P.S.-Pooh Says...

"What day is it? - 'It's today' - squeaked Piglet. 'My favourite day' - said Pooh."- A.A. Milne

11 September 2016

A Sky of Promise-Beyond the 11th

"Peace is our gift to each other. " Elie Wiesel

I think what I will always remember most viscerally about that morning is the sky. It was a September sky, that rare blue, clean and clear, that reflects the perfection of a late summer/early fall New England day. I wonder now how often I looked at the sky that day. How could a sky that glorious have held such horror?

On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was watering the late summer flowers willing them to keep summer going a few more weeks. I drove to my office with only a small news blip of a plane having flown into a building in New York. By 2:00 as I drove back home there were no planes allowed to be flying in the sky. When the roar of a plane's engine streaked through the complete silence of that afternoon I pulled the car over with my heart pounding as I realized the aircraft I heard were fighter jets from one of the Massachusetts bases. Once again I looked to the sky.

Living in Boston we all had six degrees of connections to the thousands of tragic stories of that day. Some of those stories lived their lives less than a mile away. Susan Retik and Patti Quigley lost their husbands, David Retik and Patrick Quigley, on flights that left from Boston that day. Susan was pregnant with her third child and Patti was eight months pregnant with her second child. They became single Mothers, Widows, living within a drama that changed everything for all of us but for their lives most of all.

Patti and Susan watched as the country prepared to strike back somehow in some way and saw that the women of the country that housed and trained their husband's murderers had been left alone too. The stories of the women of Afghanistan moved these two American women to action, to turn an unspeakable, deeply personal, tragedy into a promise of hope. Susan and Patti soon learned about the vast number of widows in Afghanistan who had no assistance, financial or emotional for themselves or their children. They felt a connection to these women whose lives were shattered by war and had no where to turn to rebuild their lives, none of the support that helped Patti and Susan get through. From that connection came Beyond the 11th "...to help provide financial and emotional support to these widows and their children and to give them hope for a better future."

Despite the changes for many women in Afghanistan since the Taliban was "removed" women without means, property, men to provide for them, are entirely dependent and live within poverty and desperation. Beyond the 11th works to aid non governmental organizations that make a difference in these women's lives by providing training, emotional guidance, child care, clothing and teaching them skills to help support themselves and their children and toward a life of self sufficiency.

Patti and Susan and Beyond the 11th have  been featured in a documentary by Principle Pictures, Beyond Belief . This weekend a 3 day cycling event  was held from Ground Zero to Boston  to raise awareness and funds to help the women of Afghanistan through Beyond the Bike. When they asked women of Afghanistan whether they would ride bikes if they were given to them..." they all began to giggle. They explained that in their culture women do not ride bikes and people would laugh to see a woman on a bike. They could not believe that we ride bicycles and when we explained to them how far we ride to raise money for their programs, they were astonished. I hope that one day the widows we met will have the experience of riding on a bicycle with the wind blowing in their hair."

“There’s a way in which each of us makes small choices every day. And after a period of time those choices develop into a pattern. Each moral and ethical choice forms our identity. It seems to me that the terrorists who flew planes into the buildings on September 11th, they started making choices a long time ago — choices took them so far off center that flying a plane into a building seemed like the right thing to do. It’s like any one of us. We choose our way into being ourselves. And I think that’s what Patti and Susan do in little choices and in big choices. When given a choice between violence and love — they chose love. When given a choice between retribution and restoration of harmony — they chose restoring harmony. When given a choice between death and life — they’ve chosen life. That’s just who they are. It’s who they’ve come to be. It’s who they’ve chosen to be. And because of that, their children are learning to choose life as well.”Jim Fleming, S.J., Patti Quigley’s brother, in Beyond Belief

Two women whose lives, and whose children's lives ,would never be the same turned their pain, their grief, their anger to action. They were determined that from that day could come hope and change. For many of the women left behind by war in Afghanistan they can now reach for the sky, a sky that that holds promise of a better life, a better world and that may be the lesson of that September day.
To Donate or for more information Visit Beyond the 11th

Beyond the 11th's Grantees include:

Arzu meaning Hope in Dari helps provide income for women by marketing and selling their handmade rugs and paying the women 50% more than the market rate for their labor. The women also receive a bonus for each rug in exchange for promising to attend literacy classes and enrolling their children in school.

Bpeace which helps women in regions of war and recovery to market their skills and build businesses such as a group manufacturing soccer balls and other leather goods.

CARE a Beyond the 11th grant helped to fund a CARE Livestock Development Program helping women earn income through raising and rearing cows and lambs.

Razia's Ray of Hope "Razia’s Ray of Hope, founded by humanitarian Razia Jan, provides exemplary, free education to more than 500 girls in grades K-12 at the Zabuli Education Center in Deh’Subz, Afghanistan."

Women for Women "Helping Women Survivors of War Rebuild Their Lives"

This post was written several years back and on this 15th year after the 11th of September it is time to share Beyond the 11th's work of hope.
most images from Beyond the 11th