Christmas in Afghanistan

A few days ago, I wrote this nice blog about how I like Christmas here. None of that has changed but yesterday, as mourners participated in the remembrance known as the Day of Ashura (or 10thof Muharram), many were killed.  Children have been left without fathers, including two girls who attend our kids’ school.

Streets are decorated for Muharram

I feel so sad today, so not like celebrating anything.  Today is a day of grief and sadness.  There will be families for whom this time of year will never be the same.  We have personally known so many now who have died in this country, local and expatriate and today I question will it ever stop. When will people be able to mourn/celebrate in peace and safety? But here is what I wrote before I felt so sad…

I like Christmas in this country. In our home country of New Zealand, there are crazy numbers of end of school and end of year functions, as well as Christmas hype.  There is so much commercialism and pressure, that it seems like the object is to survive the Christmas season. 

Here in Afghanistan, the only pressure to shop and consume comes directly from our children and they don’t have the constant “You need one of these…” type advertising in their faces.  Here the object is to make Christmas special and memorable in some way. It does take some effort and some time, and we often have little reserves of energy and time, but the investment is always rewarding.  I can always remember who we spent Christmas day with and what was special, who we gathered with to sing carols and what we learnt about how other cultures/sub-cultures remember the birth of their Lord.  How different families relate the stories around Christmas to their children and what items on their trees are symbolic or special in some way.

As winter closes in, I am reminded of how special it is to live in the northern hemisphere where Christmas lights in our houses actually have time to be enjoyed before children go off to bed, while remembering happily that the Christmas break should at some point always include the beach and some tennis (neither of which we get here!).

As this year comes to an end, I am looking back and thinking of the hard things for our families at home and those we know or have known here in this country, and yet, acknowledging that God has plans that He can bring to pass through hard times.  I pray for the ability of Hagar to impact more lives in this country, that women and children who have suffered so much will find wholeness and fulfillment in the year to come and that we can play a small part in this transformation.  As our accountant recently said, “Many organizations work to make a small difference to many lives but I want to part of something that makes huge differences in the lives of the people we assist”.

This Christmas I invite you to put some light in to the lives of women and children who have suffered in darkness and isolation.


Posted on December 7, 2011, in Reflections. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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