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Afghan Peace Volunteers

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Kabul on a Key Meter


by Ewa Jasiewicz

I’ve been in Kabul a week now, living in the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteer (APV) house on the border of District 3. The area is a mish-mash of wealthy mirror-windowed mansions fronted by surly gun-on-the-lap security guards, crumbling mudhuts, open sewers, children in ragged clothes warming themselves on burning rubbish, a fake McDonalds and Subway with directly lifted logos, and Kabul’s sole waterpark, for men only and 500 Afghanis a dip.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Dr. King in DariDr. King in Dari

This month, from Atlanta, GA, the King Center announced its “Choose Nonviolence” campaign, a call on people to incorporate the symbolism of bell-ringing into their Martin Luther King Holiday observance, as a means of showing their commitment to Dr. King’s value of nonviolence in resolving terrible issues of inequality, discrimination and poverty here at home. The call was heard in Kabul, Afghanistan.

On the same day they learned of the King Center’s call, the young members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, in a home I was sharing with them in Kabul, were grieving the fresh news of seven Afghan children and their mother, killed in the night during a U.S. aerial attack - part of a battle in the Siahgird district of the Parwan province. The outrage, grief, loss and pain felt in Siahgird were echoed, horribly, in other parts of Afghanistan during a very violent week.

Who Is My Enemy?

In 2002, Najib, about 12 years old, already had the ‘profile’ of what some of us, particularly political and religious elites, may consider the ‘enemy’: orphaned, poor, Afghan, Pashtun, Muslim, and from Kandahar, the supposed heartland of the Taliban.

Najib befriended me on the streets of Quetta, Pakistan, where he collected trash to find bread.

If he was alive today, 23, Fighting-Age Male, he may very well be on Obama’s kill list.

Afghan Street Children Beg for Change

Kathy Kelly with Safar, an Afghan “street child”Kathy Kelly with Safar, an Afghan “street child”

Kabul, Afghanistan is “home” to hundreds of thousands of children who have no home. Many of them live in squalid refugee camps with families that have been displaced by violence and war. Bereft of any income in a city already burdened by high rates of unemployment, families struggle to survive without adequate shelter, clothing, food or fuel. Winter is especially hard for refugee families. Survival sometimes means sending their children to work on the streets, as vendors, where they often become vulnerable to well organized gangs that lure them into drug and other criminal rings.

Kathy Kelly Discusses Afghanistan

(Transcribed by Nicole Heiden)

I think that there are forces, and I don’t know to whom we would best ascribe this, but there are forces within Afghanistan that want to prolong the war, that want to prolong the fighting. They’re making in one way or another a profit that they wouldn’t be able to make without the war, and I think as long as there is a justification being made for keeping United States and NATO troops in Afghanistan then there is a better possibility for US and NATO forces to eventually bring enough security for the development of a pipeline and of various roadways in order to control the pricing and flow of resources, that would be extracted from Afghanistan… they also now found in terms of mining deposits, and estimated 1 trillion dollars’ worth of copper, gold, and iron ore, and 1.4 million metric tons of what are called rare earth elements, R.E.Es. Those are the elements that are used for cellphones and computers, and whoever can control… those resources will have a huge advantage over the countries that are wanting to buy those resources; so we could think of China and Russia which are immediate neighbors to Afghanistan, as being places where there would be a desire to consume those resources. The US would like to make sure that they can’t get those resources at cheaper prices than what the US would pay.

Kathy Kelly on Gorilla Radio, Victoria, BC

Quite honestly 93% of the world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan, and the education system is terribly corrupt, healthcare delivery is very very poor, such that one out of every 11 women dies in childbirth. Rights for women are so bad that in 1,670 registered incidents of violence against women, only 7% of the cases even went through the judicial process, and 1 million children are suffering from acute malnourishment in southern Afghanistan… in Afghanistan the United States has tried to market the war there by saying that the troops are needed in order to protect the rights of women and children, but how can you have one million children suffering from acute malnourishment in the very area where there’s a huge concentration of U.S. troops, in Helmand and Kandahar, and talk about the rights of children being protected?

APVs Launch Avaaz Petition

Salam! We are the Afghan Peace Volunteers, a nonviolent multi-ethnic community working for peace in our war-stricken country. We wish to hear 2 Million Voices breaking the silence of the 2 Million loved ones Afghans have lost to war.

Zukoom, middle, killed in a suicide bombingZukoom, middle, killed in a suicide bombing

Every morning in Kabul, like yourselves, we wake up to the same old noise. The same old rich getting louder and the poor remaining unfed and unheard. The same old firing of weapons and use of brute force to defend thieves and warlords, both local and foreign. The same old suffocating of Mother Earth, as her desertified land fills with trash and grey fumes. We the people of Afghanistan, like yourselves all over the world, are hurting.

Because we find hope and healing in friendship, we’d like to hear 2 Million of your Voices remembering our 2 Million loved ones lost to wars.

Sign the petition.

Open Our Eyes

By: Hakim & Sherif

Sherif and I in Cairo, 2006Sherif and I in Cairo, 2006

While catching up with one another over the challenges facing ordinary Afghans and Egyptians, Sherif Sameer and I talked about how ‘opening our eyes’ could go a long way to building a better world. We decided to co-write this piece, from Ismailia, Egypt and Kabul, Afghanistan.

At least 13 Afghan Civilians Were Killed

by Hakim (Dr. Teck Young Wee, mentor for the Afghan Peace Volunteers)

The Two Became UsThe Two Became Us

The daily struggles of ordinary people against elite-driven injustices hovered in the mud-walled room, like a scent.

I was swept up by voices both personal and familial.

War had not become less cruel with time…

Arctic 30: Freeing our old ideas of relationships!

by Hakim (Dr. Teck Young Wee) mentor for the Afghan Peace Volunteers

November 28, 2013

Writing from Afghanistan, recently ranked by Australia’s University of Queensland as the most ‘depressed’ county in the world, I understand that the ideas and experiences of happiness are varied and elusive.

Even in one of the poorest countries of the world, where 84 percent of households are multi-dimensionally poor, T.V. adverts and consumer culture persuade us that an i-phone is more valuable than a tree.