By David Wade

NEEDHAM (CBS) — A 9/11 widow from Needham is marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks by continuing her mission to help widows in Afghanistan.

Susan Retik lost her husband, David. He was on Flight 11 when the American Airlines plane was deliberately crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

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In the years that followed, Susan joined forces with Patti Quigley, who also lost her husband on 9/11 to create “Beyond the 11th.” The humanitarian organization helps widows and their children in Afghanistan.

Susan traveled to Afghanistan to witness the struggles and triumphs firsthand back in 2006. “When I looked across Afghanistan, and was learning about how difficult the lives of women in Afghanistan were. I thought ‘if it was so terrible to be a woman, what would it be like to be a widow?’”

The program gives women something necessary for success: a chance.

“We mainly tried to focus, especially in the beginning, on income-generating programs. so that the women can learn a skill or a trade,” Susan said.

Now, 20 years after the terror attack, U.S. troops have left Afghanistan for the first time since the start of the war and the country is back under the rule of the Taliban.

Susan is adamant the work of “Beyond the 11th” will not be undone.

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“There has been improvement in Afghanistan. It’s a very difficult country and it’s not like everything was okay prior to the Taliban takeover. However, there was progress that was made. You can’t un-educate kids,” Susan said.

And the women have made great strides.

“All the women who have been, for the past 20 years, fighting for their rights and women have become journalists. and doctors and lawyers and in government and they’ve used their voice. I don’t think they’re going to back away so easily.”

And Susan’s focus remains the same. She’s ready to raise more money through the “Beyond the Bike” fundraiser. A 3-day, 260-mile journey from Ground Zero in New York City to Boston.

“there’s always this balance between honoring and remembering those that were killed on 9/11 and also why we’re doing it: raising money for Beyond the 11th.”

While this 20th anniversary has Susan reflecting on the past, she says the love of her family will guide her future. All of her kids and her husband will be along for the “Beyond the Bike” ride.

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“We’ve gotten to ride together and train for it. Which has been amazing. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. “

David Wade