I wondered what it would be like returning to Afghanistan after four years. Would I feel as secure as I did the first time or would it be more unsettling? What would women be wearing now and how much would I have to cover up? Normally when you travel to a world capitol it is interesting to see what the latest fashion is, but here it’s what do you have to wear to be safe and not attract attention if that’s possible!!!
My original plan for this trip was that I would travel to the west to visit our partner and hopefully visit the village where our carpet weaving project is, but in the last few weeks it became unwise for me to do that. The greatest danger would not necessarily be to myself, but to our partner. Afghans who work with foreigners are putting themselves at great risk so I would not risk raising his profile by being seen with me. As much as I regret not being able to visit the village we decided that we could accomplish what we need to do by having him meet me here in Kabul for several days. He arrived at the guest house where we are staying this morning and I knew immediately that I had done the right thing in coming. In just an hour of face to face conversation we accomplished more than months of emails. There is much to talk about concerning the project and so much to learn about the current situation here and hope for the future. It’s exciting to be able to talk to someone who is experiencing it and not just hear it in news reports.
I had not known before that he and his family were refugees in Iran during the Russian invasion when he was only a small boy. He is now 31 years old and has 3 sons. He is fluent in Dari/Farsi, Pashtun (his native tongue) and Persian because he grew up in Iran. He has been traveling to the village twice a week for a year…a 140 km journey each way through 10 police check points. He and his mother-in-law have been holding classes for the village people (both men and women) to try and convince them not to sell their 5 year old daughters to husbands in other villages. He was so upset when he learned of this practice that he had to do something about it because he now believes that if he has a daughter he will not take a dowry for her. He says that the classes are having a very positive effect in the village.
Education is the key to any hope for the future. We will be spending time finding products for the women to make, but we will also be discussing ways in which we can improve the education of the children in the village…I can’t wait for our meeting tomorrow.