about mary ann

Mary Ann Callahan worked in Afghanistan from 2003-2012, living for a large portion of that time independently among Afghans, in Afghan neighborhoods and connecting to the local population on a personal as well as official level. Her most important role was to develop and administer an independent journalism program that helped to train Afghan journalists to report accurately to the Afghan public regarding the development of their country and the importance of the international presence in assisting that development. Her work in assisting in the creation of such a program was recognized by key elements within the Afghan Government, who welcomed accurate reporting of the positive work being done to help build a new, contemporary Afghanistan. Ms. Callahan is now back home in the US and lives in Upstate New York.

It is from the wealth of experiences of her years in Afghanistan that the stories of her books and her unique insights have  come.

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the blog

  • Afghanistan’s Dead and Dying

      11 January 2015 On January 6th of this first week of 2015, the NY Times printed an article entitled“Ferrying the Dead of Both Sides in a Cruel Afghan War”.  It tells the story of an Afghan man named Abdul Hakim who retrieves the bodies of the dead for burial for both sides of the conflict that still rages on in his native Afghanistan.  His acts of kindness began after a search for his own sons, who were killed by Taliban forces and cruelly buried by them in a shallow grave.  Mr. Hakim retrieved those first bodies himself, using his bare hands.  Now, many bodies later, he despairs for his embattled land, which seems immune to healing.  The questions seem to be, when much of the world has tried to help it in so many ways, why is Afghanistan still filled with fighting and dying?  Will Mr. Hakim ever be freed from his terrible task? Indeed Afghanistan has always been a place that has seethed with constant battles. Its history seems to hold little space for the pursuits of development or progress, its heroes for the people few and far between.  In fact, Afghan history is a litany of ceaseless contests of power and self-serving braggadocio dressed up as national pride, the pursuits of the selfish few who held power at the expense of the many who did not. How do I know?  How dare I make such a statement?  I wish with all my heart that it were not […]

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  • 9/11/2014

    9/11/2014 It’s a cloudy day here in Upstate New York this September 11, 2014. It is quite unlike the pristinely sunny day thirteen years ago that so changed our world.  On that day I remember a brilliant blue sky and a sense of calm that has not been felt since those planes veered off course and into history. For me personally, it has been a long, winding journey. A couple of years after the attacks I actually found myself going to Afghanistan. Like so many Americans, I wanted to do something to help so that some good could come of the madness. I wanted to believe that the tragedy of those attacks could lead to a better world as we took care of the bad guys and helped the victims in places like Afghanistan. Along with so many others, I wanted to believe that this latest intervention by the good guys could turn things around and make everything all right once more. The reality, seen through the lens of more than a decade is that the world is infinitely more complex than we had imagined in those innocent days before 9/11. Yet it is still a world in which humanity and its attendant virtues are the most important assets as we move forward. We need to be connected and we need to remember that not everyone who is different from us is bad. And we need to keep talking to one another. Truth is that sometimes people talk at one […]

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