#29 Life in Afghanistan :: Haji MohammadPosted: October 30, 2013
We’re running a day late – it’s just how I roll… late. No really, I’m late for everything, always. Plus it’s pretty Asian. So I’m going with it! That means tomorrow will be #30 where I will answer your questions, so keep sending them in. Comment here, tweet @e_j_reading , or email me at pathofauthenticity.gmail.com . You’ve got about 24 hours left! Friday we will be “finishing” this series up. But if you’ve enjoyed it then make sure you come and read on Friday because I have an announcement to make!
I sat in Haji Mohmmad’s* little office, in this Christian NGO, opposite his desk from him, ready to conduct the research interview I had planned. His thick black facial hair encased a friendly smile. This, combined with his rounded belly, little wire glasses, and deep laugh made him seem like a jolly character. His title ‘Haji’ tells me that he has been on the Hajj, and suggests to me that he is a very religious person. I wonder what it is that has found him working for a Christian NGO. I am in a privileged position, it often takes months or years before you can start asking some of the questions I had been asking of Afghans, but as someone conducting research they felt it acceptable for me to ask, and for them to answer. Prompted by my questions Haji Mohmmad tells me his story:
“We are 4 brothers and 2 sisters. My mother and father new that education was important, so as we grew up we were always went to school. Even when we had to be refugees in Pakistan, still my parents made us study and learn. When the oldest brother was getting old enough to think about university my parents spoke with us all. They told us that it is good for us to study in healthcare, that this is a good profession because it is honorable and because it makes good money. My eldest brother studied to become a doctor, the next brother studied to become a dentist. I was always top of my class at school getting the best grades, I wanted to be a doctor. My family made me see that it was good if I became a pharmacist instead. That way our family has a good business – a doctor, a dentist, and a pharmacist can all work together. So I did what they said. Now in my family we have a doctor, a dentist, a gynecologist, and two pharmacists. I own a pharmacy, but as you can see I do not work there anymore, instead my brother runs it.
Many of my brothers and sisters now live in different countries. I was going to live in Australia, to find an Afghan wife there. My brothers spoke to my mother though and said that if I left she would not have a son to take care of her – so she asked me to stay here. I stayed and found a wife here, and now I have 1 son and 3 daughters. It is my duty now to stay and look after my mother, my other family will sometimes email to find out how she is, or maybe sometimes they will visit.
Now I am an office manager here. For some time I worked helping with the finances and learning, and now I am the office manager. I like working here a lot. The atmosphere is very good, they are very honest people, and very kind. My brothers often tell me to leave this job. They say that I can make much better money in other places. The other places will pay me a better salary and I can also make more money by issuing fines or through bribery. But their work is dirty, it is not honorable, it is not pleasing to God, and if I did it it would make me feel very worried. Here the work is good, everything is done the right way, and everyone is treated fairly. Here my conscience is clean, and that is the most important thing to me.
I like this work very much. Now it is like I have two families. My family at home, and my family at the office. Here everyone takes care of each other, sometimes we argue, or we don’t like what the other person is doing, but then we learn to say ‘ok, that is their opinion, or that is their way of doing something, and this is mine. We are just different’ and then we can be peaceful together again.
I am very happy with this job, I would rather have less money and work here than have much money and work there.”
Haji Mohammad had been fortunate to be a part of a family who educated him well and a family who forward planned and worked together to achieve financial stability. He has high moral standards and is not willing to compromise them for money. He recognizes the love, honesty, moral standing, and grace of his Christian colleagues.
There is much poverty in Afghanistan, there are many uneducated people. But there are also people and families like that of Haji Mohammad who have studied hard and worked hard to become educated and financially stable. You may perceive Afghans as being those who hate the West, persecute Christians, and threaten peace – yes there are some – but there are also many, who like Haji Mohmmad, embrace the grace and honesty of Christians, who would like to learn from the good aspects of the West, who simply want a brighter, more peaceful, more moral future for their children, and who are willing to work hard to achieve that.
Let’s remember them, let’s thank God for them, let’s cheer them on, let’s shout out their stories.
*Name changed to protect identities
This is part of the 31 Days series.
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