A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘Afghan Youth Peace Initiative’

International Peace Day Continued:Become One of 2 Million Friends

Last week many of you celebrated  International Peace Day. Below is a great opportunity to continue the work and the celebration. The members of Afghan Youth Peace Initiative, the boys I visited in Afghanistan, have created a new campaign for peace. They are trying to create “two million” friends to mark the roughly two million civilians who have been killed in civil conflicts and the U.S. invasion.

This act is simple and yet it helps to create a global network that says: “We believe that all people have the right to live in peace.”

Be One of ‘2 Million Friends’! for peace in Afghanistan

Join the ‘2 Million Friends’ Campaign.

 

Farzana, 22 year old Afghan stage actress, and a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, said, “When I express the whole range of emotions on stage, I enter an awareness, and a thrilling consciousness of human reality. I have a pain and my husband and fellow Afghan citizens, men and women, share the pain with me. It is the pain of being treated as less than humans. We are human beings. We have wishes. War has brought this pain on us. War kills our joy and hides our tears.”

Farzana calls out to our compassionate imagination, “Instead of fight, talk and build, I suggest, ‘Be friends, talk and build!’”

Listen to Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers say in this video clip “Be One of 2 Million Friends!”

 Why ‘2 Million Friends’?

2 million Afghan victims of war were killed over the past four decades. We wish to remember them by finding 2 million friends, to call for a ceasefire in Afghanistan. More friends! No more war. No more killing.

Help Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers find those friends : Visit http://2millionfriends.org

1. Be a Friend!

(a)     Email “ I’m One of 2 Million Friends!” to befriends@2millionfriends.org

(b)     Communicate : Email, Facebook and Twitter

(c)      Listen : Global Days of Listening conversations with Afghans & people from conflict areas

(d)     Upload photos and video clips of friendship

2.  Help them find 2 million friends: Email, Facebook and Tweet this far and wide to all your friends!

3. Support their call for a ceasefire : Sign a letter to the U.N. for a ceasefire  

The letterwill be ‘presented’ to the U.N. office in Kabul on the International Day of Human Rights, December 10th, 2012.

4.  Host or join concurrent, solidarity events on Dec 10th, 2012

An event will be held in Kabul on December 10th , 2012and attended by ordinary Afghans and Afghan civil society groups, Dr Sima Samar ( Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission ), Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire and others.

You can host or join concurrent, solidarity events on December 10th , 2012in your own communities and countries, to remember the 2 million Afghan victims of war in various ways e.g. releasing doves, flying kites, displaying banners, lighting candles etc.,

5. Consider participating in Dec 2012 visit to Afghanistan or a fast in New York

We remember them: the Kandahar killing spree

I am haunted this week by the Kandahar killing spree. I keep thinking of the young men I met through the Afghan Youth Peace Initiative, some as young as 12, and I wonder what if they were one of the 16? What if one of those brave young men working for peace in Afghanistan had been dragged from their bed at 3 a.m. and shot in the head?

I am haunted by this soldier. After his third tour and traumatic brain injury he believed he would be sent to Hawaii for a desk job, instead he was sent to the most unstable area in yet another war zone. What had happened to him that the only option left was to shoot men, women and children in the middle of the night and then light their bodies on fire?

I am haunted by Leon Panetta who bluntly told the press, “war is hell,”  and to expect that this type of tragedy would happen again.

I am haunted by the story we keep telling ourselves that in this war there are “good” deaths and “bad” deaths as if the loss of any human life fits into such cheap categories.

I am haunted and yet I know that peace, justice and healing find their roots in what haunts us, what disturbs us and what will not allow us to say death and suffering and horror are what we should expect. So I borrow from the traditions of healing I have been taught in Colombia. Another war zone, another place where too often death is treated as a normalized outcome of “war.”

The Colombians have taught me the power of memory and how in honoring those who have suffered, those who have died, you hold open the space for what can be – for what we do not yet see but refuse to ever relinquish our hope for…

So as a way to honor memory and pray for hope I offer this prayer for all those who have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and all the places of war around the world…

Leader: In the rising of the sun and in its going down,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the glowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the blueness of sky and in the warmth of summer,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the beginning of the year and when it ends,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we are weary and in need of strength,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we are lost and sick at heart,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we have joys we yearn to share,

All: We remember them. So long as we live, they too shall live,

For they are now a part of us, as we remember them.

From Prayers for Life, Edited By: Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon

The Journey to Smile

Afghan Youth in India

Below is an update from Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Initiative I travelled with last March in Afghanistan. The boys have made a trip to India and continue to explore what it means to build peace in this world. Catch up on their journey with note and link from Hakim below.

 

 

Dear friends,

The last photo-essay update of our India trip is available at http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/2012/01/what-would-gandhi-say-to-afghan-youth-today/

Love,

Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

Thanks to all who made this trip to India possible!

1.     South Asia Peace Alliance http:// http://southasiapeacealliance.weebly.com/

Thanks to Vijay and Rita of South Asia Peace Alliance for inviting, hosting and teaching us!

2.     Ekta Parishad  http://ektaparishad.com/

The team at Bhopal : Aneesh, Lilly, Vinod, Rakesh who organized our field visits in Bhopal

The team in Delhi : Muntajan, Paul, Kathrin and Fran who made our stay in Delhi, Bhopal and India so colourful

3.     Kathy Kelly ( Voices for Creative Non-violence USA http://vcnv.org/ ) and Maya Evans ( Justice not Vengeance UK http://www.j-n-v.org/ )

4.     The Oasis Program facilitators and participants, including teachers and students of Gandhinagar International School

There are no expectations in our crying…

Dear All – So good to see so many of you at the Chapter of Chats! A wonderful space for connecting, sharing stories and dreaming of a future shaped and held by justice and compassion. In light of the spirit of Chats I wanted to share an update from The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. Please see below and blessings on your summers!

Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

Peace from Afghanistan, specially to those with the Caravan of Solace

far-away in Mexico, who strengthen us with their poetic struggle.

From Afghanistan, we need you to know : Walking together is not a

weakness. It is our everything.

We thank you for walking differently.

Julian LeBaron, a Caravan of Solace leader whose brother was

kidnapped, tortured and killed last year, reminded the crowd that fear

isn’t the only thing keeping people home — it’s apathy: ‘There should

be 100 million people here, holding hands to mourn the death of 40,000

of us.”

If you have a few minutes this Sunday 19th of June, let’s connect on

the Global Days of Listening ( email to the cc-ed address

globaldaysoflistening@gmail.com )

Love,

Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

http://ourjourneytosmile.com

http://globaldaysoflistening.org/

From Afghanistan, we need you to know

Javier Sicilia, Julian Lebaron and all with the Caravan of Solace,

like you and the families of 40,000 Mexican victims, we need you to

know that we’ve also been crying.

There are no expectations in our crying.

There’s only grief, and ignored anger, the ignored anger of the mundane masses.

To all fellow humans alive today, we need you to know that many people

are hurting badly because we will not do more than what is normally

required to preserve our conventional ways of life.

We need you to know that the many who are hurting are real people.

Sadly, every day that we defend our lives as usual, we demean other

lives as usual, and therefore we all become less dignified, less

human.

We in Afghanistan have been learning that being alive is not just

about busily earning our keep, or more ridiculous, about getting good

grades in ‘empty’ schools.

We have also been learning what it means to be alive.

Here, the other Friday, we felt alive when we walked together to the

river, listening to everything.

We felt alive caring for one another despite our utter despair.

Unfortunately.

Our systems have been structured to rule us out, to corner our

humanity. Our systems despise our hope.

The doorways of our governments are tunnels for theft.

To conform with Power, we’re ‘told’ that we must remain helpless, friendless.

Our poverty is ‘graced’ by bullets, bombs and blood.

Our struggle is ‘condemned’ by religious and political dogma.

We detest these from way deep down. We detest these so much. Every soul does.

But today, self-protection at the expense of the distant ‘other’

justifies a strategy of ‘Man killing Man for Greed’s sake.’

How can that be?

How can it be that ‘the common good’ is no longer ‘good’, that it has

become an impractical ideal divorced from human society?

How can it be that asking for economic fairness is considered being

anti-government, that speaking against corruption gets us into

trouble?

How can it be that when we tell our leaders to stop killing, we are

the ones deemed naïve and dangerous?

We detest this violent antagonism infecting the world.

We detest the decay of our values.

We’re creating so few lifetime opportunities for genuine education,

decent livelihoods, and grief.

Not enough space, except by the rivers.

We need to talk differently, walk differently, serve ( lead )

differently and relate differently, and if we so earnestly and

painstaking act in love, ‘Y’ not?

Who has dictated to the ‘Y’ generation that,’ You can never change

this unequal, unkind global system of governance.’?

‘Y’ not when the majority of humanity and the majority of 30 million

Afghan citizens manage to get along without killing one another?

‘Y’ not step towards the rivers where human solidarity runs?

How can we live without crying? How can we suggest what could be done

when we ourselves are hardly coping?

We need you to know that your journey is our journey too, and that

yes, ‘No estas solo’.

We need you to know that crying is our friend, and not a weakness.

We need you to know that walking together is not a weakness. It is our

everything.

Finding Hope in Afghanistan

Last week Liz blogged about her travel to Afghanistan as part of a delegation of U.S citizens who are accompanying  the Afghan Youth Peace Initiative through a week of activities to build peace. She is there now and we are sharing updates from Liz and others who are with her.

Guest blog entry: Jake Olzen (he writes from Kabul, Afghanistan).

Finding Hope in Afghanistan, March 20, 2011

In a country torn by thirty years of war where the promise of peace is continually broken, despair and resignation seem to be the norm for Afghan society.  War – and its corollaries of social decay, poverty, corruption, and trauma – does not discriminate.  Not a family in Afghanistan has been left unaffected by the death or disappearance of a loved one and the daily, traumatizing stress of living in an occupied war zone.  Billions of aid intended for reconstruction has been siphoned off leaving little left over for meaningful, local development.  Afghanistan is an unstable society wracked by corruption at nearly every level of government and a pervasive distrust of strangers and neighbors alike is the expectant result of such disintegration of social ties.  But as the late Studs Terkel reminds us, “hope dies last.”  And this is certainly true for the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, a small but growing group of young Afghans committed to a life of peace in the midst of so much violence.  While cynicism and disbelief  run deep across generations, the AYPVs have an alternative vision for their country embedded deep in their hearts – and they believe this hope for peace is already in the heart of every Afghan.


Hope in the Afghan Spring

Fifty-five young saplings mark the beginning of a new year in Afghanistan.   The various apple, apricot, and almond trees were planted in a Kabul elementary and high school as a sign of hope and promise of peace.  Organized by the AYPVs, twenty-five international partners joined together with over fifty ordinary Afghans to declare a commitment to an Afghanistan without war.  The previous day, the AYPVS along with members of the Open Society organized and participated in an inter-ethnic walk for an end to the war.  As far as anyone can tell, this is the first public gathering calling for peace in Afghanistan that is not politically aligned or sponsored.  The bright blue scarves of the AYPVs, their smiles and words of gratitude to the accompanying riot police, and banners denouncing warmongering is a considerable different message that most Kabulis are not used to seeing or hearing.  The steadfast commitment to nonviolence of the AYPVs and their deep desire for peace offers a kind of hope that is unheard of in Afghanistan but it also offers a breath of fresh air.  Slowly but surely the AYPVs and their partners – both Afghan and international – are growing into a sizable community with a peace-filled vision for Afghanistan.  The planting of trees is a small gesture indeed and the challenges for ending the foreign occupation of Afghanistan, confronting corruption and human rights abuses (particularly of women), and promoting a culture of peace are many.  But the planting of trees is a beginning and it may very well be the birth of a movement that transforms Afghanistan.

Jake Olzen is a member of the White Rose Community in Chicago, Il.  He can be reached at jake.olzen@gmail.com.

 

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