* A Different Afghan Winter Photo Essay Series

Green

Permaculture: Being Vulnerable with one another and with the Earth’s Feelings

Bamiyan Peace Park: Even the Stones will Speak

Equal

Genderless Bikes in Afghanistan

Afghan Street Kid Mehdi’s Disappearing Dream

Another hard reality about Afghan duvets

Nonviolent

Relationships can heal ‘terrorism’

Ending the war inside and outside us

For Omid, Mursal, Mehdi, and the Afghan Peace Volunteers, this winter in Afghanistan was different from the usual.

“This is the Afghan story, that I’ve been a breadwinner since I was very little,” 19 year old Omid said with perceptible angst. It is a usual story for young Afghans to have prematurely lost one or two parents, and to have to pick themselves up again and again to face the world. “I’ve taken up different kinds of ‘jobs for the poor’ ( ‘gharibi kardum’).”

“But, it still doesn’t quite work out,” Omid looked down in pensive thought. I could only imagine how Omid had tried twice to smuggle himself to Europe, once running away from threatening gunshots.

“I’ve found a flicker of hope this winter, helping with the duvet project, and then learning about the climate, sun, water, soil and food through the permaculture design course.”

15 year old Mehdi had signed up for the course too.

I wish he had stayed throughout the course with Nisar, another street kid, and 42 other Afghan youth. Mehdi told me shyly, “Teacher, I thought someone else had taken my place in the course.” My guess was that his father needed him to find some extra income for the family. It was to make ends meet that Mehdi had to stop schooling last year. Isn’t this especially hard for an industrious, considerate kid who dreams of being a doctor?

Mursal is 13 or 14, and after two years in the Borderfree Street Kids School, she has discovered the activist within her, recently learning to ride the bicycle with the Borderfree Afghan Cycling Club. One day, she approached me and other volunteer teachers, saying, “I want to organize support for street vendors who are hit by the police with their batons.” My soul lit up, recognizing the struggle against such injustices which sparked the Tunisian revolution and ensuing Arab Spring.

Witnessing the energy of these never-say-die stalwarts who are too young to be shouldering responsibilities which adults have shirked, I feel like I’m at the edge of a cliff.

All over the world, we’re grasping this reality: the political, military and economic elite are bringing ‘The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist’s doomsday’s clock of earth and humanity’ to three ‘minutes to midnight’.

That’s why more and more people are autonomously building another world. Like Omid, Mehdi, Mursal and the Afghan Peace Volunteers, they are saying, “#Enough! is #Enough!”

I’ve tried to tell these stories through *six photo essays. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did in putting them together.

They depict the #Enough! GENeration I’m privileged to be working with, tender human beings who wish to nurture Green, Equal and Nonviolent relationships.

They are sick and tired of war, and want to abolish it. They represent the fragile, better sides of our human nature. They are the 99%.

It excites me that they could change everything even if their group ceases to be, because they try to work with ‘root meanings’ and not ‘superficial terms’, and because they’re suggesting a way, and not a thing or a person that can be eliminated or imprisoned.

These green, equal and nonviolent relationships can change our politics, economy, environment and our understanding of safe and secure spaces. They have been changing me by laughing, crying, worrying, healing and shivering with me.

Their love is carrying me through the whole range of emotions which point me to a better world, to who I really am, a human, a fellow human being.

 

Afghan Street Kid Mehdi’s Disappearing Dream

We’re angry for you because we love you

and your dream of becoming a doctor.

You have your rightful doubts

and fatigue,

and you remember shaving the snow shovels

for a Kabul winter that never snowed

on our spinning and warming earth.

You must feel alone sometimes in your family’s spartan room,

whose rent you just couldn’t pay.

Far less could you feed your niece

with the bag of rice provided by the Borderfree Street Kids School.

Believe me, your volunteer teachers are really trying to find some solution…

perhaps a food bank…

or for you to acquire tailoring skills

and learn to save water.

You became friends with Tufan the Pashtun carpenter boy who created the Borderfree frame,

and volunteered with Nisar the Tajik distributing duvets to the poor.

I saw you planting trees with water the government will not provide

and sit next to Kahar who had fled from Helmand,

the internationals forces’ ‘success’ town which has since collapsed ;

Both of you said, clearly and deliberately, “#Enough! War”,

It’s hard enough here…

But you’re strong, Mehdi,

aren’t you?

Aren’t you the one who looked at me,

and taught me to get into the ring,

to heal my anger,

and walk the uncertain road ahead,

whatever comes?

Afghan Street Kid Mehdi’s Disappearing Dream

 01 Mehdi wishes to be a doctor

We’re angry for you because we love you

Mahdi's Wish

and your dream of becoming a doctor.

02 doubts

You have your rightful doubts

03 hard work polishing boots

and fatigue,

04 shaving snow shovel

and you remember shaving the snow shovels

for a Kabul winter that never snowed

05 spinning

on our spinning and warming earth.

06 holding the family together

You must feel alone sometimes in your family’s spartan room,

whose rent you just couldn’t pay.

07 taking care of niece

Far less could you feed your niece

08 getting his monthly bag of rice

with the bag of rice provided by the Borderfree Street Kids School.

09 a banner about the food bank initiative

Believe me, your volunteer teachers are really trying to find some solution…

perhaps a food bank…

10 successfully sewing a dress for Sakina

or for you to acquire tailoring skills

11 a game about saving every drop of water

and learn to save water.

12 with Tufan and other street kids

You became friends with Tufan the Pashtun carpenter boy who created the Borderfree frame,

13 volunteering  in the duvet project

and volunteered with Nisar the Tajik distributing duvets to the poor.

14 watering trees in Kabul Peace Garden

I saw you planting trees with water the government will not provide

and sit next to Kahar who had fled from Helmand,

the internationals forces’ ‘success’ town which has since collapsed ;

15 with Kahar, saying #Enough! War

Both of you said, clearly and deliberately, “#Enough! War”,

16 it's hard enough

It’s hard enough here…

17 polishing boots with Ismael

But you’re strong, Mehdi,

18 strength

aren’t you?

19 understanding

Aren’t you the one who looked at me,

20 in the harsh streets

and taught me to get into the ring,

to heal my anger,

21 whatever comes

and walk the uncertain road ahead,

whatever comes?

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