U.N. Dispatch: Embedded With Afghan Civil Society, Part One, Leaving Kabul in Darkness


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In May 2010, I accompanied the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization (AHRDO), an NGO that promotes human rights through arts and culture, as its staff conducted participatory theater workshops as psycho-social therapy and organized civilian war victims to take an active role in shaping the national debate over the government’s intention to negotiate with some of the insurgent factions currently battling Afghan and international forces.


Bamiyan. National Geographic photo.


Day one.

At 3:oo in the morning, Bisharat, AHRDO’s 28-year-old managing director, calls me to say he is close to my house and to be ready when he arrives. The Toyota minibus pulls up outside and I bundle my duvet and duffle bag in the back. Bisharat slams the door shut. “Okay,” he says, “let’s go to Bamiyan!”

Inside, Bisharat introduces me to Aziza, an Afghan actress and filmmaker who spent many years in Iran and is now considering working for AHRDO. The other passengers include the long-haul driver, Rohullah, and AHRDO’s usual driver, Amin.

We begin the easiest phase of our eight-and-a-half hour journey from Kabul to Bamiyan City. The streets of Afghanistan’s capital are quiet and still. Few people move about in the pre-dawn hours.

Read the rest at U.N. Dispatch.


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