By Tori Masucci
Northern California is home to thousands from the Afghan diaspora, representing the fragmented generations who left their war-stricken homeland in the wake of the conflicts that began after 9-11. In 2004, San Francisco engineer Masood Sattari recognized the need for aid in Afghanistan, and, looking to raise public involvement in relief efforts by creating a space for discussion and progress, his Rebuild Afghanistan Summit was born.
"There are 8 million people here in the Bay Area," Sattari says. "We have a very diverse community, but we are also highly educated and very wealthy compared to the rest of the nation and, of course, the rest of the world. People in this area have a responsibility to help in this effort and make an impact for the people of Afghanistan, because we have the resources available."
On Nov. 1, at Dominican University, the Rebuild Afghanistan committee holds its sixth annual summit with over 20 organizations in attendance committing to humanitarian work in Afghanistan, including building schools, de-mining, improving medical care and instituting further economic development programs to the country.
Keynote speakers Dr. Nahid Azziz, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at Argosy University, as well as Norman Soloman, will present speeches that address the well-being of Afghan citizens and the challenges that come with humanitarian work in the Middle East.
Instability in Afghanistan has made direct relief efforts over the past few years difficult, yet Sattari remains confident that the awareness and generosity of the public who become involved with volunteer organizations are the key to creating positive changes for Afghanistan's future.
"The out-of-the-box thinking that occurs at each summit can improve things all around the world," he says. "Every year we have slowly been growing, and this year we're trying to do things a little differently by providing more funding resources for the organizations and workshop ways that they can support each other."
The 2009 Rebuild Afghanistan Summit features workshops touching on a range of subjects such as funding, improving education and mental health, and rebuilding according to the Islamic and cultural traditions of Afghanistan.
"We encourage everyone in the community to come learn about the organizations and figure out how they can help the cause. We leave the event open to anyone who has ideas and wants to improve the situation in Afghanistan," Sattari says.
The sixth annual Rebuild Afghanistan Summit is open to the public and takes place on Sunday, Nov. 1, from 11am to 5pm. Dominican University of California, Guzman Hall, second floor, 50 Acacia Ave., San Rafael. Admission is free; box lunches will be available for minimal price. 510.612.5566.
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