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Afghanistan’s Two Adopted Grandmothers

59-year-old grandmother Major Jo Danner of the Air Force Reserves will be leaving her family and home at the end of December to travel to Afghanistan and serve four months as a nurse in a military hospital.

Major Danner joined the Air Force Reserve 13 years ago in her late forties. She's already been called up once, serving her time in Washington. Afghanistan will be different, spending four months in a hospital treating both military personnel and civilians.

Major Jo Danner expressed her commitment to helping the people of Afghanistan in numerous conversations with reporters. "Whoever needs help. Ladies having babies. Kids with broken legs. People who step on landmines. Whatever needs to be done,” she said.

When Major Jo Danner arrives in Afghanistan, she will join Nancy Hatch-Dupree as another adopted grandmother of Afghanistan. Ms. Hatch-Dupree, 78, has traveled extensively throughout Afghanistan and written five guidebooks on the country's cultural heritage. Ms. Hatch-Dupree has lived in Afghanistan on-and-off for decades, first arriving with her husband, the celebrated Afghanistan scholar and archaeologist Louis Dupree.

In 1989, following her husband’s death, Ms. Hatch-Dupree returned to Afghanistan with a noble goal: building a library for Kabul University. Gathering over 37,000 publications, Hatch-Dupree has received a plot of land upon which to build a library and research center. She hopes to raise $2 million for the project. When it is completed the Afghan Center at Kabul University will host the world's largest collection of recent Afghan history. The collection presently contains over 36,000 volumes. The documents come from many sources, a large proportion being from NGOs and UN agencies. A catalog of the entire collection has been put online, in English and Dari, and can be accessed at:

The Afghan Center has also produced several dozen mobile libraries that dispatch approximately 200 Dari- and Pashtu-language books to the provinces. The books are primarily for novice readers as a way to improve literacy. The mobile-libraries also carry self-help books that educate rural citizens about a range of issues such as health care, nutrition and farming.

As nurses or archaeologists or librarians, men and women of all ages from around the world have come to Afghanistan to help the people rebuild.

For more information on the Afghan Center, you can visit their website at:

To donate materials or funds to the Afghan Center, email: [email protected] 


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