Afghan Peace Volunteers
by Mary Dobbing
Peace Centre Seminar: photo from VCNV UK
Javid asked: “Do you think Afghanistan is singled out as a playground for other countries to wage war in? Were we singled out?”
Jennifer Gibson (Reprieve) said that Afghanistan is a country where wars can be waged without any accountability. ISAF, with UN’s permission, have been carrying out this long war without any accountability. What worries Jennifer is that unaccountable war has happened in Afghanistan for thirteen years and is now being exported. This lack of accountability is now being exported to Iraq and Syria.
by Henrietta Cullinan
…after a good sleep, the bright yellow light streaming across the carpeted floor, I soon grow accustomed to our inside life. In the day I pick up sound cues, the neighbour’s ringtone, the neighbour’s children. I can hear the thud of a football against the wall and scuffling feet in sandals. I distinguish the street cries from the muezzin. The silent gap between our garden wall and the next building is the Kabul river bed…
by Maya Evans
Tutoring program for street kids: photo by Maya Evans
…the last year at the border free centre is her first experience of education; she says learning is important to her, and when she’s older she’d like to become a teacher and help people. I want to know more about Gul Jamma, but can sense a deep sadness which I feel is not my place to disturb. I ask her about toys, her only doll. She says her doll has black hair and wears a scarf but doesn’t help with housework…
by Patrick Kennelly
2014 marks the deadliest year in Afghanistan for civilians, fighters, and foreigners. The situation has reached a new low as the myth of the Afghan state continues. Thirteen years into America’s longest war, the international community argues that Afghanistan is growing stronger, despite nearly all indicators suggesting otherwise. Most recently, the central government failed (again) to conduct fair and organized elections or demonstrate their sovereignty. Instead, John Kerry flew into the country and arranged new national leadership. The cameras rolled and a unity government was declared. Foreign leaders meeting in London decided on new aid packages and financing for the nascent ‘unity government.’ Within days, the United Nations helped broker a deal to keep foreign forces in the country, while simultaneously President Obama declared the war was ending—even as he increased the number of troops on the ground. In Afghanistan, President Ghani dissolved the cabinet and many people are speculating the 2015 parliamentary elections will be postponed.
These heavy quilts, stuffed with wool, can make the difference between life and death during Kabul’s extremely harsh winters. For the past two winters, the APVs have relied on women in their local area to manufacture thousands of duvets which are then distributed free of charge. The women are paid a living wage for their labor.
Duvets are heavy blankets, stuffed with wool, which can make the difference between life and death during Kabul’s extremely harsh winters. The Afghan Peace Volunteers coordinated manufacture and distribution of three thousand duvets, at no cost to recipients, during the winter of 2013-14. Along with bringing needed warmth to destitute families, the project invited people from different walks of life to work together.
—“I woke up with the blast of another bomb explosion this morning,” Imadullah told me. “I wonder how many people were killed.” Imadullah, an 18 year old Afghan Peace Volunteer, (APV), from Badakhshan, had joined me at the APVs’ Borderfree Community Centre of Nonviolence.
The news reported that at least three Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in the suicide bomb attack, in the area of Darulaman. Coincidentally, the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs) had planned to be at the Darulaman Palace that same morning. To commemorate Gandhi’s birthday and the International Day of Nonviolence, we wanted to form a human circle of peace at the Palace, which is a war ruin.
Six of the Afghan Peace Volunteers went to Delhi for an International Youth Camp on Nonviolence. They also visited and stayed at the Gandhian ashram called Ekta Parishad. Read the photo-journal here.
World Peace Gong: New Delhi
Zekerullah going to school in BamiyanZekerullah tells me that the current education system in Afghanistan is not a good learning environment. His story alerts educators, officials and the international community to understand that the relatively small funds spent in badly-constructed new school buildings isn’t sufficient to provide a good education for the young Afghan population. Moreover, the predominantly militarized approach of aid and development, even in the field of education, reinforces the prevalent methods of teaching by force and punishment. Guns of armies, like rattan canes, aren’t helpful either for Zekerullah or for Afghan teachers.
I have been reflecting quite a bit about “privilege” on many levels since my arrival 12 days ago. We talk about “simple living” in the United States but even those who have chosen to live more closely to the poor typically have continual access to electricity, refrigeration, running water, laundromats and frequently washers and dryers in our own homes. Virtually all have stoves and TVs and most have some sort of transportation—cars, bicycles, or a pass on Muni or BART.