Monthly Archives: May 2011

Falling down…

Here in Kabul the weather is getting hotter and the frequency and seriousness of the security warnings are increasing. However, a security incident was not the cause of the loud bang in the office building today. One of the ceilings (well, more accurately a layer of plaster and concrete sufficient to dent furniture) came crashing down. Similar things have happened to us and friends and it seems that with flat concrete roofs and snow, water damage occurs in winter and spring, and then as the weather heats up, the concrete dries out and collapses. Perhaps, going shopping in the city or to a restaurant (which we are currently advised against doing) would be safer than hanging out in our houses!

I have rejoined Hagar, this time as director, after a two year absence. Our Afghan colleagues have come a long way in the past two years under the previous leader. You can see they have been truly impacted by walking beside people who have suffered terrible trauma, and it is so encouraging to see them committed to doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes to restore a broken life.

In a country where men take great pride in their honour and feel the need to defend it at all costs; where women can only bring shame (or at best bring no shame); it is unsurprising that honour killings still occur and domestic violence is common. For a young woman, to be accused of bringing shame is far worse than a ceiling falling down. It means rejection from family, home and society.

As Hagar is working on some research into the vulnerable groups in this country, it is obvious there are not enough resources for women and girls who cannot go home, because of the threat of violence against them. Who are these women?

Shukria was imprisoned on murder charges after her husband was killed. The family agreed it wasn’t her who had committed this crime until the day, she refused to become the second wife of her husband’s brother. She does not eagerly await her release, as she has nowhere to go.

This is not a society where women can just go and rent an apartment or easily find a job, even without the stigma these women carry. And so Hagar will begin a transitional care centre for them. Not to keep them safe and institutionalized, but to help them recover and learn skills they and then assist them to be re-integrated into society with economic security. It is a huge task but Hagar is committed and courageous.

Personally, it is great to be involved in something so needed and in an organization where staff are passionate about what they are doing. Change in Afghanistan may come slowly but we will continue together, to push boundaries, so even the women and children from the toughest backgrounds, can live full lives again.

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