A few months ago I wrote about the Pax Populi effort to bring a young Afghan woman named Hila to study at Marblehead High School, in Massachusetts. Everything seemed poised for success, and there is no doubt whatsoever that we should have succeeded. However, due to the unfortunate decision of one embassy staffer, our applicant was not given the required visa. We are very aware of the criteria used in evaluating the merits of a visa application, and this case should have been a complete slam-dunk. We have no doubt that the visa decision was in error and we sought to reverse it by reaching out to the offices of two senators and one congressman. All three officials sent letters to the embassy to communicate their support, and likewise letters of support were transmitted on behalf of the host family, the principal of the Marblehead High School, and the executive director of Applied Ethics. Sadly, a second time the visa was also not conferred.
Eventually, it was agreed that we needed to accept that Hila was not going to study in Marblehead High School in the current academic year, and maybe ever. This was a saddening and frustrating outcome, but one that we were forced to accept. Our goal is to help the Afghans to bring peace to their own country and we do this above all by trying to empower the Afghans through education. However, although not every struggle will succeed, we must not lose faith in the truth of our work. Our great struggle is to see peace prevail in Afghanistan and elsewhere. We are disappointed by this setback, but our work goes on. Hila has continued to participate in the Pax Populi English Tutoring program, which remains one of our most important initiatives. She is a brilliant young woman and we have no doubt she will go on to accomplish great things. Her goal to advance her education has not been altered and neither has our goal of working toward peace in Afghanistan. We have no doubt as to the value of our work, and so, despite the disappointment, our commitment to our cause is undiminished. The struggle continues.