Back in Afghanistan

Posted by Dominic on Wednesday, April 12th, 2006
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We arrived in Kabul on Tuesday and all is well. Joel and I had a great visit here last winter and things have picked up where they left off. Local folks have been wonderful and gracious to us despite what continues to be one of the toughest spots on earth to make a life.

The security situation has gone downhill somewhat from last year. Previously, officials were talking of the end of Taliban resistance and the coming peace. Unfortunately this hasn’t been the reality of the past 12 months. Continued bombings (mostly out of Kabul) and kidnappings have made things noticeably more stressful for visitors and locals alike. The Internet café we used last visit is closed because of the suicide bombing two weeks after we left. We’ve been advised to hire armed guards but decided against the increased visibility and strangeness of having a bunch of guns around our cameras. Something tells me that we might have different types of discussions if there were guns involved.

We’ve spent the past few days visiting with a number of folks. Most people have expressed positive views of US and its stabilizing presence in the last 4 years. After 25 years of invasions, civil war and the Taliban, people are happy for anything but what they’ve lived through. Unfortunately, there are few jobs and this is as poor a place as you could imagine. For some, hope is fading of a rebirth in Afghanistan and they are beginning a new exodus to Iran and Pakistan.

There isn’t really anybody here who doesn’t have something to say about the US because it plays such a prominent role in daily life. Many of the mistakes that have been made in Iraq fortunately have been avoided here, mostly because of what I see as a genuine global face to the rebuilding. In Afghanistan there is truly a coalition of nations working to bring some possibility of a future without war. Although clearly so much more could be done to support these folks and Iraq has all but erased the global attention span.

In the Kolala Pushta area of town we met Arifa. Her story is one that is difficult to even approach in this short email. I will say just briefly that she is a very courageous and kind woman who lost 8 of her family to an accidental US bomb in the waning days of the US invasion of Kabul. A young American woman, Marla Rudzika worked to secure compensation for her and others like her in Afghanistan and Iraq until last year when she was killed near Baghdad. She was a close friend to Han and this meeting with Arifa has been painful but I am really hoping ultimately a positive one. To this day she has received nothing for the tragic loss of her home, 7 children and husband. We’ve decided, the four of us, to do something, anything we can to help the situation. Any ideas or support anyone wants to give, let me know.

This trip of around the world has been a blessing but with it has come the realization that it’s often so easy to be part of someone’s life for a week and then jet off to some other exotic locale. Lately, its been hard to do that with a clear conscience. People have given so much to what we are doing. I realize that film as a powerful medium of communication has the possibility to bring change, but it seems time to do more. One thing I learned making our first film Awakening was that it’s the small things, the small gifts and generosity shared amongst people that begins the long road toward a hope that lasts and doesn’t end up in the ash pile of cynicism.

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