Afghan father and son displaced by war living on the outskirts of Kabul: Photo- Jerica Arents
By Buddy Bell
October 30, 2012
On October 24, two days before Eid, an opinion piece published in the elite US journal Foreign Policy extolled the fact that US forces are winning in Afghanistan, adding, “Why doesn’t the media notice?” In the article, the author suggests that Taliban forces are so decimated and demoralized that they have been resigned to orchestrating “sensational attacks to give the perception [their] narrative is winning out and to reassure [their] followers.”
Eid is traditionally a time to visit family and friends, and in Afghanistan it often extends into 5 or 6 days as millions of people relish this chance to reunite with folks who they care about. At the apartment of the Afghan Peace Volunteers where I am staying, we hosted many visitors over these days, including some kids from the tutoring class that usually meets at the APV apartment in the afternoons after the regular school day is done.
Children at Charahi, Qambar refugee campOctober 30, 2012
“Mirwais, son of Hayatullah Haideri. He was 1½ years old and had just started to learn how to walk, holding unsteadily to the poles of the family tent before flopping onto the frozen razorbacks of the muddy floor.
“Abdul Hadi, son of Abdul Ghani. He was not even a year old and was already trying to stand, although his father said that during those last few days he seemed more shaky than normal.
“Naghma and Nazia, the twin daughters of Musa Jan. They were only 3 months old and just starting to roll over.
“Ismail, the son of Juma Gul. ‘He was never warm in his entire life,’ Mr. Gul said. ‘Not once.’
“It was a short life, 30 days long.”
October 22, 2012
“I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.” - William Butler Yeats
Haroon has recurring dreams. Haroon whose father was killed when he was a boy and who remembers a gnawing hunger during the long winter in every year of his childhood. At night, he dreams that someone drops him from a great height. He freefalls through the air, crashes to hard ground, and dies. During the day, he dreams of relief from the anger and confusion that pursue him, and of being a photographer, a traveler.
Children who have never had a chance to dream
Faiz, who lost his parents when he was a boy, and whose brother was shot and killed in front of him, has nightmares, too. Each night at the Afghan Peace Volunteer (APV) House here in Kabul, as he sleeps against the wall a few feet away, his moans and cries wake me. By day, he dreams of being a journalist, of marrying and raising a family, of a world without borders and war.
October 7, 2012
Buddy speaks about Afghanistan
When I was in Afghanistan with Kathy Kelly in June of this year, we met with a woman who, during the 90s, had seen her young daughter legally abducted, married, and within one year, killed by a Taliban official.
Now if you’re saturated day in and day out with Western media, such as the Chicago Tribune, you might assume that this woman was happy the U.S. troops have come to rescue people like her from suffering the same experience.
So I decided to ask her: what does she think about this idea that with the U.S. soldiers in the country, their presence is bringing some measure of security for Afghans, especially women?
Her prompt response to me was: “What good are they [bringing]? They’re the ones killing the people!”
by David Smith-Ferri
October 7, 2012
October 7, 2012, Kabul, Afghanistan. At 5:15 a.m., the main street outside the Afghan Peace Volunteer’s (APV) apartment is quiet, and the first weak rays of gray light filter down through dusty, polluted air. In the distance, the hulking brown mountains circling the Kabuli plain emerge ominously from darkness. After yesterday’s dust storm, a thin brown film covers everything: windows, the shop stall roofs where children fly kites in the evening, bicycle seats, burlap sacks protecting fruit and vegetable displays, doorknobs, throats, the leaves of trees. Early bicyclists and pedestrians make their way. A man pushes a wheelbarrow, and a black horse pulls a hooded rider and an empty wooden cart. Twenty minutes later, the first street vendors appear, blowing on their hands in the cold, and seating themselves on stools. They sit directly across from our apartment, and lift handfuls of thick, peeled carrots out of 40 kg. sacks. Hunched over, they grate the carrots into two rising, orange pyramids. All day, among the pervasive grays and browns and blacks of this neighborhood, these mounds of carrots are sunrise and sunset on the main drag.
That is how the day that marked the start of the twelfth year of the US-led military occupation of Afghanistan began in our cramped corner of Kabul. It ended with a two and a half hour skype phone conversation between young Afghans and a group of young American veterans of the war in Afghanistan. In between, it consisted of interviews with young Afghan men about the effects of war, their expectations for the future, their hopes.Ali studying. “We in Afghanistan haven’t seen a lot of love. We have seen a lot of violence,” he says.
by David Smith-Ferri
October 8, 2012
Here in Afghanistan, survival – physical, cultural, and psychosocial – is a pressing and inescapable reality, a day-to-day struggle against odds for many people, especially as the harsh Afghan winter arrives, and necessary preparations for it are compromised by poverty, violence, and displacement. Women and children are at the front lines of the struggle.
Every morning, at the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ (APVs) home in western Kabul, sixteen women come to a tailoring class where they learn a valuable skill and dream of forming a sewing cooperative. Most of these women are mothers, coping with care of children and a household. Everyday, like their counterparts throughout Afghanistan, they struggle to feed and clothe their children, to support them in school, to obtain timely health care for them, to shepherd them into adulthood. In a country with thirty-six percent unemployment and widespread poverty, the dangers to women and children are real. In a country where one in eleven women die in childbirth, where psychological trauma from violence and the threat of violence is the norm, where the child mortality rate is among the world’s highest, and acute malnutrition is a shameless and silent thief robbing mothers of their children and robbing children of their minds and bodies, the dangers are clear and present.
October 12, 2012
The Afghan Victim Memorial For links to each entry
Noor Muhammed’s 7-10 family members, 3 children injured and Din Muhammed, 70, injured
Sardar Muhammad Makai
Bilal Gulam Rasul
Kaled Gulam Rasul
Wares Gulam Rasul
Samin Gulam Rasul
Said Mir-Said Jan
Said Mir-Said Mir
September 21, 2012
On this International Day of Peace I am sitting in Kabul, Afghanistan with a handful of youth that want nothing but peaceful coexistence in their lives. This in some respects is like a dream because their entire lives have been surrounded by war, death, corruption, and struggle. Peace has been in short supply. For three years the Afghan Peace Volunteers have worked to develop friendships across ethnic lines in Kabul and various provinces throughout Afghanistan. The work has been difficult, trust is hard to come by in this war torn land, but they are adamant that non-violence is the only way forward. I have sat with similar groups in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, America and Israel. Rarely are their voices heard over the drums of war.
Date: September 16, 2012
Place: Alingar District, Laghman Province
Circumstances: A NATO airstrike killed eight women, according to an Agence France Press report. Eight more were wounded. The women were said to have been out on the mountain collecting firewood.
NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: NATO’s U.S. led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) initially said it had called in an air strike against about 45 insurgents in Laghman “after positively identifying hostile intent” and that “a large number of the insurgents” were killed. Later, Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the ISAF international forces, said ISAF had been made aware of “possible ISAF-caused civilian casualties” numbering five to eight, extending its sincerest condolences over the “tragic loss of life”. (BBC)
…and I said to the judge, it’s very clear that a crime was being committed last April 15th at Whiteman Air Force Base, but it isn’t we people who tried to make a petition to their government. It was that the trespass, you know the crime was trespass, but it’s the trespass of the drones from Whiteman Air Force Base into the airspace of Pakistan, into Afghanistan, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and this trespass is not a benign peaceful people bringing, bringing a piece of paper, a petition, to a government official, but the trespassing that is going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan is done, is lethal, is accompanied by 500-pound bombs and hellfire missiles…