In May 2010, I was given the opportunity to accompany 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.
by UNA MOORE
Around 8:00 in the morning, we stop in a small village in a mountainous area of Parwan. It’s breakfast time, and we are half-way to Bamiyan City.
The restaurant is the kind most often found along the roads of rural Afghanistan: a few rooms with tiny windows in a mud-walled building. A lanky teenage waiter escorts us to the family section, where men and women can dine together. We sit on the floor and the waiter rolls out a long strip of leather in front of us. Tea and bread are brought. The rest of my party orders kebabs. Being a vegetarian, I stick with the bread and tea. After tsk-tsking me for not eating enough, Aziza produces sweet cakes from her backpack and I happily accept them.
A family sits down next to my party. An elderly woman eyes me curiously. She asks Bisharat if I am Afghan. Bisharat tells her I am a foreigner. The woman looks incredulous and asks what I am doing in the village, and where I am going. When Bisharat answers, the woman squints at me through cataracts and shakes her head.
Foreigners rarely travel to Bamiyan by road. I was warned not to. “There is only one safe way to travel to Bamiyan,” one fellow expat told me seriously days before I left. “That is to fly.”