#17 Life in Afghanistan :: Talk Good To MePosted: October 17, 2013
Sorry I didn’t post yesterday. Honestly I didn’t even realize until I got some email about it. I was just feeling way to ill and in pain to think about it, even a guest post which I just had to copy and paste – poor show, I know. Today is a little better though, and I’m here, posting yesterday’s guest post. On that note…
Today we have a guest post! This is written by someone I only met recently, but let me tell you people, she is one of the most memorable people I have met. She is hilarious, a little crazy, kind, caring, makes GREAT grilled cheese, smart, dedicated, very cool, and just kind of wonderful. She’s written a great post today FULL of the positive side. I can’t wait for you to read it. Welcome Isabella…
I am walking out of the dimly lighted room to the cool outside night’s breeze. I am with two of my colleagues from work. There are at least 7 heavily armed guards leading us outside. It’s unfamiliar territory, I’m scared; I just want to leave this place. We made a deal with Hammed about the girl – he promised to let her go. We are being escorted out of the compound to our car. I know that I’ll only start breathing normally when we’re safely driving away. I jump as one of the guards loads his weapon. Sophia, my colleague starts yelling “We had a deal! Don’t do this! Please!” 2 gunshots. She’s on the ground. Blood starts rushing from the back of her head. The guards let us go.
5:10 AM. Again.
I’ve been in Afghanistan for almost two months and I’ve had the same dream for the past week and a half. I’m cursed with an over-active imagination and a love for spy movies. I work for a Human Rights NGO here, in Kabul. We help survivors of trafficking and sexual violence heal and reintegrate into society. I hear all their stories and I document every little detail – and sometimes when I fall asleep at night, I make them my own.
As an outsider looking in, when you think of Afghanistan; you think ‘blue burqa’. You think sexual violence and human rights abuses. You think extreme poverty and death. You think Taliban and war. You’re right.
Afghanistan still reigns as one of the world’s most dangerous place for women according to the Tomas Reuters Foundation’s survey on global risks and perceptions. An estimated 2,000 Afghan women and girls attempt suicide by setting themselves on fire each year, which is linked to domestic violence and early or forced marriages. Nearly 40 % of the population live in poverty and a woman has one in 11 chance of dying while in labour. And, yes, according to a report by the United Nations, the Taliban are responsible for 76% of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
These are all very important things to acknowledge and are realities of daily life in Afghanistan. And for almost two months now, these are stories that I’ve been hearing – this has been my reality.
Yet, more than often we like to paint this aggressive, lawless, war-ravaged picture of Afghanistan. We are all guilty of it – it’s human nature: we like to focus on the ‘bad’. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been bombarded with horror stories of rape and murder, of extreme poverty and violence and, in all honesty: I’m kind of ‘over-it’. There are other realities that run parallel to the Afghan horror stories ubiquitous in today’s media; I believe that there are other stories that can dominate our dinner conversations.
Here – let me start:
Did you know that Afghan-led and made businesses and commerce’s are starting to spring up all over Kabul? Oh! I heard that Afghanistan joined the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) this past March – isn’t that a huge milestone?! Wow! Hey – and you know what, since 2006 the percentage of women in universities has been steadily increasing – reaching 25% of the universities’ population after only three years!
Wanna hear more?
In 2007 only seven percent of the population had access to electricity – since then that figure has risen to approximately 30%. In August 2012 there were a total of 1,445 female police officers spread across the various ranks of the national police force; something that was unheard of in 2007. The revitalization of the central bank and new Afghan currency paved the way for local and international banks to begin operations in country. The World Bank estimated that GDP growth averaged 9.2% from 2003 to 2012 – estimating an 11.8% growth from 2012 to 2013! Afghan telecommunications and media now includes six mobile phone carriers, 75 television channels, over 175 radio stations, and hundreds of print publications – a revitalization of media since the Taliban era.
Against insurmountable odds, Afghanistan seems to be kicking some major booty.
Can you imagine what would happen if we tried to include ‘good’ into every conversation we had? Can you imagine the impact that it would have on how we view this country or even how this country views itself? I sure can – and it’s pretty darn exciting.
I’m a shameless optimist at heart. I think it’s because I understand the power of positive thinking. I’ve seen the impact of shifting conversations into constructive forums; I’ve experienced empowerment through positive dialogue. It works. It’s science. I use it all the time. And you should too.
I think it’s time to rethink the way we talk to others and to put a little more ‘good’ into it. Only then can we really start transitioning into the reality we really want; and only then can we really start changing the way we dream.
*Names changed to protect Identities
PS This post will be hyper linked up to all sources tomorrow. Check back then.
This is part of the 31 Day series