A Better Afghanistan…
9th September 2009
Two civilians died yesterday morning and six were injured in a suicide bombing that hit Nato vehicles at the Afghan Airport… hearing the helicopters flying over head in the early hours of this morning and seeing the trail of armed police vehicles driving by today while we sat in the car waiting to turn into the main road, it started to hit home… this is Afghanistan… the many years of unrest and war enduring.
With the news of yesterdays attack, one Afghan woman decided to tell me a story not uncommon to many Afghan families. As a very young girl when the Soviets invaded the country, her family escaped to the north, returning years later when the Taliban were in place. Many of those who left Kabul as children returned with a husband and children of their own. Unable to support a life under the Taliban, some men left for Iran or Pakistan, leaving behind their wives and children in Kabul. For those who stayed, as this one mother did, life was very hard. There was no employment available outside of the home for women, and some days there was no food for the family. Women wove mats in the day and tailored by night, making enough to feed the family. If a woman needed to go out to buy food she would wear the burka (chadori) as did all women at that time.
For this one Afghan woman, her husband eventually returned from Iran and took her and the kids to Pakistan, where like many others, they lived in refugee camps and tried to survive as best they could with little hope of a better Afghanistan.
Once Karzai was placed in power, many returned to Kabul, as did this Afghan family. But the sense of unrest and insecurity remained. For the following few years women continued to wear the burka when out, and for those who didn’t, they risked acid being thrown in to their faces by Taliban supporters. And no-one knew if the Taliban would soon return and who would dare risk an uncertain fate for being ‘unfaithful’. To this day, this fear remains and burkas can still be seen.
With the current unrest, sleepless nights are had by many. Questions surrounding the future of the family, of what they’d do if the past returned, increasingly encroach on their sleep.
My impatience and frustration with slow internet and problems with the computer, are suddenly made obsolete when I listen to the Afghan people share about their lives. One thing striking is their warmness, kindness and openness. The big discussion at the moment is the upcoming Eid – The 3 day Afghan holiday after Ramadan, where families visit each other and eat and share together. I already have two invitations and a promise of a kite flying lesson! These days we see many children in the streets flying their home made kites.
I’m sitting in the rose garden, listening to Hayley Westenra on my MP3 player… looking up at the sky, at the kites breezing by, and dreaming of another Afghanistan, where peace and security are experienced by all.