February 12, 2010

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The documentary film "Thread" will be shown at the Campus Theatre in Lewisburg on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 3 p.m.

The documentary about Afghan women entrepreneurs will be followed by a discussion led by Bucknell senior Palwasha Siddiqi. A native of Kabul, Afghanistan, Siddiqi will discuss a project designed to help children get an education in her home town.

The educational program is sponsored by several groups at Bucknell University — the Bucknell Office of Civic Engagement, the Women's Resource Center, and International Student Services — along with the Center for Non-Violent Living, and C.A.R.E. (Community Alliance for Respect and Equality).

Afghan women entrepreneurs
Filmed in 2005, the film includes Siddiqi's experience with Bpeace (Business Council for Peace), a nonprofit international network of business professionals who volunteer to help women entrepreneurs in countries emerging from war to expand their businesses, create employment, and build a more peaceful future for their communities.

Following the film, she will offer a short presentation about the lives of regular Afghan people.

"Given the military surge that has been ordered in Afghanistan by the U.S. government, and knowing that many local troops may serve there, I think it is important for all of us as American citizens to learn more about our civilian counterparts in that country," said Janice Buter, director of Civic Engagement and Service-Learning at Bucknell, one of the organizers of the event.

Siddiqi traveled to Kabul over the winter break and found that traveling in the capital city was more dangerous than ever. She mentioned several bombings in areas where her younger siblings walk on their way to school. 

One aim of her trip back to Afghanistan was to meet with children she is helping by sponsoring their education. Many children in Kabul don't go to school because their families need them to work on the streets or beg for money so that they can buy food, clothing and fuel. Many women are widowed and most Afghan single mothers are illiterate and cannot work outside the home. School-age children run errands and do odd jobs for the family to scrape together an existence.

Collection for Kochah
While the film screening and presentation are free, a collection will be taken to help Kochah provide education to additional children. "Donations to Kochah will assist children of single mothers in Afghanistan with education as well as food and clothing," Siddiqi said.

Kochah is a nonprofit organization located in Kabul dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance and educational opportunities for deprived children regardless of their ethnicity, group, language, religion or gender. Founded by singer-songwriter, human rights activist and Goodwill Ambassador Farhad Darya in 2007, this charitable group assists female-headed households.

Siddiqi has taken on the role of patron by sponsoring 12 children this year through Kochah, paying their families what the kids would have earned -  as much as $50 a month -  so that they can still eat while the kids go to school.

A senior majoring in management, Siddiqi interned this summer at Prudential in Newark, N.J., where she held a similar fundraiser with a documentary showing and presentation to the advertising agency there.

The youngest member in the Bpeace group, she was encouraged by her U.S. host mother to apply to Bucknell. Following graduation in May, she hopes to continue her education with a master's degree before returning to Afghanistan to open an orphanage.

Siddiqi will speak on WKOK-AM on Feb. 23 at 9:15 a.m. about her experiences and the work she is supporting in Afghanistan.

Contact: Division of Communications


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