Bay Area nonprofit 'Roots of Peace' raises funds for school destroyed by Taliban

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- Pakistan's prime minister is vowing to strengthen his country's military offensive against the Taliban after an attack at a school left 141 people dead. Nearly all of them were students.

The Taliban says it was in retaliation for the killings of militant members by Pakistani authorities.

Expressions of outrage to those killings were voiced from people around the world and right here in the Bay Area. Just hours after learning of the terrorist attack, the founder of the nonprofit "Roots of Peace" felt the call to turn her grief into action.

Children covered in blood, faces wrought with shock, horror, and grief; it's a grief shared by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and North Bay mother Heidi Kuhn.

"My family and I are heartbroken after hearing the news," Malala said.

Kuhn added, "My heart was broken as a mother."

The San Rafael resident founded the non-profit Roots of Peace. Her team works in conflict zones around the world to provide education and agricultural advancements.

"Our children deserve to walk in peace," Kuhn said. "Our children around the world deserves better."

VIDEO: Pakistani military says 141 dead in Taliban attack


She considers Tuesday not just a day of deep mourning, but a day of reflection and action.

Ten years ago, with ABC7 News anchor Cheryl Jennings, Roots of Peace raised 50 million pennies to build schools in Afghanistan.

In light of the atrocity in Peshawar, Kuhn wants to renew the effort.

"It would be my dream to raise even more pennies," she said.

This time the money would rebuild the public army school that was attacked.

"Let us join together to plant the roots of peace on earth, let us begin by rebuilding the school in Peshawar so that future generations of children may be educated and live in peace," Kuhn said.

Ahmad Siar served as an interpreter for U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan. He witnessed the brutality of the Taliban firsthand.

"I grew up as Muslim, I never learned anything that they do over there," he said. "You k now, killing of children, killing women, killing innocent people, this is not Islam. This not in our religion."

Siar joined Roots of Peace after moving to the United States on a special visa.

No one can bring back the 141 lives lost in Peshawar, but Siar believes future attacks can be avoided.

"The key for stopping terror is education, is economy," he said. "We have to build economy, we have to get people educated."

If you'd like to contribute to the Roots of Peace effort to rebuild the school, click here.

You can also show your support for the campaign by using hashtag #ChildrenDeservePeace on Twitter.
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