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Ask Us About Afghanistan 2nd in the speaker series at SJIMA

The Life of My Choice: 21 Years in Kabul is second in the Ask Us About Afghanistan series at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art (SJIMA). Marnie Gustavson, a tireless activist for women and children in Afghanistan will be presenting at SJIMA on August 17 at 7 pm.

Gustavson has been the Executive Director of PARSA, an NGO based in Kabul, building Healthy Afghan Communities for 16 years. Founded in 1996, PARSA is a private non-governmental organization working directly with the disadvantaged people of Afghanistan. PARSA supports communities as they make their own development solutions, focusing on promoting social change and a healthy and fair society for all people but especially women and children.

Understanding the importance of community partnership, three ground-breaking programs highlight their mission. With the Ministry of Education, PARSA has helped rebirth the 80-year-old Afghan Scouts program. With the Ministry of Social Affairs, the NGO has the Healthy Afghan Child Program and is working to initiate change in the Afghan National orphanage system to ensure the most vulnerable children can have a care in the post-conflict country.

In 2013, PARSA launched a marketing network for women entrepreneurs called Trade Afghan, to provide access to markets for small farmers and producers.

Marnie Gustavson

She and Dr. Gustavson have conducted staff training for shelter workers in the five NGOs that oversee battered women's shelters. They launched 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.

Ms. Gustavson was featured in Christiane Amanpour’s documentary, “Generation Islam” 2009, and her op-ed piece was included on CNN’s website at this link.

She was educated at Antioch University, Cornish Art Institute, University of Washington, and Whitman College. She studied organizational development and Allied Arts and Communications.

The talks will provide 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. This event is free and no reservations are required. 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

PARSA website is located at: A selection of media articles about PARSA and Marnie's work can be found at


This presentation enhances the experience and understanding of the photography exhibition LOOKING INTO AFGHANISTAN by James Longley at SJIMA until September 12. The hours are Thursday-Monday 11-5 and extra summer hours of Thursday – Saturday 7-9.

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