Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Sky as It Falls

by KATHY KELLY

Kabul.

For the Afghan Peace Volunteers, living in a working class area of Kabul’s “Karte Seh” district, daily problem-solving requires a triage process.

Last week, upon arrival, I looked at the sagging ceilings over the kitchen, living room and entryway and felt certain that shifting to new living quarters should be the top priority. The following evening, tremors caused by a small local earthquake sent me running out of the house to interrupt a game of volleyball all the others were playing, but cooler heads prevailed and the game continued – what else was there to do? I stayed outside to watch. Later, we talked about the inevitable need to make a move away from our dangerous dwelling and do it soon, so now the daily schedule includes scouring the neighborhood for a new home with comparable space and rent.

Some daily problems are predictable. For example, Ali knows he is behind many other students in the Kabul secondary school he attends, because back in Bamiyan, where he grew up, he’d had limited opportunities to learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. On mornings in the APV house, he struggles to make sense of notes he has carefully recorded in class. Early this morning, he was sitting in the yard carefully writing and rewriting a sentence describing the function of the present continuous tense in English, preparing for an English exam later that day. He and I spent some time writing English sentences in the present and present continuous tenses, and then he taught me how to do the same in Dari. Some problems at least have simple solutions.

Abdulhai wants the best for his widowed mother. Like almost every other Afghan family, Abdulhai has experienced deep personal loss, the loss of his father to war. I remember one late evening in Kabul some months ago when he confided in me and Hakim about the difficult memories of fleeing away from the fighting through the snowy mountains of Bamiyan province where his simple and honest family resides.

Shedding some tears, he said, “I wish I could buy my mother a good pair of shoes. “Abdulhai has a growing commitment to working among fellow Afghan peers and youth to understand and practice non-violence. In 2011, his picture was selected by Fellowship of Reconciliation USA to be featured on the big board at Times Square in New York. It was a poster of Abdulhai on his favorite hills behind his village, with these words reflecting his heart, “I wish to live without wars.”

The small community here listens to its members’ problems – very much including the needs of their loved ones – and tries hard to sort out cooperative ways to help them respond. Each member of the community comes from a home grappling with problems attendant on economic destitution. Aided by small contributions from peace activists abroad, they creatively “troubleshoot” ways to keep their project going.

Meanwhile, they are doing their best to address social problems in the struggling neighborhood around them. This week, after several delays, a workshop for seamstresses has been set up right here in our living quarters.  Each morning, eight women, both Pashto and Hazara, come to learn tailoring skills.  The Afghan Women’s Fund assisted the group by buying eight sewing machines along with fabric, thread, scissors and patterns. With the help of a neighbor who is an accomplished seamstress herself and is willing to teach others to sew for a nominal salary, the women will learn tailoring skills and earn desperately needed income.

Today, we sat with a mother whose child comes to the after school tutoring program Afghan Peace Volunteers launched three months ago.  Her husband struggles with an addiction to opium. By collecting laundry from homes near hers and washing the clothing from morning till night, she earns the equivalent of $3 per day.  Hakim asked whether her husband might be able to help earn income, but she said she is afraid to let him out of the house for fear that he’ll be drawn back to drug usage.  Two of the APVs vouched for an impressive program we have visited which has helped people overcome their addictions.  Some of the people who were helped by the program now run a small restaurant in our neighborhood.  Before she left, a meeting was arranged between the young mother and the woman who founded and coordinates this program.

I’m privileged to watch young and vulnerable practitioners of peacemaking risk their own safety to advocate for those even less safe. And poverty, which descends from war, which engenders war, equals danger as surely as war does. It’s the ceiling of a collapsing room. Here in Kabul, it’s so much harder to escape the connectedness of what Dr. King called the “evil triplets” of poverty, discrimination, and war.

Last summer, in Mexico, a movement arose which aims to bring together people suffering the ravages of multiple wars, encouraging them to pour out their grief together and demand needed social change.  The “Caravan of Solace,” led by renowned Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, traveled across Mexico several times, reaching many thousands of people in a country where 50,000 people have been killed by drug violence since 2007. The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity insists that militarized solutions will not work.

Now the same organizers will be traveling across the United States as the Caravan for Peace, calling for an end to drug wars and military wars.  They will proceed along a multistate route culminating in Washington, D.C. on the 11th of September 2012.

The Afghan Peace Volunteers, who have paid close attention to the Caravan of Solace, were very pleased to speak with one of the main organizers by phone last summer.  Now, their hopes are raised quite high because Caravan for Peace organizers, in coordination with Global Exchange, recently invited them to participate in the caravan during the final ten days of travel across the U.S.

Abdulhai and Ali await an August 5th interview at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul; their opportunity to join the Caravan for Peace and to contribute their perspective to discussions along the route rests on whether consular officials will approve their request for a visa.  You can register your support for them in this process by going to http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6382

They would be accompanied by their mentor, Singaporean born Dr. Wee Teck Young, whom we call Hakim.

The U.S. Embassy will want assurance that they will return to Afghanistan, that they won’t seek to escape a collapsing roof in a country where it often seems as though the weight of poverty, warfare and discrimination could threaten future collapse.  But Ali, Abdulhai and the APVs have realized that they have good work they can do here and now, building on several years of activity developing the Afghan Peace Volunteers.  As with many of us, sometimes the work involves setting our own houses in order (and there’s always more order we can set them in) and often it involves small actions we can take to help one another.  Joining the Caravan for Peace would be a big step for the APVs, giving them a chance to feel solidarity with people from Mexico and across the U.S. who support Afghan Peace Volunteers in their clear and simple message:  “We want to live without wars.”

Kathy Kelly  co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She’s a contributed a chapter on drone warfare to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press), now available in Kindle format.

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org  This article was first published on Telesur English.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail