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  1. Carol Anne Grayson says

    Dear John, you have created a beautiful legacy in the name of your daughter. I smile reading about Linda as I can relate to her in many ways, having travelled to some of the same destinations with the belief that love and care overcome borders and cultural differences.

    As someone who has had an active role behind the scenes in prisoner exchange/ release in Afghanistan, I feel very fortunate that my own life tragedy losing 3 of my family to the Contaminated Blood scandal in the UK opened this unusual door for me as an individual, unfunded and independent of any organization. This has including several years of direct contact with the Taliban on health and human rights. With faith anything is possible. I have found them to be respectful, helpful, empathetic and supportive, now they are like brothers to me, I their sister…. and I have hope for the future.

    I always believed the way to peace was via prisoner release and to that end became involved in the US soldier Bowe Bergdahl/Taliban, Guantanamo prisoner exchange which was carried out peacefully and was successful despite the criticism we received at the time. (The US military initially wanted to go in heavy handed but it was not necessary.) No one was hurt, no one had to die like Linda! Then a further exchange, Anas Haqqani and others for university professors Tim Weeks and Kevin King which opened the door to peace talks in Doha.

    Since then around 5,000 Taliban have been released from Afghan prisons and Afghan military, police and others set free by the Taliban, often with a little money to return home. I pushed for early prisoner release due to coronavirus as we in the UK had notification of the virus before it was viewed as a serious health hazard in Afghanistan. The Taliban listened and acted on this information, in fact they were quicker to act on coronavirus than the Afghan government in their areas of control.

    I always believed whilst they were in captivity that if Tim and Anas met they would both be like brothers and would greatly assist the peace process… to that end once freed I suggested to Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan that they meet. The meeting went ahead in Doha, a beautiful meeting by all accounts and their friendship continues.

    I respect your choice to support smaller projects, frankly I have little time for the big international NGOs being aware of the wide-scale corruption in some organizations and how little help reaches those on the ground.

    I also want to say that it is my belief that the wives, daughters, sisters, mothers of the Taliban must not be excluded from support to assist their communities, this is also necessary for peace. What you will never read in western media is the valuable work they do, some trained as doctors, teachers, business women in the most challenging of circumstances. I have come to understand and admire these women, their strength, faith and care for others. Your daughter may have had a small glimpse during her time in Afghanistan.

    Out of tragedy amazing things can happen that can restore your faith in others. Linda would be very proud of what you are doing to carry on her work. Blessings to you and your family and my prayers for peace in Afghanistan.

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