Day 4 of Peace Vigil at Bamiyan Peace Park 2009

Ali and Zekerullah on Day 4 of the ‘Peace Vigil’ in Bamiyan Peace Park in 2009

* 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.

Bamiyan Peace Park: Even the Stones will Speak

As today’s mainstream media and conventional historical record has no mind of its own except corporatized profit and power, I choose to use the ‘voice’ of stones, the stones around Bamiyan Peace Park, established in 2009 with the help of the youth of Bamiyan, some of whom became core members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

When the Governor of Bamiyan, Dr Sarobi, inaugurated the Bamiyan Peace Park in October 2009, she told a ‘deaf’ press, “Firstly, I want to appreciate and thank all the volunteer youth who with their own hands, have turned a place of stone into a park of beauty. Unfortunately, through years of war and conflict, we’ve lost some values. We’ve lost self-sufficiency and self-belief. Everyone waits for a foreign NGO to place a stone or brick before doing anything. If we work together, we can do a lot. Building this Peace Park is an example that if we set our own goals and not wait on others, we can build our own country and not be dependent on others.”

On Nao Roz ( New Day or New Year’s Day P) the 21st of March 2016, 14 Afghan Peace Volunteers picked up the shovels and pickaxes to plant 33 evergreen trees in the Park. Part of the signage of the Park, which had been vandalized many times, and whose peace dove sculpture had been completely ‘yanked away’, was replaced with two pieces of marble stone on its ‘front’ and ‘back’. The marble stones had these Dari calligraphic words inscribed on them.

“Why not love?

Why not bring peace”

“Even a little of our love is stronger than the war of the worlds.”

This Park was built with the help of the people of Bamiyan and the Afghan Peace Volunteers

We need to raise our voices, even through the non-living natural world of stones, so we can remain true to love and life.

The stones believed in us even before the soil came.

It was initially a place only of rocks and gravel

that had in ancient times smelt the incense of pilgrims journeying from afar

to see the cliff-hanging Bamiyan Buddhas.

The same stones felt the vibrations of the hoofs

of Genghis Khan’s vengeful calvary

as they decimated the City of Noise ( Gholghola )

the noise of screams from throats slaughtered by the sword.

Even the stones believed in us,

because they detest the blood that gets splattered on them by violence,

the same violence that resides in the numbed, bullet-trained hearts

of the Taliban and U.S./NATO forces alike,

the violence that solves problems by getting rid of other human beings.

“You won’t be able to build a park,” Bamiyan’s Governor had advised.

“If it is already deemed impossible, then no harm will come from letting us try…,” we responded.

We were ‘crazy’ with a vision

in the midst of a war the whole world appeared to want a hand in.

An Afghan innkeeper sent some agricultural soil then,

the same way the city municipality offered us manure this year.

We planted trees. And this time, evergreen trees.

We imagined life where there was no life,

digging, shoveling,

holding a vigil to deliver our reconciliatory message to President Obama,

“…..We need to explore human relationships and non-violent options like we pursue science…

….Mankind cannot build relations with weapons…”

The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, and the Governor visited us;

we’ve learnt very well that we cannot wait for politicians.

We invited people to drink tea with us

as the invisible seeds waited for their time.

Next to one another, we broke ethnic barriers

and flew kites in solidarity with Gazans and today, against drones.

We understood that our work

was a partnership with future forests,

and though we were young

and could only paint our convictions,

we finally called upon a marble stone,

to carve a witness to what drove us,

“Even a little of our love is stronger than the wars of the world.”

It was good they let us try love,

for love is the miracle,

the liberation and the unstoppable space!

Bamiyan Peace Park: Even the Stones will Speak

As today’s mainstream media and conventional historical record has no mind of its own except corporatized profit and power, I choose to use the ‘voice’ of stones, the stones around Bamiyan Peace Park, established in 2009 with the help of the youth of Bamiyan, some of whom became core members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

When the Governor of Bamiyan, Dr Sarobi, inaugurated the Bamiyan Peace Park in October 2009, she told a ‘deaf’ press, “Firstly, I want to appreciate and thank all the volunteer youth who with their own hands, have turned a place of stone into a park of beauty. Unfortunately, through years of war and conflict, we’ve lost some values. We’ve lost self-sufficiency and self-belief. Everyone waits for a foreign NGO to place a stone or brick before doing anything. If we work together, we can do a lot. Building this Peace Park is an example that if we set our own goals and not wait on others, we can build our own country and not be dependent on others.”

On Nao Roz ( New Day or New Year’s Day P) the 21st of March 2016, 14 Afghan Peace Volunteers picked up the shovels and pickaxes to plant 33 evergreen trees in the Park. Part of the signage of the Park, which had been vandalized many times, and whose peace dove sculpture had been completely ‘yanked away’, was replaced with two pieces of marble stone on its ‘front’ and ‘back’. The marble stones had these Dari calligraphic words inscribed on them.

“Why not love?

Why not bring peace”

“Even a little of our love is stronger than the war of the worlds.”

This Park was built with the help of the people of Bamiyan and the Afghan Peace Volunteers

We need to raise our voices, even through the non-living natural world of stones, so we can remain true to love and life.

 

01 green begginings of 2009

The stones believed in us even before the soil came.

01a the stones of 2008

It was initially a place only of rocks and gravel

01b Lala in front of the small Bamiyan Buddha, also destroyed by the Taliban 2016

that had in ancient times smelt the incense of pilgrims journeying from afar

to see the cliff-hanging Bamiyan Buddhas.

01c City of Noise  in the background 2016

The same stones felt the vibrations of the hoofs

of Genghis Khan’s vengeful calvary

as they decimated the City of Noise ( Gholghola )

the noise of screams from throats slaughtered by the sword.

01d bare entrance in 2009

Even the stones believed in us,

because they detest the blood that gets splattered on them by violence,

the same violence that resides in the numbed, bullet-trained hearts

of the Taliban and U.S./NATO forces alike,

the violence that solves problems by getting rid of other human beings.

01e entrance lined by trees in 2016

“You won’t be able to build a park,” Bamiyan’s Governor had advised.

“If it is already deemed impossible, then no harm will come from letting us try…,” we responded.

We were ‘crazy’ with a vision

in the midst of a war the whole world appeared to want a hand in.

02 there was a need for soil 2008

02a soil mounds before leveling 2008

An Afghan innkeeper sent some agricultural soil then,

02b manure from the city municipality 2016

the same way the city municipality offered us manure this year.

04 the first groundbreaking 2009

04a adding trees in 2016

04b evergreen trees planted in March 2016

We planted trees. And this time, evergreen trees.

05 it was thought to be impossible 2008

05a nature is resilient 2016

We imagined life where there was no life,

6 preparation in 2009

6a keep planting 2016

digging, shoveling,

7 peace vigil under tarpaulin 2009

holding a vigil to deliver our reconciliatory message to President Obama,

“…..We need to explore human relationships and non-violent options like we pursue science…

….Mankind cannot build relations with weapons…”

7b The US Ambassador promised to deliver our reconciliation message

The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, and the Governor visited us;

we’ve learnt very well that we cannot wait for politicians.

 

9 2nd Cup of Tea Vigil 2009

9a the same path in 2016

9b Zek and Ali having chips with bread 2009

9c Zek and Ali having chips with bread 2016

We invited people to drink tea with us

as the invisible seeds waited for their time.

10 breaking ethnic barriers in 2009

Next to one another, we broke ethnic barriers

10a solidarity and advocacy 2016

and flew kites in solidarity with Gazans and today, against drones.

11 working for the future in 2009

We understood that our work

11a working as a community in 2016

was a partnership with future forests,

12 Ali and Zek in 2009

and though we were young

12a Signage just before it was replaced by a marble stone 2016

and could only paint our convictions,

12b Signage in 2016 Even a little of our love

we finally called upon a marble stone,

to carve a witness to what drove us,

“Even a little of our love is stronger than the wars of the world.”

7a a place for some quiet 2016

It was good they let us try love,

14 vision is sightless 2009

for love is the miracle,

15a visionary effort is transformational 2016

the liberation and the unstoppable space!

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