A Letter From Kandahar
Ever since I started this tenuous connection with Afghanistan at the end of 2005, I've been getting an average of 10 emails a day about what's going on here, either from people with fat distribution lists or from organizations that compile articles from newspapers and magazines around the world. I've found it hard to keep up with all these reports while I'm here because the news is often so disturbing. It's one thing to read about a gunfight among rival politicians near the airport when I'm home in Cleveland, quite another when I"m HERE.
Today, someone forwarded me this letter, below. It's so filled with hope that I wanted to post it. I wrote an article
about this woman last year for Entrepreneur magazine. She's an Afghan- American associate of Business Council for Peace
who has settled herself in Kandahar, the area often called the "home of the Taliban," where the fighting is most intense. She started and runs a business called Kandahar Treasures that employs 300 local women.
Dear Friends of Afghanistan -
Greetings from HOT Kandahar! I have not written in ages it seems, but I was very touched and inspired and so I write. Today, for the first time in Kandahar's history the women of Kandahar organized to hold a special peace prayer at the sacred Shrine of the Prophet (Kherqa Sharif) in Kandahar.
This program was organized by ordinary mothers, sisters and daughters of men who have lost their lives in these unjust times - they have realized that politics, international policies and the current leaders of the country have not been able to calm the situation in their country. They have learned to turn to God to help!
Kherqa Sharif is relatively a small shrine and Afghans believe that the cloak of the Prophet Muhammad is kept here. Every Thursday thousands of women come to pay their respect to the sacred shrine. The women wanted to hold their event at the Shrine because many women would be there anyway - no need to advertise to gather women. Initially the women did not ask the Shrine keepers to allow them in the mosque next to the Shrine so that they could use the loud speaker - but this morning when the women showed up the Mullah's of the Shrine/Mosque said to the women "you are our sisters and we want you to have a nice prayer - please go to the mosque and hold your prayer there." WHAT MORE DID WE WANT??? The only condition was "no children allowed" - which we planned on not having at any rate for the sake of spoiling the prayer rugs (no diapers in Kandahar!) -
So, the women eagerly went to the mosque and for the first time in Kandahar's history women made a presence at a very historic and public mosque and for the first time in history raised their voices through the loudspeaker that reached the open streets around the Shrine for the sake of peace. Many women were in shock and disbelief that they were allowed inside the Mosque!
I am proud of all the women here because inspite of the situation on the ground the women still gathered to show their solidarity and sisterhood in peace. After the event, my staff and I returned back to our office and I asked them what touched them the most about the event and the following are their answers:
"I have never been this happy in my life - today I read the Holy Quran for my brothers in Islam inside a sacred mosque!"
"For the first time in history we have raised our own voices!"
"After the event, I feel like my depression of life has been lifted!"
"Sitting at the mosque and praying with the women gave me courage to become more active. I know now that I too am capable of serving my people and my country!""This was the best Mother's Day gift that I have ever received!" (Today was Mother's Day in Afghanistan!)
Oh, this was an incredible event! It is indeed amazing what a group of women can do when given the chance. I hope and pray for peace for Kandahar and the rest of the world and hope that our policy makers and decision makers can listen to the cries of so many mothers who so passionately prayed from the bottom of their hearts for peace today in Kandahar. One mother said this while crying out loud " please hold these prayers often so that other mothers would not have to live through what i live through everyday after loosing my beautiful young son so innocently!"