You don’t often hear from poets in Afghanistan, but beyond all the politics and violence that gets all the press, they’ve been there all along, writing, reciting, performing…
My guest is Wida Sharifi, a poet and writer based here in Herat. She joins me to tell me about how she got her start in poetry and how the world of poetry works in Afghanistan. We also get into literacy, television, work, and more.
Greetings from Kabul, dusty but determined capital of the country everyone has an opinion about: Afghanistan. For the second time in my life, I’ve arrived in Kabul. No longer confused or intimidated with how things look or work (or don’t work), being back in this magic town is like starting your second year of high school. You’re far from mature and wise, but you’re better prepared and strangely comfortable.
Over the next 16 days as part of the intrepid Small World News training team, we will be working as part of the international media development organization Internews. The mission is to teach, train, guide, and share knowledge with aspiring journalists, film makers, new media producers with all manner of interests and objectives. With our combined experiences, not to mention the unique experiences of these young people, we intend to better prepare them for the career that could lay ahead.
During the course of these trainings, I’ll be telling my own stories of what I see and what I hear, as always. But to be here in Afghanistan in 2011, one year after having been here for the elections of 2010, one prevalent feeling in the air (at least the air I breathe) is that at this point in global history, Afghanistan is no longer important. The international light that once shined on this place has grown dim, with those who wield it unwilling or unable to keep it on much longer. Whatever the typical time limit for attention and engagement this fickle and easily distracted world, it has been reached. Listen to a political speech or a news analysis and you’ll hear what to many are good arguments to stop engaging in helping this nation rise from the decade old ashes. Yet here we are, not just Small World News, but so many dedicated people, who still come despite the risks, obstacles, and the criticism; who still work hard for a specific purpose.. helping people build a strong nation with a good foundation. A foundation that took and will take substantial time and investment in various forms.
So it goes. Working in Afghanistan, for Afghanistan, long after it has gone out of style.
Having arrived a few days ago here in the New Jersey house I was raised in, I surely have thoughts, observations, and reports regarding the state of the state around me. However quality time with friends and family comes with story telling and reminiscing of recent adventures in Afghanistan.
Therefore before I can move on to the now, I must first release this last Afghanistan video including alot of footage I had not yet used in a vlog entry.
It wasn’t some childhood dream that led Mariam to photography, instead it was a series of encounters and encouragement that led her to become a professional photographer in her home country of Afghanistan.
In this podcast interview, recorded on my last day in Kabul, Mariam explains her experience as a photographer working throughout Afghanistan over the last few years. She tells about her training, the different jobs she has done, and all the challenges that have arisen along the way.
I’d like to begin by sending out a big thank you and expressing how great it was to be writing and recording content to be shared with all of you and to be getting so much feedback; good bad or in between. Thank you. The trip itself was extremely interesting, educational, and unforgettable, but this aspect of having my audience with me, made it something even greater.
Being back in Amsterdam with fresh memories and a wish to keep in touch with those working and living in Afghanistan, be they locals or foreigners, I now often turn to blogs that I’ve come to value with stories, reports, and rants about the situation there. While there are surely many more choices then the few I recommend, I still wanted to post my list (of 3) in case any of you also want to see some voices that interest me from that part of the world:
Read My Eyes – The candid observations of a very experienced and passionate photo journalist and friend.
Transitionland – Sometimes angry sometimes happy, always educational writing about Afghanistan as well as its quirky international community.
Free Range International – Apparently Im the last one to the party as this blog has long been a household name for Afghanistan War focused individuals.
In Sept. 1996 the Taliban had just taken over Kabul and Jeremy Wagstaff was working as a journalist for Reuters in Hong Kong when the unexpected happened. He was told they needed him in Kabul, without much preperation or explanation he eventually found his way there and found his way to the front lines of the war in Afghanistan.
In this podcast, recorded one calm sunny afternoon in Kabul, Jeremy recalls what the city was like in those days, what you could and couldn’t do, and what dealing with the Taliban was like for a foreign journalist.