Afghan Peace Volunteers
Mother Miriam and Habib
by Maya Evans
We are sitting on the floor in a simple outhouse room attached to the Afghan Peace Volunteer’s compound, the unheated space is normally used for teaching local children various classes. Habib and his mother Mariam sit in front of us motionless, Mariam wears the burqa so it is not possible to read her face and ascertain how she might be feeling, the tentative expression on Habib’s face tells us that their life is hard.
Shortly after noon on the day of his funeral, I talked about Ron and his life and death with my friend Ali, one of the young Afghan Peace Volunteers whose hospitality I’ve been enjoying in Kabul this winter. Sensing my sadness, Ali listened intently. When I finally finished, he looked at me and said, “You rest. The rest of the day is free for you.” Within an hour, Ali’s concerns had found their way to the rest of the young men in our small community. Zekerullah came to our shared bedroom and lit a fire. “It’s cold in here,” was all he said. Each one of these unbelievable young men came to the room and shared his condolences for a man he’d never met.
Read the original blog at Our Journey to Smile.
Torpekai and Zarghuna arrive in Delhi, India: Torpekai is wearing the Borderfree Blue Scarf
Hakim : Torpekai, where have you arrived at?
Torpekai : Delhi.
Hakim : How do you feel?
Torpekai : I feel good.
Hakim : Zarghuna? Was it a good flight?
Zarghuna : Yes, we’ve arrived safely. I feel that every place of the world has a home for human beings.
Hey, so these, you know, concerns about this dramatically shocking increasing malnutrition rate, something that for instance, I’m reading this blog from Kathy Kelly, it would take 5 cents to subsidize iodized salt for one child for one year. You know the entire 4-year funding of the World Food Programme and the Global Alliance would, I mean it’d be nothing compared to what we pay to keep a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. Can you talk about the problem and the shocking figures?
by Ewa Jasiewicz
I’ve been in Kabul a week now, living in the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteer (APV) house on the border of District 3. The area is a mish-mash of wealthy mirror-windowed mansions fronted by surly gun-on-the-lap security guards, crumbling mudhuts, open sewers, children in ragged clothes warming themselves on burning rubbish, a fake McDonalds and Subway with directly lifted logos, and Kabul’s sole waterpark, for men only and 500 Afghanis a dip.
Dr. King in Dari
This month, from Atlanta, GA, the King Center announced its “Choose Nonviolence” campaign, a call on people to incorporate the symbolism of bell-ringing into their Martin Luther King Holiday observance, as a means of showing their commitment to Dr. King’s value of nonviolence in resolving terrible issues of inequality, discrimination and poverty here at home. The call was heard in Kabul, Afghanistan.
On the same day they learned of the King Center’s call, the young members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, in a home I was sharing with them in Kabul, were grieving the fresh news of seven Afghan children and their mother, killed in the night during a U.S. aerial attack - part of a battle in the Siahgird district of the Parwan province. The outrage, grief, loss and pain felt in Siahgird were echoed, horribly, in other parts of Afghanistan during a very violent week.
In 2002, Najib, about 12 years old, already had the ‘profile’ of what some of us, particularly political and religious elites, may consider the ‘enemy’: orphaned, poor, Afghan, Pashtun, Muslim, and from Kandahar, the supposed heartland of the Taliban.
Najib befriended me on the streets of Quetta, Pakistan, where he collected trash to find bread.
If he was alive today, 23, Fighting-Age Male, he may very well be on Obama’s kill list.
Kathy Kelly with Safar, an Afghan “street child”
Kabul, Afghanistan is “home” to hundreds of thousands of children who have no home. Many of them live in squalid refugee camps with families that have been displaced by violence and war. Bereft of any income in a city already burdened by high rates of unemployment, families struggle to survive without adequate shelter, clothing, food or fuel. Winter is especially hard for refugee families. Survival sometimes means sending their children to work on the streets, as vendors, where they often become vulnerable to well organized gangs that lure them into drug and other criminal rings.
(Transcribed by Nicole Heiden)
I think that there are forces, and I don’t know to whom we would best ascribe this, but there are forces within Afghanistan that want to prolong the war, that want to prolong the fighting. They’re making in one way or another a profit that they wouldn’t be able to make without the war, and I think as long as there is a justification being made for keeping United States and NATO troops in Afghanistan then there is a better possibility for US and NATO forces to eventually bring enough security for the development of a pipeline and of various roadways in order to control the pricing and flow of resources, that would be extracted from Afghanistan… they also now found in terms of mining deposits, and estimated 1 trillion dollars’ worth of copper, gold, and iron ore, and 1.4 million metric tons of what are called rare earth elements, R.E.Es. Those are the elements that are used for cellphones and computers, and whoever can control… those resources will have a huge advantage over the countries that are wanting to buy those resources; so we could think of China and Russia which are immediate neighbors to Afghanistan, as being places where there would be a desire to consume those resources. The US would like to make sure that they can’t get those resources at cheaper prices than what the US would pay.
Quite honestly 93% of the world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan, and the education system is terribly corrupt, healthcare delivery is very very poor, such that one out of every 11 women dies in childbirth. Rights for women are so bad that in 1,670 registered incidents of violence against women, only 7% of the cases even went through the judicial process, and 1 million children are suffering from acute malnourishment in southern Afghanistan… in Afghanistan the United States has tried to market the war there by saying that the troops are needed in order to protect the rights of women and children, but how can you have one million children suffering from acute malnourishment in the very area where there’s a huge concentration of U.S. troops, in Helmand and Kandahar, and talk about the rights of children being protected?