When the Taliban began to seize power in Afghanistan in 1996, one of the first of their many brutal acts was to confine women to their homes, denying them an education, the right to work and even medical attention. At that time, Dr. Sohaila Seddiq was serving as the Director of the Academy of Medical Sciences the Military Hospital in Kabul, a city still not under Taliban control. As a trained surgeon, Dr. Seddiq had performed hundreds of operations on civilians and soldiers alike and saved countless lives.

Warned that she was ill, we expected to find 50-year-old Salome Kombe in bed and ready to die. Though she is among an older demographic of HIV-infected Tanzanians, Salome is by no means retiring. Surprisingly, she walked to greet us, looking happy and strong. HIV-positive and living in a one-room shack, Salome is unemployed and struggles to care for three grandchildren; ensuring they have enough food is a daily effort. Her neighbors and family offer some support, but are equally poor.

Strength and CourageOne of the men wanted to speak, and Razia Naeem Khliqi inclined her scarf-draped head and leaned toward him. His tired eyes spoke of pain, but his voice was steady. "The women in our village," he said softly, "are dying."The anguished words of this young man, a volunteer Community Health Worker in the village of Shekh Ali, Parwan Province, are the reason Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is in Afghanistan.