MADISON,NJ-Shamila Kohestani (Drew C’12) is running around trying to figure out the details for the retreat that the Center on Religion Culture and Conflict (CRCC) is hosting on September 23-25 at Drew University. The excitement is growing as the dates get closer because this is the first retreat for the Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund (AGFAF).
AGFAF (also known as the “Fund”) was established in 2008 and it started because of Kohestani, an international student fromAfghanistan. When Kohestani came to theU.S.to attend Blair Academy Boarding high school inBlairstownN.J. her tuition and room and board were covered by Blair. However, Kohestani had no funds to cover any personal expenses like airplane fares, transportation, health insurance, to name but a few. Kohestani’s financial struggles were brought to the attention of Leo Motiuk, the father of Alex Motiuk who attended Blair with Kohestani. Resultantly, Leo Motiuk started this foundation to financially assist Kohestani and Afghan girls like her.
AGFAF’s mission is to aid young Afghan women who seek a college education in theUnited States. On their website it states “The Fund identifies promising young women, matches them with participating educational institutions and American host families and provides financial support to defray expenses not covered by either these institutions or host families. These women often need additional secondary education before starting at a college or university. The Fund also provides assistance at this level.”
In order to visit their families, maintain cultural ties and engage in projects with the purpose to share their education while back home, the Fund also provides round trip transportation to recipients toAfghanistaneach summer. AGFAF’s first retreat is being made possible with support from Drew University’s CRCC.
The retreat aims to introduce all the girls who have been supported by AGFAF to date; some of the girls will meet one another for the first time since they have joined the organization. There are 15-20 Afghan girls who are currently helped by the Fund that are planning on attending the retreat. “It is a great opportunity for these girls to get together, I personally don’t know most of these girls because all of us live in different parts ofAfghanistanand also attend different colleges in theUS” said Khoestani.
Each of these Afghan girls is working back inAfghanistan, and every girl will present their work and results during this retreat. “It is great to be able to communicate with each other regarding our current projects” said Kohestani. At this retreat, they will be able to share their inspirational projects.
“I’m very happy to be at Drew University. I had such a great experience studying here for the past 3 years and I am really excited for my last year at Drew. I am greatly thankful for everything Drew has provided me and also for giving me this opportunity to continue my college education. This retreat is extremely important for the Fund and I really appreciate Drew and CRCC for supporting it” said Kohestani.