized and returned with about 40 hours of videotapes, 700 photographs and 20 hours of cassette recordings. She was the first afghan woman who visited five massacre sites and interviewed the victim families and survivors of Taliban massacres. Her video documentary can be found at: https://vimeo.com/2498820. Her book can be found at: Women after Taliban (http://www.blurb.com/books/2404528-journey-to-empowerment). Zareen is married and have two daughters. She continues to mentor and advise refugee families in Baltimore area where she lives.
Mohammad Sakhi Hasani:
Mohammad Sakhi Hassany is pursuing a master’s degree in International Development and Conflict as well as a certificate in War and Peace Studies at Ohio University through Fulbright scholarship. Sakhi has over 10 years of working experience with the United Nations and different national and international organizations in Afghanistan. His work experiences include from helping the grassroots civil society organizations with their strategic and business plans to community based natural resources management and conflict through United Nations and closely working with the government line ministries. Sakhi is interested in understanding the socio-politics behind the conflicts in Afghanistan and would like to help the Afghan government and communities come up with coexisting and holistic solutions, where everyone can live in peace and harmony. He has received his BA in Political Science and Public Administration from the American University of Afghanistan. He is a distinguished alumnus of the NATO International School of Azerbaijan in Baku. Sakhi is also a 05-06 Youth Exchange and Study (YES) alumnus, a US Department of State high school and cultural exchange program, where he lived with an American host family and attended one year of high school in Fort Wayne Indiana. He is interested in photography and playing different sports, especially, soccer and volleyball.
Reza Yawari works as Senior Program Officer with FHI360, an International development organization, providing program oversight to multiple projects funded by Department of State and USAID in Afghanistan, Pakistan and countries in Central Asia in support of public diplomacy initiatives, higher education, and women economic empowerment. Prior to this, Reza used to work as advocacy lead at ECDC, one of the nine national refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S. with 17 offices across the country. At ECDC, Reza represented refugees and immigrants in major conferences, working groups and meetings including at the congressional hearings, and the White House Taskforce on Refugee and Immigration. From 2009 – 2014, Reza worked as Country Strategic Advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, provided critical analysis and strategic support on mission’s key priority issues such as bilateral security agreement, anti-corruption efforts, good governance, elections and countering narrative promoted by extremist groups. Reza was supporting congressional delegation visits and facilitating discussion for mission senior leadership with politician, and thought leaders, supporters and critics, to hear their concerns and ideas. Before that, Reza worked for two years with the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea as Information Officer/Outreach Coordinator based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with frequent travel to Asmara, Eritrea. From 2003 through late 2006, Reza worked with Futures Group International, Management Sciences for Health and Population Service International Social Marketing project that promoted and delivered health products across Afghanistan. From 2011 through 2014, Reza served as board of director for Afghan Social Marketing Project and executive director for Silk Road Leadership based in the US.
Born in Afghanistan and raised in Pakistan, Karimy worked at the US Embassy in Islamabad and arrived in the Washington DC area after a stint in Malaysia. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech, and works at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The Bamyan Foundation is the culmination of Karimy's long-held goal to establish a US based nonprofit organization with focus on education, gender equity and youth programs among the at-risk groups in Afghanistan.