On Eve of Pope's Visit, Citizen Activists Urge Obama to Heed Pontiff

(based on Max Obuszewski’s summary, Sept. 23, 2015)

Just prior to the historic visit of Pope Francis, NCNR activists gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. Amidst heavy security, speakers raised issues about Islamophobia, nuclear weaponry, extraction and consumption of fossil fuels, global inequality, corporate control of governments, climate chaos, killer drone strikes and other abusive actions in which the U.S. government is complicit. During the White House rally some twenty-five of the citizen activists went to the visitor’s entrance to the White House to seek a meeting. After their request for a meeting was rebuffed, many of them sat down in solidarity with the world’s suffering. While sitting there, they noticed many people, including members of the media, did get through to the White House. Since people were entering through this gate, some of the activists got in line. Again they were rebuffed, and eventually fifteen of them were arrested.


by Dr Hakim
21st September 2015
Kabul, Afghanistan

16 years ago, a Talib (literally translated, a student) shot and killed Zarghuna’s father.

Zarghuna and her family were frantically fleeing a desperate situation. The same holds true for more than 60 million refugees in today’s ‘progressive’ world.

If you’re like me, you may think, “Oh, how messy is Zarghuna’s part of the world.”

“How terrible are the Taliban!”, and perhaps even, “We should imprison or eliminate them.”

But, Zarghuna thinks differently…

Afghan kids serving food: at the Borderfree Center in KabulAfghan kids serving food: at the Borderfree Center in Kabul

Predators, Near and Far

Fatima in her mud house compound, with Ali, an Afghan Peace Volunteer teacher who helped Fatima get a proper medical assessment: photo credit- Dr HakimFatima in her mud house compound, with Ali, an Afghan Peace Volunteer teacher who helped Fatima get a proper medical assessment: photo credit- Dr Hakim

Jamila met the Afghan Peace Volunteers when Hadisa and Abdulhai visited her home in April this year as part of a survey designed to identify children who could participate in the Street Kids School. When Ali, a volunteer teacher at the Street Kids School, learned about Fatima’s illness, he introduced Jamila to Hakim, the mentor for the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Hakim is a medical doctor from Singapore. Since 2004, when he first began working in Afghanistan, Hakim has recognized that the country’s health care system is riddled by pervasively corrupt practices. Appalled by the massive doses of antibiotics prescribed for Fatima, Hakim recommended a stool sample analysis which could be done through the lab of a local hospital. The lab report showed that Fatima no longer needed the antibiotics, that her medical condition was normal.

The medical system in Afghanistan failed to help Jamila and Fatima. Lack of oversight allowed corrupt doctors and pharmacists to over-prescribe antibiotics, and Jamila had nowhere to turn for a second opinion or for any assistance. Greedy predators, purportedly delivering health care, have steadily taken money from desperate people, like Jamila, in payment for useless or even murderous treatments.

A question from Afghanistan

“Can we abolish war?”

By Dr Hakim

Hadisa, a bright 18 year old Afghan girl, ranks as the top student in her 12th grade class. “The question is,” she wondered, “are human beings capable of abolishing war?”

Like Hadisa, I had my doubts about whether human nature could have the capacity to abolish war. For years, I had presumed that war is sometimes necessary to control ‘terrorists’, and based on that presumption, it didn’t make sense to abolish it. Yet my heart went out to Hadisa when I imagined her in a future riddled with intractable violence.

Hadisa tilted her head slightly in deep thought. She listened attentively to different opinions voiced by fellow Afghan Peace Volunteers. She struggles to find answers.

But when Hadisa turns up at the Borderfree Afghan Street Kids School every Friday to teach the child breadwinners, now numbering 100 in morning and afternoon classes, she lays aside her doubts.

I can see her apply her inner compassion which rises way above the war that is still raging in Afghanistan.

Hadisa, like 99% of human beings, and the more than 60 million refugees fleeing from military and economic wars, usually chooses peaceful, constructive action rather than violence.

Hadisa Says #Enough! WarHadisa Says #Enough! War

“Dear students,“ Hadisa says, “In this school, we wish to build a world without war for you.”

Which Side Are We On?

Kabul—Here at the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ Borderfree Center, between morning and afternoon Street Kids School sessions, I asked several of the volunteer teachers how they felt about organizing the school and teaching weekly language, math and nonviolence classes.

“Now we have 100 students,” Zekerullah said. “I feel happy because I see how they change after spending time here.” When he first met some of the children, all of whom work on the streets as child laborers, ideas of washing up, dressing for school, bringing completed homework to classes, and being part of a community that cares deeply about them might have seemed remote or even unimaginable. Many who live in refugee camps get caught up in wild behavior, and hard work on the streets further toughens them.

The children seem exuberantly happy during the Friday classes. They care for and respect each other. And their eyes light up when they see their teachers, all of whom are students in secondary schools or Universities in Kabul.

“Many of the children come from one room, mud homes inside refugee camps,” said Hamida. “They have no safe place to store their notebooks and school supplies. But still they try hard to prepare for classes.”

The Question Foremost

By Cathy Breen

The question foremost in my own mind is: What about the responsibility of the United States who unleashed this war on Iraq, a war based on self-interest and lies? A war without end that has unleashed unspeakable terror in the whole region!

Afghan Girl, Sakina, Buries Toy Gun and Says…

by Dr Hakim

Ten-year-old Sakina, an Afghan street kid, had this to say, “I don’t like to be in a world of war. I like to be in a world of peace.”

On 27th August 2015, Sakina and Inam, with fellow Afghan street kids and the Afghan Peace Volunteers, held a mock funeral for weapons and celebrated the establishment of a green space in Kabul.

Dressed in long black coats, they broke and buried toy guns in a small spot where, over the past two years, they have been planting trees.

Sakina breaks a toy gun before burying it. Inam and other street kids await their turn.

Inam, a bright-eyed ten year old, caught the group’s energetic desire to build a world without war. “I kept toy guns till about three years ago,” he acknowledged with a smile.

Sakina breaks a toy gunSakina breaks a toy gun

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