For Omid, Mursal, Mehdi, and the Afghan Peace Volunteers, this winter in Afghanistan was different from the usual.
“This is the Afghan story, that I’ve been a breadwinner since I was very little,” 19 year old Omid said with perceptible angst. It is a usual story for young Afghans to have prematurely lost one or two parents, and to have to pick themselves up again and again to face the world. “I’ve taken up different kinds of ‘jobs for the poor’ ( ‘gharibi kardum’).”
“But, it still doesn’t quite work out,” Omid looked down in pensive thought. I could only imagine how Omid had tried twice to smuggle himself to Europe, once running away from threatening gunshots.
“I’ve found a flicker of hope this winter, helping with the duvet project, and then learning about the climate, sun, water, soil and food through the permaculture design course.”
15 year old Mehdi had signed up for the course too.
I wish he had stayed throughout the course with Nisar, another street kid, and 42 other Afghan youth. Mehdi told me shyly, “Teacher, I thought someone else had taken my place in the course.” My guess was that his father needed him to find some extra income for the family. It was to make ends meet that Mehdi had to stop schooling last year. Isn’t this especially hard for an industrious, considerate kid who dreams of being a doctor?
Mursal is 13 or 14, and after two years in the Borderfree Street Kids School, she has discovered the activist within her, recently learning to ride the bicycle with the Borderfree Afghan Cycling Club. One day, she approached me and other volunteer teachers, saying, “I want to organize support for street vendors who are hit by the police with their batons.” My soul lit up, recognizing the struggle against such injustices which sparked the Tunisian revolution and ensuing Arab Spring.
Witnessing the energy of these never-say-die stalwarts who are too young to be shouldering responsibilities which adults have shirked, I feel like I’m at the edge of a cliff.
All over the world, we’re grasping this reality: the political, military and economic elite are bringing ‘The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist’s doomsday’s clock of earth and humanity’ to three ‘minutes to midnight’.
That’s why more and more people are autonomously building another world. Like Omid, Mehdi, Mursal and the Afghan Peace Volunteers, they are saying, “#Enough! is #Enough!”
I’ve tried to tell these stories through *six photo essays. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did in putting them together.
They depict the #Enough! GENeration I’m privileged to be working with, tender human beings who wish to nurture Green, Equal and Nonviolent relationships.
They are sick and tired of war, and want to abolish it. They represent the fragile, better sides of our human nature. They are the 99%.
It excites me that they could change everything even if their group ceases to be, because they try to work with ‘root meanings’ and not ‘superficial terms’, and because they’re suggesting a way, and not a thing or a person that can be eliminated or imprisoned.
These green, equal and nonviolent relationships can change our politics, economy, environment and our understanding of safe and secure spaces. They have been changing me by laughing, crying, worrying, healing and shivering with me.
Their love is carrying me through the whole range of emotions which point me to a better world, to who I really am, a human, a fellow human being.
Click here for links to the photo essays.
Dr. Hakim, (Dr. Teck Young, Wee) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 10 years, including being a friend and mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.