Afghan businesswoman Lima Ahmad wanted as much education as possible when she came to Thunderbird School of Global Management in 2006 as a Project Artemis fellow. She welcomed the two-week business course in Glendale, Arizona, but dreamed of earning a full degree.
Lima finally will get the chance when she arrives Aug. 15, 2010, as a full-time student at Bucknell Univeristy in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. “Higher education is considered a basic need in this era, but for many Afghans it is still a dream,” Lima said. “My dream is to be a global advocate for peace and development, and this opportunity at Bucknell University will help me to shape my career.”
Erica (Haefner) Ferro ’97, a Project Artemis mentor who has worked with Lima for four years, will meet Lima at the airport in Pennsylvania and help her move into her college dormitory. The friends have not seen each other in person since their days together at Thunderbird.
Project Artemis mentors make a two-year commitment to work with their Afghan counterparts, but Erica decided to extend her relationship with Lima.
“I don’t think I ever will be done,” said Erica, an IBM business development manager in Colorado. “Lima and I have a great relationship, and I think we are hooked together for life.”
Lima came to Thunderbird with 14 other Afghan businesswomen in the second cohort of Project Artemis, a women’s empowerment program that Thunderbird launched in 2005. The third cohort came to campus in 2008, and a fourth group will arrive in October 2010.
Lima, who was 23 at the time, ran a clothing design and production company called Made in Afghanistan. When she returned to Kabul, she expanded the business and found other sources of income.
She also pursued a degree in international relations at the American University of Afghanistan, but the ongoing war in Afghanistan created interruptions.
“Every time there was a bomb or some sort of incident, the instructors would get pulled out,” Erica said. “This created long delays.”
Erica said her friend has shown a remarkable ability to reinvent her dreams and press forward regardless of the obstacles. “She works and works until she gets what she wants,” Erica said. “She never gives up.”
Women in many parts of Afghanistan face persecution and violence when they enter the work force, but Lima said they have become a powerful force in the economy. “Women are business owners,” she said. “They are doctors, politicians, social workers and leaders. I am also trying my bit to contribute to my country development and to maintain a peaceful world.”
Follow Lima’s blog, which she started in January 2010.