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.
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“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.”
Fifteen-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 andhumanity’ 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.
Ending the War Inside and Outside Us
I can see the damage that bombs and a lost refugee father has thrown on you;
it was written on your chained face even as you led the bicycle freedom ride.
Subconsciously, you search for love to provide a balm,
but your hand or leg or back or stammering speech are often trapped in hurts,
like birds with clipped wings in human-crafted cages.
Like every human can be, you are a revolutionary,
taking the ball in Kabul’s corrupted nights of military raids,
hoping to score, or I sense,
to tire yourself out to a numbness that can help you to stop feeling.
You’ve occasionally been trying the Capacitar trauma-healing skills
which Dr. Pat and George have weaved into us,
getting in touch with your physical and other multiple shrapnel-tainted selves,
learning from George who works in US prisons that non-acceptance is a prison.
I can see how you had been left to survive from very young,
like Ismael who can’t quite sit still after dispensing his adult responsibility of working in Kabul’s streets,
or like Habib who has been trying to shake off his father’s sudden explosive death.
It isn’t your fault because with each war outside,
whether by a sick parochial power or a sick super power,
a thousand wars rage and scatter inside,
all seeking outlets of forgiveness before their noise ends.
But, be patient, and not harsh on yourself,
the love you believe in is stronger and larger than you imagine;
war will be abolished.
You are part of the healed humanity that will abolish it.
You are not alone.