Anne Smedinghoff

We just wanted to express our heartfelt thanks to you for the column you wrote about our daughter Anne and her work in Afghanistan, and particularly for the way you approached it [Anne’s vision of a different world, Ken Trainor, Viewpoints, Sept. 1].

Like so many others, we have been saddened and dismayed by the recent developments in Afghanistan. It has become quite difficult to watch those events unfold. We continue to think about the many young Afghan women that Anne, her colleagues, and so many other Americans worked with and helped in so many ways, and we worry about their future. And as might be expected, we can’t help but wonder whether it means that the work Anne and others did in Afghanistan was in vain.

Yet we are also reminded that almost 65% of the entire Afghan population is under the age of 25, that all of them (“an entire generation” as you note) have had a taste of freedom, education, and opportunity while the U.S. was present, and that Anne had a role in the positive work to bring that about.

We are particularly proud of the work that Anne and her colleagues did to support educating Afghan women, starting with the basics for young children and continuing through teaching adult women how to run their own business, actively participate in society, and compete internationally. Thus, we have taken solace in the belief that Anne’s work will have a lasting effect.

That knowledge, and those experiences will not go away under a repressive government. It will remain locked in the hearts and minds of a majority of the population. Hopefully it will soon surface again and be a force for positive change in the not-too-distant future. Your excellent article gave voice to that hope, and for that we are very thankful.

Tom & Mary Beth Smedinghoff, River Forest

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