Susan Retik is my hero. Susan Retik’s husband was on Flight 11 on September 11, 2001 – yes, the plane that hit one of the World Trade Towers. Instead of retreating into a world of hate-filled conspiracy, Retik started a charity in honor of her husband, a charity to help Afghan widows.
Beyond the 11th
Wait a minute! Instead of despising the country that had hatched the plot that killed her husband, Retik and another woman, Patti Quigley, whose husband had also died in the 9/11 attack, founded an organization, Beyond the 11th. This organization has now helped more than 1.000 Afghan widows to start tiny businesses. It is an effort to help some of the world’s neediest people fight back at the distrust and hatred that sustain the Taliban.
Susan Retik is an amazing woman, who has already won the recognition of the White House. Here’s her take on the issue of women and violence: “More jobs means less violence. It would be naive to think that we can change the country, but change has to start somewhere. If we can provide a skill for a woman so that she can provide for her family going forward, then that’s one person or five people who will have a roof over their head, food in their bellies and a chance for education.”
Today I’d like everyone to join me in supporting Susan’s organization, Beyond the 11th, to celebrate her bravery.
Victory For Hunamitariasm
Beyond the 11th began by buying small chicken flocks for widows so that they could sell eggs. Another project was to build a women’s center in the city of Bamian, where the women weave carpets. The center, overseen by an aid group call Arzu, also offers literacy classes and operates a bakery as a business.
As it happens, I have spent the last two days dealing with another tragedy: 54 families lost their homes as a result of a gas explosion less than 10 miles from the school where I teach. Today I learned what humanitarian concern is really about, as our community came together: families offering homes to those who are homeless; administrators offering books, tuition, and support to students who have lost everything; students who contributed $1,600 (in a school of 500) to help those who suffered in the fire.
Susan Retik offers a vision that can chip away at any pre-conceived model and help us all come together. Despite her incredible loss, Retik wanted something positive to come out of 9/11.
So inspirational and impactful have her efforts been, she was congratulated by President Obama himself this August, when he awarded her a Citizen’s Medal. Let’s all learn from her example!
Creative Commons - _Pauls_