Echoes Across Afghanistan, "Choi, Choi, Naan" is an intertwining story of American women as Peace Corps volunteers who vaccinated women and children against smallpox in Afghanistan, and of a young Pashtun male vaccinator, Khan Mohammad Alami. The American vaccinators spent two years traveling on mobile vaccinating teams, lived without electricity, inside plumbing or toilets, and slept each night on a dirt floor in a different village. During the Soviet invasion, Khan Alami assisted the American Embassy in an attempt to free his home land. He was arrested and tortured by the secret police, escapted with his wife and three small children to Pakistan,and eventually he and his family became sucessful American citizens.
To us, life is a trip traveling on an uncharted path. Carol's trip began in 1941 growing up on a small farm in rural Pennsylvania and going to a one room schoolhouse with eight grades. She went on to get a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pennsylvania State University, and a Masters degree from Chapman College. After a successful career in the Federal Civil Service, she retired and wrote this book about Peace Corps group XI volunteers (of which she was one) who vaccinated women and children against smallpox in Afghanistan from 1967 through 1969. The book also tells the remarkable story of a young Afghan, Khan Mohammad Alami, whose trip began in the village of Zarifkhil, Wardak Province in Afghanistan. His family are members of the Durrani tribe of Pushtuns originally from the Khandahar area. He worked as a smallpox vaccinator and was a counterpart to the American women Peace Corps vaccinators. Later, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, he bravely worked for the American Embassy as a political advisor and interpreter, was harrassed, arrested and tortured by the secret police, and escaped on foot over the Hindu Kush mountains with his wife and three small children to Pakistan. He and his family are now sucessful American citizens living in the Washington D.C. area. Khan is retired from a career with the Voice of America and collaborated in the writing of his life story in this book.
In March of 1967, the letter arrived. It was a major event; my life and the lives of forty-two other young American women changed forever. The letter was from the Peace Corps office in Washington D.C., which invited us to begin training to become a Peace Corps volunteer as a smallpox vaccinator in Afghanistan. The training would take about ten weeks and be held in Brattleboro, Vermont, at the Experiment in International Living. The program was sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations and was part of their worldwide effort to eradicate smallpox.