People out in Oxford this Friday stopped to read some of the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ posts from ourjourneytosmile.com/blog, and wrote solidarity and friendship messages in response.
To The Next Generation by Basir Bita
رویاهایم تنها در چشمان تو به واقعیت می پیوندند
I can only find my dreams real in your eyes
با حسی از امید به دیدن آنها
With a sense of hope to see
بلند شدم و تو دستانم را فشردی
I got up and you hold my hands
قلبم را با عشقت فشار بده
Squeeze my heart with your love
خونم را به عطر مبدل کن
Turn my blood to perfume.
دیگر زمزمه نکن
با من حرف بزن
Talk to me
تو اولین برف در بیابان منی
You’re the first snow of my desert life
گریه تا من پربار شوم
Weep until I get fruitful
و آنگاه که پر بار شدم
And when I am fruitful
تو در زیر سایه ی مرطوبم در تابستان زندگی ات بیاسای”
You will rest under my wet shadow in the summer of your life
Faiz, of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, reporting from KABUL, Afghanistan.
Every day, I see a person near our house named Mr. Sayaf. He is 50 years old, and he comes from Maidan Wardak province. He lost both of his legs during the civil war in Afghanistan. He lost the first leg when a rocket landed in his house and exploded. About ten years later, another missile blew off his other leg. Because he cannot walk, he cannot work like the rest of us. He has two artificial legs, which were given to him in the hospital after his operations. “I live with a lot of suffering and sadness,” Mr. Sayaf said.
Mr. Sayaf has a wheelbarrow filled with mousetraps, cups, knives, forks, and credit cards for use with mobile phones. He has a special motorcycle with four tires that he rides to work each day. He lives with his wife and six children in a house about two kilometers from his wheelbarrow, which he leaves each night at a spot near the Pul-e-Surkh Canal. Near Mr. Sayaf’s wheelbarrow is a friend who has lost one leg. Mr. Sayaf told me that he earns about 200 Afghanis (four dollars in US money) each day. He works from 8:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon, six days a week. I asked Mr. Sayaf if he earns enough for his family’s needs. He said, “It’s not enough, but we have to live on it.”
His motorcycle needs four new tires, but he doesn’t have enough money to buy them. When I spoke with him, it was snowing. He told me that it is very difficult for him to drive his motorcycle in the snow and mud. He must work every day because his family does not have enough fuel to keep his room warm, or enough food or warm clothes. The Afghan government does not give Mr. Sayaf any financial assistance. He said that there is a lot of corruption in the government. Money from outside the country goes into the pockets of government officials, “and there are lots of holes in those pockets,” he said. Several of his relatives do have money, but they do not help Mr. Sayaf and his family. “Nobody helps the poor people. We have lost our humanity,” Mr. Sayaf said.
I asked Mr. Sayaf, who was an Afghan policeman before the civil war, “What do you hope for the future?” He looked at me and said, “Hope? What is the meaning of hope?”
A report by Faiz, member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV). Faiz and the other volunteers run open classes that large numbers of local children attend, including children from the street such as Mariam.
My friend’s name is Mariam. She is 12 years old. I want to teach you
about the situation of beggar girls on the streets of Kabul. Mariam is
a beggar girl. Every evening around 4:30 she stands in front of a
bakery in karte se and asks each person who buys bread to also buy a
piece for her. She stops at 7:00. Each night people give her around
20 pieces of bread. I asked her to please stop this work. She said her
family does not have enough bread at home. I asked her what her
brothers and sisters did. She said that one of her sister’s name is
Frishta and she also begs.
Mariam has a father and both a mother and a step- mother. Mariam has
two older brothers and her step-mother has 6 children. Mariam and her
bothers go to school. Mariam’s father will not let her to go to a
special course about English, computers and mathematics. She says her
father argues with her mother about family problems. Her father is a
mover. He rents his wheelbarrow so that people can carry things from
place to place.
Mariam is quite short. Her scarf and clothes are old. Her jacket is
also very old. Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (APV) want to help the
children in the streets. We want to teach them how to write and read.
We also want to teach them about nonviolence. Mariam wants to be a
teacher in the future.
Mariam is afraid of her father. She says her father will beat her if
she goes to the special class. I want to ask the children in the class I teach to invite Mariam to come to the classes at the APV’s house. I hope she does.