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Allah's Orphans: The Story of an Afghan Girl

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Allah’s Orphans: The Story of an Afghan Girl
by Janet Ollila Colberg

ISBN # 0965364747
Retail: $12.00
Published by Summer Kitchen Press
200 Pages, Trade Paperback

Allah's Orphans: The Story of an Afghan Girl by Janet Ollila Colberg

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[Teacher’s Guide]  [Book Club Study Questions]  [Study Answers]
[Author’s Comments]  [Afghan Books]  [Summer Kitchen Press]

Rob Schultheis, Time journalist, noted author, Night Letters: Inside Wartime Afghanistan and Bone Games
“Afghanistan is a country so grand, so rich in tradition and heartbreaking in its history that it almost defies literary description. So it is both surprising and exhilarating to an old Afghan hand like myself to discover a new book that ranks with the handful of classics on the subject. ... As gripping as a good novel, as lyrical as a poem, Allah’s Orphans is also a fine piece of ethnography. Anyone who loves a great human story, who enjoys Barbara Kingsolver, Bapsi Sidhwa or Tracy Chevalier, should read this story of an Afghan girl.” ...more


Shahla Arsala, Afghan widow, mother, teacher and co-founder of the Afghan Widow’s Project
Allah’s Orphans touches the life of the countryside people. The issues are so true - the lives of women, the marriages of young girls, joyous weddings, control of men over women and the happy times of childhood ... I know Allah’s Orphans: The Story of an Afghan Girl will help Afghans.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time and passion to write this warm, touching book.” ...more


Charlotte Baron, Vice President of Fulcrum Publishing Company
“The wonderfully told story of an Afghan girl, Amina Gul, shows us that traditional life in a far-away part of the world is filled with family love, tradition and struggles, yet always there is hope. This story bridges the time from Amina’s childhood into the turbulence at the end of the 20th century. Historical and geographical details are accurate and the glossary and guide questions lead the reader to consider life today in Afghanistan.  Amina Gul captured my heart and I want to know what she is doing now!”


Carolyn Zieg Underwood, Editorial Director, Wild Outdoor World, past Editor, Montana Magazine
Allah’s Orphans: The Story of an Afghan Girl is a treasure, so richly detailed and authentic, you can taste the sun-warmed apricots in the Lodi family orchard. Like the little girl, Amina, you feel safe, nestled in family tradition, comforted by the rhythms of daily life, unaware of political upheaval and approaching war. Author Janet Colberg draws superbly on her knowledge of Afghanistan’s people, history and culture to create Amina and her clan.  The loss of Amina’s childhood to war is the story of millions of children like her - in Afghanistan and beyond.”


Comments from the author, Janet Ollila Colberg
Allah’s Orphans is about the Lodi clan of Southern Afghanistan. A daily diary documented life in Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion. The vantagepoint of a personal relationship with the main character, Amina Gul, Flower of Allah, validates the voice of Afghan children. We see Amina, a soft, chubby toddler through her middle years of curiosity, antics and foibles to a night of war that falls fast and dark, swiping youth of their joy and oftentimes their very lives.

The book conveys the tranquility and hope of an Afghan family even after three decades of war disrupts and destroys Afghanstan. Ghosts of heritage past come to life as Amina Gul learns about the history and tenacity of her Lodi clan.  Inspired by the beauty of her homeland and the meaning of relationships formed at the feet of her protectors, Amina Gul decides not to leave Afghanistan.

The tears and laughter, boys’ capers and young girls’ village weddings, abundance and starvation of Allah’s Orphans bring a welcome contrast to today’s tragic news of Afghanistan. Woven into the story of Afghan village life are frequent references to Allah and the Quran and the way Muslim children change because of their Islamic faith.

Earl Palmer, Senior Pastor of the University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, began a series of sermons about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount with the familiar Beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”  Palmer continued, “Peacemakers are a threat to all parties vying to control; they are disablers of evil for the common good, not enablers for the destruction of humankind. There is no comfort as a peacemaker. It is an abstract concept to share the sum total of our wealth and advantage with even our next-door neighbor.  Why is this so?  It is because peace has no immediate gratification.” We would contemplate the meaning of these words, prophetically spoken only two days before the twin towers tumbled in mortifying dusty repetition on television screens around the world.

In a still, small voice of hope for peace in Afghanistan the book, Allah’s Orphans: The Story of an Afghan Girl, puts comfort on the line. In the final analysis, we do what we have the emotional capacity to complete. If I do not share this story of an Afghan girl with the intention to benefit my fellow man, I have betrayed the reason I was sent to Afghanistan; or worse, betrayed the person I was when I joined the United States Peace Corps.”


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