KABUL — For the Afghan Peace Volunteers, living in a working class area of Kabul’s “Karte Seh” district, daily problem-solving requires a triage process.
Last week, upon arrival, I looked at the sagging ceilings over the kitchen, living room and entryway and felt certain that shifting to new living quarters should be the top priority. The following evening, tremors caused by a small local earthquake sent me running out of the house to interrupt a game of volleyball all the others were playing, but cooler heads prevailed and the game continued – what else was there to do? I stayed outside to watch. Later, we talked about the inevitable need to make a move away from our dangerous dwelling and do it soon, so now the daily schedule includes scouring the neighborhood for a new home with comparable space and rent.
Some daily problems are predictable. For example, Ali knows he is behind many other students in the Kabul secondary school he attends, because back in Bamiyan, where he grew up, he’d had limited opportunities to learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. On mornings in the APV house, he struggles to make sense of notes he has carefully recorded in class. Early this morning, he was sitting in the yard carefully writing and rewriting a sentence describing the function of the present continuous tense in English, preparing for an English exam later that day. He and I spent some time writing English sentences in the present and present continuous tenses, and then he taught me how to do the same in Dari. Some problems at least have simple solutions.
Abdulhai wants the best for his widowed mother. Like almost every other Afghan family, Abdulhai has experienced deep personal loss, the loss of his father to war. I remember one late evening in Kabul some months ago when he confided in me and Hakim about the difficult memories of fleeing away from the fighting through the snowy mountains of Bamiyan province where his simple and honest family resides…