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

Posts tagged ‘Kabul’

Guest post: Love Letters from Kabul

Love letters from Kabul – a fairer life for all

Letters from an Afghan boy, an Afghan girl & a Singaporean doctor

Dear friends and fellow human beings,

1st November, 2012 ( Gregorian calendar )

11th Aqrab, 1391 ( Afghan calendar )

Like yourself, Abdulhai, Samia and I live in a world that is not well. There are growing inequalities and angry conflicts, and the air in Kabul is getting increasingly polluted.

Are the three of us well?

“I’m 16 years old. I want to be happy, but when I see how human beings ignore or treat one another, I feel alone,” says Abdulhai (pictured below), who carries an inner burden created by the loss of his father.

photo of Abdulhai, a 16 year old boy

Samia (pictured below),“I’m 13 years old and I want to learn to read and write. I also want to help my family have enough food at home…it isn’t easy to feel hungry.”

Photo of Samia

And I’m a 43 year old Singaporean physician whose name is Young and whose given Afghan nickname is Hakim. Afghan friends, like Abdulhai and Samia, have changed my life over the past 10 years, as I learn with them about meeting basic needs and improving livelihoods. I thought I was educated, until I peered beyond orphan boy Najib’s tearful eyes, and saw our modern world making children cry from hopelessness.

The three of us thought that we’ll write letters to you as friends and fellow human beings, with me as the translator-scribe, to tell you stories of our lives in 21st century Afghanistan.

We have no political or religious affiliation or aims, and we’re not looking for funds. We are ordinary people, warts and all.

We’re a little nervous about being vulnerable with you, so we’ll have to fall back on the shared hope that all human beings want to love and be loved, and long to be free.

Love letters from Kabul – a fairer life for all

Please join us.

http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/2012/11/love-letters-from-kabul-a-fairer-life-for-all/

http://www.2millionfriends.org/apps/blog

Love,

Abdulhai, Samia and Hakim

NB Before our first letter next week, please take time to see the late Rachel Corrie speak of the shared hope of a fairer life for all when she was 11 years old, in this video clip “I’m here because I care” . In 2003, Rachel was crushed by an Israel Defense Forces armored bulldozer in Rafah, West Bank, when she stood to block the demolition of Palestinian homes. We’re privileged to know Rachel’s parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie.

Abdulhai, Samia and I will try to pen our sentiments weekly or fortnightly under the following letter headings….

Our letter on basic needs

Our letter on a fairer education

Our letter on fairer livelihoods

Our letter on family

Our letter on friends

Our letter on a fairer community

Our letter on a fairer world

Our letter on safety

Our letter on fairer thoughts

Our letter on emotions

Our letter on deeper emotions

Our letter on fairer beliefs

Our letter on fairer money

Our letter on fairer power

Our letter on fairer hopes

Our letter on fairer dignities

Our letter on love

End

Celebrating Nauroz in Kabul

 Guest blogger Patrick Kennelly, writing from Kabul, Afghanistan (continuing our posts from Afghanistan as Liz Deligio travels this week with Voices for Creative Nonviolence).

Throughout Afghanistan people are gathering to celebrate the Afghan new year, Nauroz (March 21, 2011). It is a chance for Afghans to celebrate the rebirth of nature after the long winter. In Kabul, today thousands of gathered in the cemetery and spent the day picnicking. Before heading home to share a meal that included seven items to symbolize their hope for the coming year: wheat for rebirth, a sweet pudding for affluence, garlic for health, apples for beauty, berries representing the sunrise, vinegar for patience, coins for prosperity. After 13 days the wheat will be collected and tossed into flowing water, by which time it will have collected the family’s bad luck for the year.

Afghans gather during New Year celebration
While some Afghan’s describe the situation in their country as bad luck, the majority of Afghans realize that there is a direct correlation with the increased number of American and foreign fighters entering the country. Currently, there are more foreign troops in Afghanistan than at any time since the American led invasion and the security situation is at the worst point since the beginning of the war.  While nearly all Afghan’s do not want to see the return of the Taliban, they do not want the status quo of violence caused by the International Security Assistance Force and the armed opposition groups to continue. Instead Afghans are realizing that the underlying problems of their country are the problems of poverty, hate, and violence.  They are also realizing that these are problems that cannot be solved by war.

The streets of Afghanistan

 
In Kabul, a group of young people are adopting strategies that would help solve Afghanistan’s problems and allow them to see their wishes from Nauroz come to fruition.  They have consciously chosen methods that are exemplary in applying theoretical nonviolence to actively resist the indignity of violence and seek out life sustaining alternatives. For example, under the tutelage of professional journalist a group of young men and women in their twenties launched a campaign of public speeches, declarations, and photography by young journalist to manifest Afghan’s desire for peace.
On another occasion the group gathered nearly one hundred people, primarily school children and elders, to plant fruit  and nut trees at a school in Kabul. The trees will help clean the air of Kabul that is polluted from decades of war. The trees will produce nutritious food. The tree planting was preceded by a forum on the importance of creating educational opportunities. The action demonstrates the point of Gandhian nonviolence that from the seed grows the fruit or in other words that nonviolence has to begin with education and be integrated into daily living. 
While these feats are exceptional considering the situation in Afghanistan, if Afghans are going to get their Nauroz wish the international community will need to begin following these Afghans example and integrate nonviolent strategies into their lives and foreign policy. This will begin by working to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan.

 

Patrick Kennelly is the Associate Director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking and is participating in the peacemaking efforts organized by the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  He writes from Kabul, Afghanistan and can be contacted at kennellyp@gmail.com.

Photos courtesy of Patrick Kennelly

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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