A group of educators that I am associated with choose a book every year to discuss in a book group. The Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez was our selection for the 2007-2008. I am not sure that I otherwise would have found this book, but it definitely had an effect on me.
Do you ever read a book that causes you to question what you are doing with your life? That makes you realize there is so much more you could be doing to make the world a better place? That makes you see the people out there that can use their skills to make positive change while you are sitting around drinking Guinness? The kind of book that makes you want to be a better person? This was one of those books.
The premise of this memoir/non fiction book is that Ms. Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother from middle America, finagles her way into a humanitarian team heading to Afghanistan after the September 11th terrorist attacks. On this team of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals, she questions her usefulness while continuing to make friends with the local Afghanis and cutting the hair of the expatriates and aid workers who find themselves living in or visiting Kabul. While there, an idea is born. She decides to start a beauty school to train Afghani women, giving them autonomy and newfound respect in their families in this patriarchal culture.
I was impressed by how Ms. Rodriguez was able to identify her strengths and over come many obstacles to make her idea a reality and to better the lives of so many women in Afghanistan. In the same situation, I wonder if I would be able to think as big and execute such a plan to make it a reality. If you have any interest in humanitarian aid and international projects this book is a must read. I found it both enjoyable and entertaining.