Tag: The People’s Agreement to Abolish War

All sorts of Afghan Winter Feelings: “I was frightened. I cried.”

“I was frightened. I cried,” she seemed like both a statue and a radio, numb and alive, not shy about the horrors she had survived. “There were bombs dropping from the heavens, and firing from the army, the Taliban, yes, yes, from everyone, from everywhere.” Already like a teenage mother to her younger siblings who huddled around her, she insisted, “We had to run, to escape Kunduz.” Do we really expect her to have stayed put, to not seek refuge from weapons the powers produce? “And now? We eat little scraps found on the streets. See? We burn plastic.” A few unwashed glasses were in a corner, and also Nasriya, their latest sibling, gazing at her refugee world from a hanging baby cot, no nursery rhymes, no birthday candles, no photo albums. Sadly, such stories are not news these days, not ‘attractive’ enough for viewers, though it ought to be […]

Despite 2017 odds, my Afghan friends and I hope for healing

The blurred background atmosphere behind Mansoor’s silhouette seemed to want to drive itself into our lungs. The Afghan Ministry of Public Health estimates that in Kabul alone, 3000 people die from air pollution-related illnesses in one year. I could hardly make out the two pedestrians 70 metres away, at about 10 a.m. on a Kabul morning During particularly stressful moments in 2016, I had felt that the year was one long, hard Afghan night. A few evenings ago, my eyes had smarted from the dense irritant pollutants that enshroud Kabul streets and invade breaths and dreams in winter. Mansoor, determined to do well in his college entrance exams next year, laughed sarcastically at the burnt air which smelled of soot and survival scraps, holding his hand to his mouth and nose as a mask, saying, “Of course our lives are shortened by this smoke.” At least, someone had told me, […]

To Touch a Colourful Afghanistan

Visually impaired student, Sonia, read her article about peace: “Everyone wishes for peace to come to all of Afghanistan.” Last year, on the 21st of September, the International Day of Peace, the Afghan Peace Volunteers and Borderfree Street Kids reached out to 100 Afghan labourers, cooking and serving them a meal. To follow-up, microloans were given to five of the labourers to start their own small street businesses. This year, the Afghan Peace Volunteers and Borderfree Street Kids reached out to the visually impaired and blind students at Rayaab (Rehabilitation Services for the Blind Afghanistan ). They brought MP3 players as gifts to 50 visually impaired students. The students will use the MP3 players to listen to recorded school lessons and educational programs. Rayaab is an Afghan non-governmental organization run by Mr Mahdi Salami and his wife Banafsha, who are themselves visually impaired. The Afghan Peace Volunteers and Rayaab began […]

Kabul River and Standing Rock Sioux

Kabul River and Standing Rock Sioux Zekerullah sometimes worries about the water crisis in his country   Government officials and business people today routinely negotiate, “We’d like to extract the oil.” Or gas, or such and such a mineral. Water? “Oh don’t worry, we’ll see to that too….” But they’re not angels, and their bottom line is profit, so, Nature and human beings have a problem having enough to drink, and to survive, not just along Kabul River, but also along the Missouri and Mississippi of the Standing Rock Sioux. They craft the ‘legal’ rules of the industry, and embellish their plans with ‘democracy, or development, or rights’. They enjoy impunity, unless, together, we speak up, and ‘vandalize’ the ‘norms’, beginning with the habits of our minds.   Our 27-meter-deep well dried up recently   With the groundwater level across the world dropping, we had expected the well of our […]

An Afghan Outing and River Heals Us

This was not a typical festive ‘first world’ outing, as its need and idea arose not from leisure, but from trauma. Recently, Hadisa was broken after an ‘endless’ night of crouching nervously in the dark of her University dormitory, while bomb blasts and gunshots were ending precious lives only a hair’s breath away. Nemat, in a safe space which softened Hadisa’s distress, remembered looking at a heavily-breathing comatose father in a bare Afghan government hospital ward with no monitoring devices. I was well aware of Nemat’s questions over his own undiagnosed lower limb weakness and limp, when he asked me in resigned desperation, “Do you think I should transfer him to another hospital?” Ali, listening to and comforting Hadisa, had also just lost a loved one too, his older brother, Sultan. Sultan was killed by at least four bullets.  The Afghan Peace Volunteer community agreed unanimously, “Let’s go for a […]

Beyond Afghan and Human Ethnicities

Watch Shy Bismillah Finds Friends from 34 Afghan Provinces   From top left clockwise: Pashtun – Barath, Tajik – Malik, Uzbek – Habib, Hazara – Nemat, Afghans – All, Human Family Members – All “1948?” Habib remarked at how long it had taken for the human family to agree in writing that “all human beings ( including himself, Barath, Malik, Habib and Nemat ) are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. This ability to see beyond ‘my tribe’ was not practiced by those who killed Habib’s father, nor by any of us who has the impression that “They are an inherently bad, immoral, lazy, silly and troublesome people.” Awakening to a DNA consciousness, I can look beyond ‘me’ and ‘they’ to ‘we’. If they are bad, we are bad too. From left to right : Uzbek, Pashtun, Hazara and Tajik classmates of a government school in Kabul We […]

Friends despite Afghan War Ruins

‘Darul Aman’, was supposed to mean ‘Abode of Peace’, but it became a charred caricature of Man’s repetitive use of bullets, rockets, tanks, bombs and ancient fire to secure money, and seize power. Here, King Amanullah and Queen Soraya dreamt of a ‘modern’ Afghanistan, not knowing that almost a century later, Tufan, Su’ood, Amir, Nemat, Matin and Nisar  came to record its wounds and ask, “What abode? Where’s the peace?” Their strong heart-beats constantly grasp for a measure of calm, in a colonized city of shattered pulse and vista. Confronted with an intractable present,  they ask a universal question, “What can we do?” Imagine a new direction, and without winking, venture a leap! But how can reconciliation begin if the old hasn’t healed, if there aren’t hands to hold values other than weapons? Not someone else’s hand. Our hands. It’s hard for Nisar to describe life under the 24-hour, million-dollar […]

The Energy and Angst of Four Afghan Street Kids

  I took a chance in asking them to jump and shout and wow! I was electrified. Their arms, legs and faces released energy, as if they were astronauts breaking free from a difficult Earth. “What? Jump? Why?” They were skeptical but eager, and soon the yard rang with laughter and surprise. One, two, three… Their hesitance choked on a few breaths, then, they took off, bursting all over the place beyond their young vulnerable selves. Farzad’s hundred worries, already nesting in his keen eyebrows, were teased out of his chest, slung above his knees by a scarf, and flung like rockets. Towards the sky. Matin’s father could have been released from prison if he had paid a bribe. “I have to work… He’s ‘gone’ for another year and a half.” It was a road traffic accident that replaced their family’s poverty with desperate destitution. When asked about what he […]

#Enough! Let’s Be Friends

#Enough! Let’s Be Friends   sharing food, water, shelter, greenery, healing, reconciliation, happiness and stories with one another I am you. You are we. Relate! Relate! Relate! Relate! It’s a Re-mergency! Connect. It’s critical. Connect people, connect the dots.   Dear friends in our human family, With your support, over the past one year, we have found 908 friends from 67 countries. Please continue to help us find friends from every country in the world. In Kabul, we are bringing together multi-ethnic Afghan youth from all 34 provinces in Afghanistan, to join Earth GEN (Green, Equal and Nonviolent) in celebrating the International Day of Peace on the 21st of September 2016. “I’m Hadisa Gowhari, a student at the American University            in Afghanistan and also a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. I always fear I could die in the streets here…” Relationships motivate us, so when you share resources with […]

War and Love Letters from Dr Adele Kubein to the Afghan Peace Volunteers

Dr Adele Kubein works at Oregon State University in Corvallis, USA and in the letters below over the past three years, she becomes vulnerable with the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, expressing her love with tears.   Dr Adele Kubein, in the terminal stages of lung cancer, wearing the Borderfree Blue Scarf, with #Enough! and peace written on her palm. From the Afghan Peace Volunteers, “Thank you, Dr Adele!”   Letter on 11th October, 2012 I hope others are listening. It is so hard for Americans to care in the midst of such plenty. Many of us think of you and cry for you, but not only tears we shed, we cry out for you as well. Letter on 1st May, 2013 As always, I cry when I see the faces of the youth around you. I have written you before. I am the mother of a woman-soldier who was […]