Boston Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

Movie and Discussion Panel: "Once in Afghanistan"

Nov 18 2010 - 6:15pm - 9:00pm

A film by
Jill Vickers and Jody Bergedick

website  |  Listen to a VPR broadcast interview about the film

This is a free event at the Cambridge Public Library at 449 Broadway. 

MBTA: from Harvard Square, take either the 69 bus which goes from Harvard Square to Cambridge Street | 68 bus, which goes from Harvard Square to Kendall. 

  • Seating at 6:15PM. 
  • Movie will start at 6:30PM. 
  • Panel discussion will start after the movie ends at about 7:45PM. 
  • At 9PM all are welcome to continue the discussion at a nearby coffee shop or restaurant- TBD.

If you would like to donate to an Afghan charity, please see below information. 

About the Movie

After 9/11, a group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers documented their stories and images in the film “Once in Afghanistan.” They’d served in Afghanistan before the decades of violence began and still vividly recalled the hospitality of the people. The American women had joined teams of Afghan male vaccinators stationed either over the Hindu Kush Mountains north of Kabul or in the southern, more conservative part of this Muslim country. It was 1969 and the World Health Organization had made eradication of smallpox its top priority. Struggling with the challenges of vaccinating in a country of high mountains and vast deserts where many of the Afghan women and older girls could not be seen, much less vaccinated, by a male outside her family, the Peace Corps vaccinators began work. They got to the villages by jeep and proceeded on foot, going house-by-house and then village-by-village to cover an area. They stayed overnight with their team in family compounds and ate whatever the host family provided. 

Through the generosity of its viewers, the group has raised over $12,000 for Afghan charities. Their stories, from interviews and photographs, make people smile, shudder and also feel hopeful that today, when messages of hate travel faster and farther than ever before, this message of understanding can be felt so deeply and shared so completely. 

Two Vermont film festivals included it and an interview with one of the producers, RPCV Jill Vickers, was broadcast on VPR’s “All Things Considered.” Independent theaters, libraries, and colleges from Boothbay Harbor, ME to Albuquerque, NM and Seattle, WA to Key West, FL have featured it. “Once in Afghanistan” was shown at this year’s Global Health conference in D.C. and plans are to include it as part of Peace Corps Atlanta’s celebration of the 50th anniversary at The Carter Center.

About the Panel

  • Kendall Dudley (Moderator), Iran 1967-1969
  • Kristina Engstrom, Afghanistan Training Staff 1968-1970
  • Warren Sawyer, Country Director Iran 1971-1974
  • Andy Starkis, Iran 1966-1968
  • Deezie Stebbins, Afghanistan 1969-1971
  • Jill Vickers (Film Producer), Afghanistan 1969  >> read panelists bios 

Buy the film or donate

To order the film or donate to the Afgan non-profit organizations, please click here. All profits support selected NGO's in Afghanistan and Afghan students in U.S. high schools.


Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

By Anna - Posted on 10 October 2010

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