I've written about Don and Sally Goodrich in my book. On September 11, 2001, their son Peter was killed on United 75, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center . Their response to that loss was to create a foundation in his name that funds a variety of social welfare projects in Afghanistan: a girls' school in Logar province; a water distribution project in a village in Kunar; more schools and an orphanage in Wardak, and, most recently, a library in Bamiyan, whose towering 13th-century Buddhas were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
Don and Sally's involvement with Afghanistan and its people isn't theoretical. It's deep and visceral. Both of them have traveled to that tortured country. Sally says it's the one place on earth where she feels wholly comfortable—because it's a country where everyone has suffered, and takes suffering for granted. As part of that involvement, they've arranged for nine Afghan children to receive educations at prep schools and colleges, primarily in New England and upstate New York . The children—their names are withheld in the interest of their privacy and their families' safety—live with the Goodriches or their extended family during breaks. Their academic performance has been exemplary, and their adaptation to their new lives after years of war, poverty, and displacement is a wonderful thing to witness. They are not turning into American kids—most, if not all of them, will return to their homeland. They are what Afghani kids would be like if they had the luxury of growing up in a country where the fields weren't land-mined and young girls could attend school without the fear of being murdered.
In May one of those kids, a 21-year-old boy, was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma, an aggressive cancer most commonly seen in Africa and in young patients. He has spent most of the last month and a half in and out of emergency rooms and hospitals and is currently receiving a chemotherapy regimen that gives him an estimated 70 percent chance of survival. But the drugs are terrifyingly expensive: Vancomycin, a "last-resort" antibiotic, costs $1000, and the Neupogen injections he was given to stimulate the production of white blood cells were $7000.
It is a terrible thing when any sick person can't afford the treatment she needs to stay alive: It seems all the more terrible when that person was rescued from a battlefield on the other side of the world.
I urge anyone reading this to visit the Goodrich Foundation website to learn more—and to give what s/he can.
Causes Peter Trachtenberg Supports
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Mercy Corps, Move On, Oxfam