21 years in Kabul: Marnie Gustavson speaks of a life of choice

Submitted by the San Juan Islands Museum of Art.

Marnie Gustavson, a tireless activist for women and children in Afghanistan, will present The Life of My Choice: 21 Years in Kabul at Friday Harbor’s San Juan Islands Museum of Art Wednesday, August 17 at 7 p.m. This event is free and reservations are not required.

Gustavson has been the executive director of PARSA, a private, non-governmental organization that focuses on promoting social change and a healthy and fair society for all people, especially women and children. Founded in 1996 and based in Kabul, the organization has been building healthy Afghan communities for 16 years. With a mission of understanding the importance of community partnership, PARSA has helped rebirth the 80-year-old Afghan Scouts program through its Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Social Affairs manages the Healthy Afghan Child Program, which works to initiate change in the Afghan national orphanage system to ensure the most vulnerable children have adequate care in the post-conflict country.

In 2013, PARSA launched a marketing network for women entrepreneurs called Trade Afghan providing access to markets for small farmers and producers. Gustavson’s work has involved collaborating to provide training for shelter workers in the five NGOs that oversee battered women’s shelters and launching a national psychosocial program in eight provinces called Healthy Afghan Professional Women support groups. Her consulting work in organizational development, leadership and management has included Roshan Telecom, UN Women, UNOPS, DANNER, American University of Afghanistan, and Equal Access Radio.

Gustavson was featured in Christiane Amanpour’s 2009 documentary, “Generation Islam.”

The Life of My Choice: 21 Years in Kabul is the second in a series of opportunities to learn about the culture of Afghanistan, Islam, advocacy for women and children, and James Longley’s personal stories of everyday life, all leading to a better understanding of this ancient and troubled region. Gustavson’s The Life of My Choice: 21 Years in Kabul is sponsored by RaVae Luckhart and Jack Rice, Rob Ray, and the Town of Friday Harbor. SJIMA is located at 540 Spring Street, Friday Harbor, WA. See more at www.sjima.org. Learn more about PARSA at www.afghanistan-parsa.org.

Museum hours are Thursday – Monday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. with additional summer hours of Thursday – Saturday 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

For more information, call Diane Martindale at 360-370-5814 or email