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

  • When Will They Ever Learn?

      It seems that US efforts to build up Afghan security forces are now classified.  The report of the decision to withhold information on the mission of the US military in support of Afghan forces comes at a very interesting time. Granted, Afghans must now defend their country after the official end of US military involvement and subsequent US troop withdrawals and they may still need help. But the report comes at a very interesting time in the annals of the US in Afghanistan. It comes alongside an announcement that a long time USAID contractor who was given large amounts of funding for work in Afghanistan has been suspended pending investigations into its use, or rather, alleged misuse, of that federal funding. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/01/29/transparency-goes-on-holiday-in-afghanistan It seems that assistance to Afghan forces, assistance that will cost US taxpayers and families a high price in potential casualties and loss of further treasure, must now be classified, although one is hard pressed to find a sound reason anywhere in the report for the decision. Classified, as in no one can see what is going on in a place already fraught with allegations of massive corruption and a track record of failed programs that have made the US look less than effective in its foreign policies.  Classified, meaning the American people cannot know what is going on. It may indeed be reasonable to insist that Afghanistan still needs US assistance in moving forward and that the Afghan security forces are not quite ready to do […]

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  • The High Cost of High Costs

    The High Cost of High Costs By Mary Ann Callahan Something extraordinary happened in Washington in this last week of January 2015.   International Relief and Development, a long time USAID contractor given hundreds of millions of dollars for projects in post conflict countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, has been shut down pending investigations into fiscal wrong doing related to those projects. Once the “darling child” of development, IRD, a non-profit organization with the lion heart of a corporation, once held its own with Fortune 500 companies also given tax payer funds for such projects as massive road construction or electricity infrastructures.   Alleged misuse of funds is a serious matter, and it is gratifying that the government has finally taken steps to address the issue. It has long been suspected by many that there were things that were very wrong within some of the IRD projects, and it may be that more will be unearthed as the investigations continue. Yet, it will be interesting to see if anyone will make the connection between misuse of funds and the fact that US policies in places like Afghanistan are crippled when money becomes the be all and end all. International projects in reconstruction and development in post conflict countries like the ones IRD was given are already precarious and leaning toward failure, partly because in almost all cases, these projects are never properly communicated to the local population in ways that make them active participants.  In fact, the opposite is usually true. IRD […]

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