Speech delivered on January 8, 2016 in Washington, D.C.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for being here with us this evening.
I'm going to give you a brief background that will explain how I had the honour of becoming a part of this incredible project that could change the entire future of a nation that is in dire need of change.
Like so many countless Afghan families, my family was forced to flea Afghanistan when I was just five years old, leaving behind our home, loved ones, and everything we knew. While growing up in Canada, My parents reminded me on a regular basis of our blessings: the freedoms and opportunities given to me growing up in North America. Watching on the news what was happening to our country. Women getting stoned to death. Young girls forced into early marriage, killed, oppressed and not allowed an education -- I could have easily been one of those girls - but I would take the opportunities given to me here to give back to a nation I had left behind. Be the voice for those who didn't have one, stand up for those who couldn't. I decided that music and the media would be a way to reach people and make a difference on a much larger scale. This led to an opportunity to move to Afghanistan to host my own TV show, which led to an offer from Azizi foundation to help me provide necessities for orphanages on a regular basis. Being with these children made me realize the significance of this generation. These youth, and children are the future of Afghanistan, but these orphans and even regular school children did not have the basic necessities.
I remember a group of young school boys and girls with no shoes, shoes with holes, ripped slippers barely staying on their feet as they passed a flat ball to each other with so much joy and laughter. With the foundations help I was able to provide school supplies, running shoes, track suits, and soccer balls to over 1000 boys and girls.
BUT .... I never imagined that one day I would be able to say WE ARE BUILDING A STADIUM. Mr. Atta Amin has a vision. His love for his nation is one that I have never witnessed before. When he told me about his plan - I knew he was going to make it happen. I have NEVER in my life witnessed that kind of love and determination.
For over 35 years Afghans have endured too much pain and suffering. All they want is what anyone wants. To live in peace. To be happy, and to feel safe in their own home.
For the past 13 years the international community has tried everything to make this happen. They've poured billions of dollars into the country to restructure, rebuild, provide jobs, build the economy. It's all wonderful and much appreciated. But they have missed a very important point.
A country's biggest weakness is the divide among its citizens. Unfortunately, Afghans, for the past 40 years of war, have lost their sense of nationalism. Even before the war, tribal, and ethnic divide has been common.
And then SUDDENLY a miracle happened.
In 2013 the nation witnessed magic. Something incredible and unprecedented. For the first time afghans joined together as one nation to celebrate our soccer team after they won the South Asian championship.
Our sports teams have managed to gain international success even with a severe lack of resources and support. Our cricket team has been recognized as one of the top 10 strongest teams in the world and our soccer team is going strong. Imagine what they can achieve if they DID have the resources, imagine what future generations can achieve, the impact this all will have on a nation so torn.
The most important thing for Afghans is to feel a sense of unity, and pride... A sense of stability and hope for the future.
With this stadium project we will be building an entire community including community outreach programs, medical, dental, pharmacy facilities, schools, afterchool educational programs, centres helping street children of Kabul, the Mohammad Ali Centre and so much more.
This stadium will be a national gem that will bring the nation together as one and we can all be a part of it.
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