Zekerullah 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.
I was just called to the downstairs phone in our house. A woman from Baghdad crying out in Arabic, Please help us, please help us! Explosions! Explosions! I couldn’t make out much more and felt totally helpless to know how to respond, not to mention how inept I am in Arabic. So often in the last months this has been the case. Telephone calls from Turkey, from Lebanon, from Iraq….from relatives of Iraqis in the states, in Canada. Can you help us? Sometimes I don’t have it in me to answer the phone. We have friends within Iraq who are being targeted, who live in open vulnerable areas, who contact us to ask if we can find a country that will take them and their families? Tragically, we [the US] have made all Iraqis the “enemy” and, despite our contacts, we have not yet been able to find countries that will grant them visas, or offer them resettlement.
We hope to get this site cleaned up as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.