‘One Girl With Courage Is a Revolution’

A Nepalese girl flies a kite in Katmandu, Nepal, Oct. 22, 2012. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Robert Blake serves as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA).

Suma Tharu, a girl from Nepal, was sold into indentured servitude (Kamlari) at the age of six and braved another six years of forced labor and physical abuse, before a teacher took her under his wing. With the help of an NGO called Room to Read, whose work is supported by the State Department, Suma joined a local school and is close to graduating from high school. She plans to become a health educator and advocate for girls’ education and ending the Kamlari system that entrapped her. 

Suma’s grit and determination to change the grim reality of the life into which she was born is truly remarkable. Her story was featured, along with those of girls from Haiti, India, Afghanistan, and other countries, in the inspirational documentary Girl Rising,…more »

Christmas in Kabul

Afghans walk down a snow covered road after a snowstorm in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 23, 2012. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Janet Heg serves as a Cultural Affairs Assistant at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

As Christmas approaches, my husband and I are almost halfway through our year-long assignment to Kabul. Serving at an unaccompanied post was not something we had to do, but something we chose to do. We expected the work to be interesting and rewarding, but we had no idea how many special, rare, and unique moments were in store for us.

I consider myself enormously privileged to have the opportunity to meet a wide variety of Afghans, many of them students and many of them incredibly brave. I value the brief glimpses into the lives of others, the few moments when I learn a little about the difficulties that other people face daily.

In a provincial capital, women talked about some of the obstacles that prevent girls getting an education. In one village, for example, girls cannot go to school after sixth grade because there is no female teacher and adolescent… more »

Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake Jr. Travels to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 13, 2012

Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake Jr. is traveling to Almaty, Kazakhstan from August 14-15 and Tashkent, Uzbekistan from August 15-18, 2012.

In Almaty, Assistant Secretary Blake will hold a roundtable discussion with business leaders on regional economic integration in Central Asia.

In Tashkent, Assistant Secretary Blake will lead the U.S. delegation for the third United States-Uzbekistan Annual Bilateral Consultations. The Annual Bilateral Consultations are a structured policy dialogue designed to advance our common agenda and opportunities for cooperation across the full range of bilateral and regional issues. The delegations will discuss all aspects of the U.S.-Uzbekistan relationship, including regional stability and security, democracy and human rights, counternarcotics, education and cultural exchanges, and economic development and trade. The U.S. delegation will also meet with representatives from Uzbek civil society. 

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr., responds to questions during a live Facebook chat at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on June 11, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr., responds to questions during a live Facebook chat at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on June 11, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Building Cultural Bridges in Afghanistan

The ANIM Youth Orchestra performs in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 27, 2011. [Embassy Kabul photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Esperanza Tilghman serves as Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer in the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Ralph Bunche, U.S. diplomat and the first African American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1950), once said: “If you want to get across an idea, wrap it up in a person.”

I could not agree more, and we are doing just that through U.S. Embassy Kabul’s Mission Speakers Program (MSP). The MSP recruits speakers from throughout the embassy by simply finding out about our colleague’s experiences, and then building a relevant outreach event around their expertise for Afghan participants. For example, the first MSP activity connected a female diplomat who happened to be a former college basketball player with a group of high school girls participating in an embassy-funded sports and leadership program. Her presentation to the girls underscored the value of hard work, determination, and goal-planning, as she told the group: “Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t fear what others… more »

U.S. e-Interns Facilitate Cross-Cultural Understanding in Tajikistan
A group of students in Pineville, West Virginia, chat with high school and university students in Khorugh, Tajikistan, as part of Embassy Dushanbe's innovative webchat series in February 2012.

About the Author: Damian Wampler serves as Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

The U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan recently enlisted the assistance of American univeristy and college students to help us build relationships with the people of Tajikistan. Leveraging the State Department’s Virtual Student Foreign Service eInternship Program (VSFS), the embassy worked with VSFS e-interns to organize more than 12 webchats between students and professionals in the United States and Tajik students and civil society representatives at American Corners in Tajikistan.

Tajikistan’s six American Corners are located in some of the most remote places on Earth. One of them can be found in Khorugh, a town nestled in the country’s rocky Pamir region — wedged between impenetrable mountains and… more »

U.S., Pakistan Committed to Energy Solutions
A Pakistani mother and son head back to home after visiting weekly bazaar in Islamabad, Pakistan on May 22, 2011. [AP Photo]

About the Author: Robert Raines serves as Acting Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The United States and Pakistan reviewed progress on ongoing energy programs and recommitted themselves to pursuing practical solutions to Pakistan’s energy needs during the latest Pakistan-United States Energy Dialogue this week. Ambassador Carlos Pascual, U.S. Department of State Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs, joined Pakistani Minister of Water and Power Naveed Qamar to reaffirm the partnership. They met September 14-15 in Islamabad.

“As all Pakistanis know, reliable and affordable energy is critical to Pakistan’s prosperity. Without it, businesses can’t operate and families can’t light and cool their homes. Pakistan’s future depends on power,” Ambassador Pascual said at the opening of the Dialogue. “There are no quick fixes to this crisis, but the United States and international partners are willing to help. We will continue to support Pakistan in… more »

Ambassador Crocker on the Attacks in Kabul
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker speaks during an interview at the U.S Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2011. [AP Photo]

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker released a statement today on the September 13 attacks in Kabul. Ambassador Crocker said:

“Yesterday was a long and difficult day for the U.S. Embassy, for ISAF and for the residents of Kabul. We witnessed both cowardly attacks by an increasingly desperate insurgency, as well as instances of enormous courage and dedication on the part of ISAF troops and especially the Afghan National Security Forces. It was Afghan police and soldiers who bravely ended the attack on the embassy and stopped further strikes on Kabul Airport, two police stations, and a local high school. We mourn the Afghan civilians and the brave troops and security forces killed in these actions, and wish a full recovery to the wounded, which include Afghan civilians and… more »

U.S. and Pakistan Combat Foot and Mouth Disease
Farmer ploughs a field for rice cultivation near Mehmood Kot in central Pakistan on July 25, 2011. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Robert Raines serves as Acting Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The United States and Pakistan are working together to fight foot and mouth disease, which is estimated to cause $82 million in economic damage to rural Pakistani families every year. The United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA), in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Government of Pakistan, is supporting this effort with a comprehensive $9 million dollar program to provide training and equipment to researchers, veterinarians, and epidemiologists throughout Pakistan.

“Foot and mouth disease causes significant damage to the Pakistani livestock population and to the farmers who depend on them for their livelihood,” said David Wolf, Senior Agriculture Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. “This training will allow Pakistani scientists to use the latest technologies and treatments to fight against this disease all around… more »