Diana Haskins’s story is one of tremendous hope for children all over the world who suffer from any number of horrors, including personal abuse, war trauma, lack of education and malnourishment. While many of us empathize with the reports we hear about such misery, Diana Haskins is doing something about it: she has embraced the children and women of Afghanistan who suffer from all this and more, putting her boundless energy and network marketing savvy and resources to good purpose.

 

Painful Beginnings

Diana knows firsthand about suffering, having experienced the kind of child abuse that many of us only hear whispered about. Her faith in God kept her connected to her church and community and ultimately she found another home in which to spend her teenage years. That was one of her first remembrances of manifesting her prayers.

“I met my foster mother while going to church,” recalls Diana. “I began to spend time with her family after school, giving me the strength to go home each day. I prayed every night that she could somehow become my mother.” Eventually, her dream came true. “Now,” she says, “I have two mothers who love me.”

Diana is mom to three of her own children, and stepmom to her husband’s four. Butseven children is not nearly enough for her to serve. At least that’s the message Diana got from God when she prayed about how she could help her country and our world after the tragedy of 9/11.

 

Nine Years Earlier...

In 1982, as mother of an 18-month-old, Diana was faced with the need to supplement her husband’s income.

“I didn’t want to leave my son to go to work,” said Diana. “I wanted to be a full-time mom—not having someone else raising him, enjoying those special moments and then telling me about them.”

Her foster mom told her about a program she had seen on TV about a home-based business. Diana turned on the program and watched.

“I was in awe of these women and what they were accomplishing with their lives. What really spoke to me was that they put God first, family second, and career third.” She was intrigued by the opportunity, but concerned about her ability to succeed.

“I thought, how could I ever build this business? I didn’t have the skills. I never even finished college. I didn’t know anything about cosmetics, skin care, developing leaders. I had no confidence in myself. I was very shy and insecure because of my history. Why would anyone want to listen to me?”

Fortunately, Diana didn’t listen to her self-doubts. Instead, she stepped into the strong, resilient spirit that had lifted her from other difficult life situations and started looking for what she could do, rather than focus on what she couldn’t.

“As I looked at network marketing, I saw that it’s about developing other people. I love people. I also learned that when you give to others, more will come back to your own life. I love giving to others. I felt so much compassion for women who were miserable leaving their children to go to work, and then not getting paid what they were worth. I could help these women!”

Diana soon learned the truth of Napoleon Hill’s famous dictum, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” She says, “The most important thing is to believe it. And then take one step at a time.”

 

Rewards of “Go Give”

After five years of “one step at a time,” Diana reaped the rewards of her focused efforts on growing herself and her business. As one of her company’s top three percent, she enjoyed the “go give” spirit of camaraderie and the genuine praise and education she could offer women in her company—even those outside of her own direct financial line.

“The whole spirit of this business was giving back into the lives of others,” says Diana proudly. “When I captured that spirit, that’s when my business really grew. That’s when I became really fulfilled as a woman. And that’s what gave me the ability to feel empowered, to go to therapy to address and heal past issues so I could move forward with renewed energy and be of the highest service.”

Once again, Diana’s ability to manifest was amply proven.

“It was a remarkable experience to feel I could have dreams in life and pursue them to fulfillment,” shares Diana.

Her dreams of helping others now supported by her financial success, Diana and her family began looking for opportunities to serve.

“We would identify people in need, buy Christmas gifts for them anonymously, leave them on their doorsteps and run away!”

Years later, when she met and married her husband Scott, they brought together their two families. With five boys still at home, Diana says, “network marketing was a wonderful training ground. We all learned to start each day with affirmations and positive thoughts, to listen to motivational speakers and read uplifting books.” Scott and Diana wrote down what they wanted to accomplish together, then did it all in three years. The training and education they received through their networking businesses led them to the financial security they needed to allow Diana to retire, build their dream home and look for ways to make a difference in the world.

9/11: Acceleration

The urgency to do so arrived on September 11, 2001. Scott woke her up to tell her the bad news. She broke down and sobbed. Even now, her voice trembles as she remembers the moment.

“When I watched what was happening to our country, my first thought was, ‘How is this going to affect our children—all the children of this world and our future? As a mother, I felt compelled to do something, but I didn’t know what. I fasted and prayed for days, and asked to be shown a way to make a difference in healing our country and the children of this world.”

At first, she and Scott decided to take the money they were going to use to build a teahouse on their property and send it to the victim’s families in New York. Poised to write the check, Diana got a profound feeling to direct her funds elsewhere. But where? She turned to God for her answer, as she had done so many times in her life. The answer came from an unusual place.

Diana “just happened” to catch the last minutes of the Larry King show and heard the tail end of his interview with an Afghan woman.

“With her back to the TV audience, she was describing the horrors of life in Afghanistan. At the possible cost of losing her life, she spoke out against the Taliban and the oppressive situation for women in her country. ‘I wish you could see her beautiful face,’ said Larry King. ‘If you want to help the women and children of Afghanistan, you can learn more at this web site.’ ”

The web site URL was emblazoned in her memory.

“I put my boys to bed and went to that web site. I read story after story of oppressed lives and sobbed. I was upset with myself because I didn’t know about the women and children who had suffered there for so many years.”

She knew that she was now being given the tools to manifest God’s love and a serious opportunity to help. She decided to use the teahouse money to help rebuild a needed hospital.

“I told Scott, not only was I going to write out the donation to them, I was also going to raise millions of dollars for these people to help them.

“Just as with my network marketing business, I had never done anything like this before. I started fundraising without knowing how I would succeed, yet believing with all my heart that I would succeed. My network marketing training was invaluable. I realized that I knew how to put teams together, motivate them, share stories with them, and get them enrolled in a cause.”

That night, Diana went to bed and had a profound dream that still moves her to tears in the retelling:

“I dreamt that thousands of Afghan women in their blue burqas were pounding on my door, pleading with me to help them. I woke up from that dream and literally felt a physical pain in my heart. I knew that for whatever reason, I was to be a part of this work. I gathered many friends and contacted the organization that had brought Larry King’s Afghan guest to America.”

This was the beginning of a community of people who would reach out with their hands and their hearts: the Afghan Academy of Hope (www.aaoh.org)

 

The Afghan Academy of Hope

Diana’s passion for serving these women and children moved her to travel to Afghanistan three times, with her fourth trip scheduled for May 2005.

“I want to be a part of this work, not just writing checks and raising money. To be hands-on, serve them, work with them, know them, bring hope to them.”

Each time Diana traveled to Afghanistan, she went to meet a specific need and once there, discovered another one. She would return home committed to meeting each need. Her first trip focused on education and helping Soraya Hakim to continue her important mission.

“Soraya and her husband had dedicated their home in Kabul to over 700 orphan children, providing them with education, health care and one hot meal a day. She was trying to keep it going on $6000 per year from the US, where she had fled to safety in 1996.

“We took the gifts and financial aid from our generous Santa Barbara community to Soraya’s school. These donations helped to build a second story, and to buy bicycles for the teachers, TVs and VCRs for training, scarves for the girls, clothes and fabrics for the new uniforms and more. We bought everything we could from Afghanistan with our donated monies so that we could support the economy of their country as well.”

Today, Soraya has returned to Afghanistan, “the country she loves with all her heart,” says her lifelong friend, Diana. She now serves as the government’s General Director of all of the Afghan orphanages. After accepting the position, she called Diana and said: “You now have two million orphans to help.”

 

Serving Psychological and Nutritional Needs

On that first trip to support Soraya’s school, Diana witnessed tremendous trauma.

“Who is helping these people deal with 26 years of war? When I got home, my goal was to facilitate therapeutic trauma-reduction work and find a professional photographer to document what was happening.”

Once again, Diana was led to the right people and was able to return with the perfect team for a month. (“It’s amazing how, when you write things down, 90 percent of it happens,” she exclaims. “I’ve experienced this many times in my life.”) Not only did these people do trauma reduction work, but they also taught Afghan women to continue the work and provided stipends to support them in doing so.

“That money was raised by Afghan women in the Bay area,” says Diana lovingly. “The Afghan Academy of Hope is made up of a lot of people cooperating and working together as a community. This is not a one-woman show. There are a lot of people with helping hearts and hands, a community of people in service. I am grateful to fulfill my life by being a part of this great work.”

While on her trip to provide trauma therapy, Diana saw her next opportunity.

“We walked through the kitchen….” She pauses, choking back tears. “It was something out of the holocaust. It took all our strength not to break down in front of the kids and weep. A bombed-out building with no electricity, no water…open fires on the ground were cooking their meager food. The kids were standing up in this dark cafeteria, eating beans with their fingers—with smiles on their faces.”

Once again, Diana was challenged by not knowing how to solve a horrific problem. And once again, her belief, intention and willingness to spread the word and build community prevailed. A friend of a friend who heard her story insisted that she take her tickets to an event where she would have an opportunity to meet Lee Iacocca, chairperson of a humanitarian initiative of a network marketing company.

Diana gave her “three-minute elevator speech” to Iacocca, who then introduced her to key executives in the network marketing company. They allowed her to enroll her Afghan Academy of Hope as a distributor. Diana and her team had great success encouraging people to donate $29.95 each month for 30 meals. In their first four months, their organization purchased 6,000 meals!

 

Acknowledgment

In August of 2004, Diana was invited to speak at a women’s conference about her accomplishments. Of all of the places she could have been invited, it was uncanny that it was in the same locale as Diana’s unspeakable experiences as a child.

At first she hesitated. Then, as always, she called on her support group and mustered up her courage. Her rewards were tears from sharing her heart-warming stories and tears of joy for the surprise bestowed upon her as she received that year’s Ambassador Award.

The greatest gift to her, however, was the realization that came with the experience.

“I was able to speak as a free, empowered woman. I could speak from my heart and from my experience about changing my own life and making a difference in the lives of others. Suffering was my past, not my present or future. Now I am part of God’s hands, doing His work for the women and children of the world.”