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The Keeper of Families (eBook)

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  • 74,848 Words
  • 372 Pages

The Keeper of Families

Jean Heringman Willacy’s Afghan Diaries

In a story never-before-told, these diaries reveal the astonishing double life of American Jean Heringman Willacy, alternating -at retirement age- a quiet existence in sleepy southern England, with her other life in vibrant, volatile Afghanistan.

As Jean travels back and forth, initially exporting fashionable Afghan coats, one of her worlds is crumbling before her very eyes: Afghanistan is shaken by violent upheaval, a society forcibly changed, and a refugee crisis of global dimensions unleashed.

Shocked eyewitness to the brutal military coup that leads to the Soviet invasion -and fearing for the lives of her many friends- Jean is transformed from businesswoman to tireless advocate for Afghan refugees.

For the next twenty years, as together they strive to overcome the horrors of the Soviet-Afghan War and its aftermath, Jean proves to be a formidable foe, when fighting the tyranny of bureaucracy, and a staunch ally to all refugees whom she befriends -their ‘Keeper of Families.’

Now compiled and transcribed by her third daughter, Sue Heringman, Jean’s unusual Afghan legacy features:

A foreigner’s eye-witness account and photographs of the communist coup Live tape recordings from the streets of Kabul First-hand experience of living in a Soviet puppet state Stories of sharing life in the refugee camps in Pakistan and the life of refugees in exile Interviews with Afghan women and their different perspectives on Afghan life Tales from the hinterlands of the karakul fur trade An art project for Afghan refugee children and their wartime drawings

‘The Keeper of Families’ is a story that, tragically, remains all too relevant today, as Afghanistan still makes headlines and one refugee crisis follows another.

Reckless or courageous, can this one woman, on her own, make a difference?

The Keeper of Families

Jean Heringman Willacy’s Afghan Diaries

In a story never-before-told, these diaries reveal the astonishing double life of American Jean Heringman Willacy, alternating -at retirement age- a quiet existence in sleepy southern England, with her other life in vibrant, volatile Afghanistan.

As Jean travels back and forth, initially exporting fashionable Afghan coats, one of her worlds is crumbling before her very eyes: Afghanistan is shaken by violent upheaval, a society forcibly changed, and a refugee crisis of global dimensions unleashed.

Shocked eyewitness to the brutal military coup that leads to the Soviet invasion -and fearing for the lives of her many friends- Jean is transformed from businesswoman to tireless advocate for Afghan refugees.

For the next twenty years, as together they strive to overcome the horrors of the Soviet-Afghan War and its aftermath, Jean proves to be a formidable foe, when fighting the tyranny of bureaucracy, and a staunch ally to all refugees whom she befriends -their ‘Keeper of Families.’

Now compiled and transcribed by her third daughter, Sue Heringman, Jean’s unusual Afghan legacy features:

A foreigner’s eye-witness account and photographs of the communist coup Live tape recordings from the streets of Kabul First-hand experience of living in a Soviet puppet state Stories of sharing life in the refugee camps in Pakistan and the life of refugees in exile Interviews with Afghan women and their different perspectives on Afghan life Tales from the hinterlands of the karakul fur trade An art project for Afghan refugee children and their wartime drawings

‘The Keeper of Families’ is a story that, tragically, remains all too relevant today, as Afghanistan still makes headlines and one refugee crisis follows another.

Reckless or courageous, can this one woman, on her own, make a difference?


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