~ 4 minute read

Tell Me What Happened and the Afghan-American Alliance

Date: 04 May 2022

The other day a friend of mine and I were having lunch. She told me about the book she was reading. I reached back and picked up my book, Tell Me What Happened.

"This is what I have been doing during the pandemic," I said. "I, with a lot of help, have published this book.”

She quickly read through it and purchased seven bought to take with her. I asked her what she was going to do with them. "One for my sister, and a few for friends of mine who are in the process of helping Afghan families who are coming to our country.”

She told me about her friends who served in Afghanistan. They were supported there by the native people who helped our armed forces with language and knowledge of the country. Now these men were returning that kindness by helping those Afghans and their families come here and assimilate into our world through an organization called Operation Zulu 18. It was a warming idea to me that the book could be of value to these people.

Our lunch was on a Wednesday. She called on Sunday, saying she needed seventeen more books. I was overwhelmed, and asked her what she was going to do with so many books. She told me her veteran friends decided to give to each student entering our schools one of the books to take as a gift for their new teacher. I was speechless.

I thought through this new information and wondered if this was a cultural expression of the Afghani people. Then it came to me that my mother grew dahlias which bloom in the fall. I remembered that she sent each of her children to school one day with an armload of dahlias for the teacher. Then I vaguely remembered near the end of school she had each of our teachers for an evening meal as a sort of thank you. I hadn't remembered these gestures for a long, long time.

She came on Sunday afternoon and left with the seventeen books.

Again I wondered over the effect of the book which was being handed to our teachers by immigrant children. My wonder grew as I considered how the book was being used for smoother entry of these students into a new life style and a new culture. I was in awe of what was happening to my story -- a use that had never occurred to me. And it was entirely out of my hands. It was as if this timely story had moved to another plane, one that I could only observe.

A couple of weeks later, she called. The men bringing over the families were setting up a meeting with the Muslim school teachers here in the city. Would I like to come? Of course I would. I asked if it would be proper to carry along a few of the books to have in case someone wanted to buy one. Her reply stunned me.

"I will buy twenty more books and hand them out."

The meeting has not been put on the calendar yet. It will be a grand event for me.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I was the presenter at a writers club. I told about the process of getting the book published; the use of an illustrator, the font, the placement of illustrations and words on paper, the challenge of waiting for seventy illustrations to be completed. I mentioned how the basic story had been enriched by the publisher and the illustrator. I found opportunities from their observations to enhance the whole endeavor. That part was exhilarating. The patience to see it come together was not.

At that meeting was a woman I did not know. Later she told me that her son lived in Atlanta and was the treasurer of the Afghan American Alliance in Atlanta. I gave her a book (distribution for sales) and she mailed it to her son. Then she emailed me, mentioning two friends who might find this a worthy cause.

It is too soon to know how these surprising and varied opportunities will develop. It is enough to be aware of the power of the word. I am amazed and grateful to be a part of the development. It may be that I will never obtain the return of my financial investment. But the investment of the three of us (publisher, illustrator, author) is as valuable as any effort we can ever be a part of.

More events may occur. Then I will update.


Tell Me What Happened