“Oh please leave, please just leave!” I’ve been repeating this phrase in my head for the last couple of days. My workshop has been stopped thanks to a high level international conference on aid and development funding for Afghanistan. The office is shut, many roadways are completely closed, and everyone is waiting for Ban Ki Moon and the other international superstars and diplomats to get on their planes and fly out of Kabul.
Around 4:00 this afternoon, I know the conference is over. Sitting outside in the garden I see many large helicopters flying overhead, likely carrying our VIP visitors away, and I am relieved. How can people who never walk the streets of a country set the priorities of what gets funding and what initiatives are created? You might be thinking, surely they have people on the ground and advisers to tell them what’s happening in small towns and villages and among the workers of the city? Surely?
A man who I work with told me that it is rare for an NGO to hire Afghans who aren’t fluent in English. So a wide swath of Afghans who have experience, knowledge, connections, and insight are left out of plans and programs that are aimed at improving the quality of life in the country.
Without a real grounding by Afghans, with their own knowledge (intellectual and cultural/social), using their own hands, how can true change come about? True cooperation and power sharing is needed.
I watch the helicopters fly Hillary and Ban Ki Moon away and soon after two small kites alight from the nearby houses. They glide in the air and I can hear the gentle flapping of the wind against their strong, yet thin, paper bodies. Afghan led initiatives might seem like these little kites compared to helicopters, but I prefer seeing the sky covered in kites.
I arrived in Kabul with the news of the coming of General Petraeus. I with my theater warriors and he with the military forces. Tomorrow, we present our culminating performance and the theater groups will prepare to fly. Inshallah, they will soon out number the helicopters.
A friend of mine sent me an excerpt of a poem by William Stafford. It reads:
“We live in an occupied country, misunderstood; justice will take us millions of intricate moves.”