Delavnice

V okviru organizacije HELP potekajo številna poklicna izobraževanja za afganistanske povratnike iz Irana kot tudi izobraževanja s področja administracije in projektnega vodenja za mlade. Prav slednji so bili moji prvi učenci. Zanje sem pripravila delavnice, ki naj bi jim pomagale pri vključevanju na trg delovne sile. Govorili smo o načrtovanju kariere, zastavljanju zaposlitvenih ciljev in pisali zaposlitvene načrte. Istočasno sem zanje pripravila interaktivne delavnice in delavnice, ki so temeljile na izkustvenem učenju, na katerih so s pomočjo iger, iger vlog, razprav, predstavitev razvijali svoje komunikacijske spretnosti ter pridobivali izkušnje s področja timskega dela in kreativnega reševanja problemov.
Kaj kmalu sem dobila še dve skupini »učencev«, ki sta bili sestavljeni predvsem iz mentorjev poklicnega izobraževanja in drugega osebja centrov za poklicno usposabljanje organizacije HELP. Tako so na mojih delavnicah sodelovali tako mentorji s področja kleparstva, mizarstva, šivanja … kot tudi osebje, ki se ukvarja s trženjem, iskanjem zaposlitev za tiste, ki so zaključili usposabljanja, ter vodstveno osebje centrov za poklicno usposabljanje. Vsi zelo radi sodelujejo, saj imajo le malokrat priložnost, da se udeležijo podobnih izobraževanj, ki jih vodijo tujci.

HELP izobražuje tudi predstavnike afganistanskih organizacij, s katerimi sodeluje. Tudi za slednje sedaj pripravljam delavnice. Skupine so precej pisane, tako po nivoju izobrazbe kot tudi po starosti, izkušnjah, področju dela. Nekateri, predvsem starejši učitelji in učiteljice, ki usposabljajo bodoče šivilje, krznarje … so nepismeni, a imajo številne izkušnje tako s področja dela kot tudi življenjske izkušnje. Drugi so mlajši, nekateri celo šele končujejo srednjo šolo, a so pri delu v HELP-u zelo uspešni in ambiciozni ter že posedujejo številne veščine. Med njimi so tako fantje kot dekleta, slednja so večkrat zelo zgovorna in pogumna, medtem ko so starejše gospe bolj plašne in tihe. Njihov odziv po delavnicah je večinoma pozitiven, vedno kaj novega izvejo, prav tako pa se tudi jaz od njih vedno kaj novega naučim.

Katja

Afganistanski vsakdan

Večina Slovencev si ob omembi Afganistana najverjetneje predstavlja državo, ki so jo številni konflikti izčrpali in katere si zaradi nestabilnosti in nevarnosti, o katerih največkrat poročajo mediji, ne želijo obiskati.

Kljub temu pa slika Afganistana le ni tako črno bela. Še posebej pa ne v Heratu, ki velja za oazo miru v tej srednjeazijski državi. Tu življenje poteka po zelo ustaljenih tirnicah; ljudje delajo, se poročajo, izobražujejo, se zabavajo, jezijo in veselijo. Čeprav standard življenja v primerjavi s slovenskim ni visok, si lahko privoščijo marsikaj – od avtomobila – rabljene uvažajo z vseh koncev sveta, do nove hiše (te žal zahodni način gradnje posnemajo le navzven, pozabljajo pa na praktične vidike, kot je dobra izolacija).

Herat leži na poti iz Irana proti Kitajski. Tu je nekoč potekala svilena cesta, pomembno gospodarsko in trgovsko središče pa je mesto še danes. V tukajšnjih trgovinah se najde izdelke, uvožene iz Irana, Kitajske, evropskih držav ali ZDA. Da se tu najde tudi evropske in ameriške izdelke, gre zahvala predvsem zahodnim silam v Afganistanu, ki so prisotne tudi v Heratu.

Poleg stvari, potrebnih v vsakdanjem življenju, pa se na tukajšnjem bazarju najde tudi marsikaj tradicionalnega in pristnega afganistanskega. To so na primer preproge različnih velikosti, barv in vzorcev, ki nakazujejo na izvor preproge – ta je lahko perzijski, turkmenski, uzbeški … Poleg preprog na lokalni tržnici prodajajo tudi usnjene izdelke, različne rute za ženske, paštunska in turkmenska pokrivala za moške in zavese, ki so zelo pomembne v vsaki hiši in ponos vsake Afganistanke.

Seveda pa na tržnici ne manjka tudi tipične afganistanske hrane, za katero sicer pravijo, da je »riž in meso in meso in riž«. Največkrat je na krožniku ovčetina, rižu dodajo številne začimbe, predvsem žafran, zraven pa je seveda obvezen tudi »nun«, njihov ploščat kruh direktno iz peči. Večkrat je na mizi tudi »kabuli«, riž s številnimi dišavami, začimbami in rozinami, ki je ime dobil po glavnem mestu Kabul. Afganistanci zraven spijejo tudi na litre zelenega čaja, ki je tu bolj popularen kot črni.

Čeprav velja Afganistan za zelo konzervativno državo, se znajo mladi tudi tu zabavati. Največkrat gredo k prijateljem ali sorodnikom na zabave, zelo pomembne so zaroke in poroke, ki jih je na pretek in za katere zapravijo na gore denarja. Zima žal ni primeren čas zanje, tako da še na nobeni nisem bila, upam pa, da se bom v Afganistan lahko še vrnila in imela priložnost obiskati tudi to za Afganistance tako pomembno slavje.

Katja

Friendship relations

21 May 2012

I have tried several phrases to start my writing with but I couldn’t find a more suitable phrase than friendship relations! I am talking about the friendship relations between two friend countries Slovenia & Afghanistan. Afghanistan, the place where I am coming from. Before I leave for Slovenia, I studied about it and visited its website, but being in Slovenia really gives me the power to feel it; the real green nature, the huge diversity of things really attracted me. The nice people, the respect to law, the practice of human rights and specifically women rights are the climaxes that are the fundamentals of a developed country and practically I can see them here in Slovenia and feel them.

But I have One concern that is about the young Slovenian generation, there is quite a lot of opportunities for them to learn, to become experts and to improve, but I see majority of them are not making use of these opportunities in the best way possible, I see more hobbies than being leaned to the chair and study or research, I see too many of the youth are keen to go around, and having parties than to study, but maybe I am not still that familiar with this part of the world.

The initiative of having an internship program with Afghanistan NGOs is a nice planned task by the government of Slovenia and NGOs of Slovenia, on top of which are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Sloga NGDO. Being in Slovenia and working with different NGOs and being aware of their work procedures, planning and implementation gives me the idea how to better work in Afghanistan, when I am back.

I found out the professionals of Slovenia the right people to get knowledge from, people who endeavored a lot to become expert on the field of their subject by the opportunities were ahead of them, and the vital assistance Slovenes can do for Afghans is to enhance the capacity of Afghans and pave the ground for them to make use of the education opportunities provided by the government of Slovenia and Slovenian NGOs.

On top of the demands of Afghans always I see proper knowledge and situation to get it, I am very happy that the internship program through which I am here will help me a lot and wish it to be continued for a longer period. In addition to that I ask the Slovene Government to provide Afghan Students with some Scholarships even, so that Afghans get the proficiency which is needed.

Now is the time to help Afghanistan a bit more in terms of Education, economy and some other issues, because Afghanistan has almost become secure and is forwarding ahead, I am happy today, that the world is changing its way of assistance to Afghanistan, I hope Slovenia by the majority of the professionals that it posses change its way of assisting too, Afghanistan needs more training on every aspect than military forces only, I hope that the assistance shall be coordinated through more loyal civil NGOs to really reach the needy Afghans, than to be spent by the NGOs and for the NGOs.

I hope that one day, in the near coming years we all will be witness of a prosperous Afghanistan next to its International Friends! On that day I hope Slovenia to be on top of the countries which devoted lots of its professionals to build up the capacity of Afghans and Afghan Government.

Zabiwollah Monib

My impression of Slovenia – duties I carried out in Slovenia

30 May 2012

Better to say earth-heaven not Slovenia, it might be very interesting for you to know that, Although this is my first trip to Europe but I had heard lots about European countries but not about Slovenia, the very peaceful and cultural part of Europe. I found it very rich in terms of green nature, proper infrastructures, appropriate rules and principles to all social facilities, and more disciplined people. I arrived to this beautiful & peaceful part of the earth on 16th May 2012, and the next day started my work with the very cooperative colleagues in Sloga NGDO, based in Ljubljana.

Getting to know about how NGOs are working and carrying out several projects, attending events, meeting different people of the society, from the NGOs and the government, talking to the press and media are the tasks I can name which has been carried out by me during my stay in Ljubljana (May 16 to May 31).

On the 18th May, I attended the event “celebrating Africa’s day” which was held in international Center for promotion of Enterprise.The same day, I had an interview with a reporter from Slovenia press Agency (STA) and it was the first interview I had in Slovenia. One of the challenging questions I faced was, ”if you were Karzai what would you do that he could’ or didn’t do it”. Although I insisted that I don’t want to be Karzai but the reporter wanted me to answer this policy-need question at that moment, so I told him: first I would change my cabinet and measured people around me not only by tribe or ethnic group but more by knowledge and capacity, and would select people in my cabinet who would be more capable and committed. Another response which I would give and I haven’t given him that day is, decentralization of the power in Afghanistan’s government. As I mentioned this question shall be answered more carefully and more critically. I hope next time I might face such questions I will be more prepared.

The next day I visited Mr. Ralf Čeplak who visited Herat in 2011 and is one of the hardworking employees of the ethno graphic museum of Slovenia. He introduced me to the respected Museum director and the respected staff of the museum. In the afternoon I attended an event in the University of Ljubljana which was about “The one hundred years of Chinese Music”. The second day, Mr. Čeplak showed me the permanent exhibitions existing in the Museum and the temporary ones which were available.

On the 22nd May I was invited to a news program in National TV of Slovenia. I expected to have a long interview about Afghanistan but they had their planned program and I had only 4 to 5 minutes to answer the questions of that program’s announcer. I hope you watched it, either through the TV or website. After the program they suggested if I can attend in another program by the name of Globus which will be filmed on end of June. This program is also focusing on international situation, I interestedly accepted, hope it works.

On the 23rd May I attended an event on sustainable development (Rio+20) held by Solga and several respected delegates of NGO and government of Slovenia attended. It was very helpful to be updated by the people who were in the panel and the questions raised by the participants, although I always prefer to talk less and do more but sometimes it is needed to have debates to clarify the ambiguities. On the other hand in such debates you will know about various abilities of the people, governmental institutions and NGOs.

On the 25th May I had a meeting with representatives of Defense Ministry (Mr. Srečko Zajc), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Andrej Dernovšček), and Higher Education, Science and Technology Ministry (Mag. Milena Štimec). In this meeting different issues about Afghanistan were discussed and the very important issue was the assistance approach of Slovenia to Afghanistan. I completely disagreed with this approach and tried to explain my opinion that aid doesn’t mean only military and army, although the core problem in Afghanistan is security. But it is not told that all and every country should and must have military presence in Afghanistan and on the other hand it is not logical to implement civil projects through military bases and forces. Among the responses from the respected representative of Defense ministry the very logical answer I found was that Slovenia has the mandate to take part in sending soldiers to Afghanistan through the NATO framework. But even at the very first point some countries, for instance like Slovenia, who could help Afghanistan in another way than only security, had to tell the world that we will not send soldiers but we will assist Afghanistan in education or any other sector which Afghan society needs. Another point, good that you have now sent your soldiers to Afghanistan but why do you want to implement the projects for civilians through military bases/Forces!? It is absolutely wasting of money and it shall not reach to the real needy people! I highly requested the respected representatives to share the idea with the superiors in the ministry about the policy and approach of assisting Afghanistan. If the assisting budget is going to be spent in Afghanistan through military bases, most of the money will not be reached to civilians and thus civilians will forever remain dependent. Most projects by military are too short because the base existing in the area wants to depict the result of the project. However they might not think that it is not a durable and sustainable program. Meanwhile if the money is spent by an existing civil NGO in the region it will have more impact and will be sustainable, since the Civil NGOs are always in the region and are closely working with the people. Here I shall mention that there are NGOs who also waste the money with their exaggerating salaries for themselves and their employees, for buying too many bullet proof cars, for maintaining too much security and so on… Which it is simply wasting the assistance of the world to Afghans. At the end of the meeting I was very happy to hear that the respected representatives of the ministries promised that there will be a huge change in the way of helping Afghanistan after 2014, since after the Chicago meeting all the world countries promised such. I hope so.

Zabiwollah Monib

Pedagoška praksa v Afganistanu

29. junij 2012

V mesto Herat sem kot predstavnica slovenskih nevladnih organizacij za Afganistan prispela v sredini junija 2012. Priznati moram, da so bile moje predstave o Afganistanu zelo temačne. Po prihodu pa se mi je začela razkrivati sončna plat te dežele z nasmejanimi, znanja željnimi in prijaznimi ljudmi.  Res, da je okolica mesta  peščena in sušnata z izrazito rjavo barvo, a njeno nasprotje so žive mestne ulice polne prometa, pešcev  in prodajalcev raznobarvnega sadja. Rjavi barvi zidov kontrast dajejo pisane rikše ter tradicionalna bela moška oblačila ter modre burke in črni čadorji, ki jih nosijo ženske.

V delovanje organizacije Help sem se zelo hitro vključila. Poleg tega, da je organizacija razvila zelo kvaliteten način integriranja povratnikov, jim je uspelo ustvariti tudi dobro delovno klimo, kjer se prišlek zelo hitro počuti domačega. Kot socialni pedagog sem se našla predvsem na področju dela z mladimi in otroci.

Afganistan nima razvite predšolske politike in nima izobraževanja za predšolsko vzgojo. Torej so  vrtci nekakšno varstvo otrok brez jasnega programa vzgojno-izobraževalnih vsebin. Otrokom se  v teh vrtcih nudi  dobro varovanje, a zelo malo ali skorajda nič nekih aktivnosti, ki bi bile usmerjene v razvoj otrokovih sposobnosti.

Organizacija Help ima pod svojim okriljem nekaj manjših vrtcev, v katere so  vključeni otroci povratnikov in delavcev. Svoje delo sem začela v teh vrtcih. Na prvih delavnicah sem vzgojiteljicam predstavila »zahodnjaški« pogled na otroka, kjer se ga dojema kot aktivno  in ustvarjalo ter učeče se bitje, ki se uči in razvija hitreje kot odrasli. Zato mu je potrebno ponuditi in »nastavljati« dovolj materiala preko katerega se uči, preko poskusov in napak prihaja do novih ugotovitev, razvija svojo domišljijo, ustvarjalnost, ročne spretnosti oz. motoriko ter krepi estetski čut in ostri uporabo različnih čutov.  V okviru denarnih sredstev iz projekta sem kupila ustvarjalni in didaktični material (otroške škarje, vodene barvice in lepilo), ki smo ga uporabili na sledečih delavnicah z otroci. Mnogi izmed otrok so škarje držali prvič v rokah (saj so le-te samo za odrasle). Veselje je bilo nepopisno tako za otroke kot vzgojiteljice. Seveda bo preteklo še nekaj delavnic preden bodo le-te resnično prepustile celoten proces ustvarjanja otrokom in jim bodo v oporo in spodbudo, ne pa preveliko pomoč.  Do takrat se bo vedno znova ponavljal moj stavek: »Otrok zmore sam, ne potrebuje vašega vmešavanja in pomoči. Potrebuje vašo spodbudo in pohvalo.«

Alenka Bašelj

Krepitev veščin na drugačen način

9. julij 2012

Drugo moje delo in veliko veselje tukaj v Heratu je sodelovanje s cirkuškim timom, ki ga je spomladi pod svoje okrilje vzela organizacija Help, ko je njihova izvorna mednarodna organizacija ostala brez sredstev. Skupina se ukvarja z akrobacijami, petjem, plesom, gledališčem, slikanjem, fotografijo in filmom. Cirkuški tim je skozi dolgoletno delovanje v mednarodni organizaciji pridobil kar nekaj znanja iz delovanja na tem področju, vendar še vedno potrebujejo veliko pomoči pri organiziranju in oblikovanju delavnic. Njihove delavnice jim pomagam prilagoditi in oblikovati tako, da bi z njimi lahko gostovali v vrtcih in šolah. Poleg samih vsebinskih predlogov, pa jim posredujem tudi znanje o pedagoškem pomenu teh aktivnosti. Seznanjam jih, da akrobacije niso samo telesna aktivnost, pač pa se preko cirkuških aktivnosti krepijo mentalne in socialne veščine kot so: koordinacija gibov, koncentracija, krepitev odgovornosti, zaupanja in boljše samozavesti, skupinsko delo, komunikacija  itd.  Med njih delim zanje, da poleg tega, da glasba in petje sproščata otroke, jih tudi navdihujeta in spodbujata k boljšemu razvoju  obeh polovic možganov. Afganistanska kultura ima namreč do petja in plesa izven varnega zavetja družine zelo zadržan odnos in mladi le redkokdaj lahko sproščeno zapojejo, kaj šele zaplešejo.

Posredujem zanje in zavedanje, da otroci, ki jim je omogočeno, da se dovolj gibajo, plešejo, pojejo, nastopajo in so na različne načine ustvarjalni, dosegajo boljše uspehe v šoli in so nasploh boljše pripravljeni za življenjske izzive. Torej poskušam zasejati idejo, da  raznorazne oblike ustvarjalnosti in umetnosti niso samo za odrasli svet, pač pa so neskončen poligon za razvoj otrokovih motoričnih, socialnih in mentalnih spretnosti.

Nasploh menim, da sta predšolska vzgoja in delo z mladimi dva področja, na katerih bi Slovenija v tej deželi v nadaljevanju lahko pustila večji pečat. Na tem področju premoremo dovolj znanja, hkrati pa ni potreben velik materialni vložek, ki si ga majhna Slovenija težko privošči. Upam, da se bo projekt nadaljeval in, da bodo prostovoljci , ki bodo prišli za mano, še dodatno okrepili in bogatili to zelo pomembno področje. Saj so tudi v Afganistanu otroci največje bogastvo in tudi tukaj svet stoji na mladih.

 Alenka Bašelj

Delavnice – nadaljevanje

15. junij 2012

Eden od ciljev projekta Konzorcij slovenskih nevladnih organizacij za Afganistan je tudi usposabljanje lokalnih mentorjev poklicnih izobraževanj. Mentorji so skupaj z drugim osebjem izobraževalnih središč (pisarna za registracijo, pisarna za iskanje ustreznih po potrebnih usposabljanj, pisarna za iskanje delodajalcev…) za povratnike pomembni tako z vidika poklicnega usposabljanja kot tudi kot svetovalci in opora povratnikom med procesom izobraževanja, iskanja zaposlitve in uspešne vključitve v družbo.

Številni povratniki se ob prihodu v Herat in v HELP ne znajo odločiti, kaj jih zanima oziroma kaj bi radi počeli v prihodnje. Zaradi popolnoma novih razmer, v katerih se znajdejo, je zato pomembno, da jih nekdo vodi od začetka izobraževanja do konca. Tako ne pride do izpada koristnikov, ki jih usposabljanje ne zanima in vidijo več koristi v občasnih delih, ki jih lahko opravljajo.

Zato za mentorje in ostale zaposlene v izobraževalnih središčih izvajam delavnice s področja zaposlitvenih veščin, ki jih lahko kasneje sami pripravijo tudi za povratnike. Na delavnicah razvijamo ključne osebne in socialne spretnosti, npr: izvajamo aktivnosti s področja raziskovanja in analiziranja osebnih vrednot in interesov ter spodbujanja motivacije za karierni management in učenje, zastavljanja ciljev in priprave osebnega poklicnega načrta, analiziranja in reševanja problemov, krepitve komunikacijskih spretnosti in timskega dela ter mreženja.

Tovrstne delavnice so pomembne za dvig samozavesti povratnikov ter jim pomagajo pri analiziranju lastnih interesov in poklicnih ciljev, kar dviguje motivacijo za učenje in dokončanje usposabljanja. Trenutno se HELP namreč sooča s težavo pomanjkanja in izpadanja predvsem moških koristnikov, saj se ti raje odločajo za priložnostna dela namesto za zaključek usposabljanje, za katerega niso motivirani in zainteresirani oziroma se v njem dolgoročno ne vidijo. Obenem se ukvarjamo z zastavljanjem poklicnih (in drugih) ciljev ter korakov postopnega doseganja le-teh. Tu je tudi za mentorje potrebno veliko vaj in aktivnosti, saj so zelo dobri v iskanju idej in predlogov, a teh ne znajo vzročno-posledično strukturirati oziroma jih tudi v praksi izvesti.

Ker poskušajo na HELPu spodbuditi sodelovanje med koristniki in vzpostavljanje kooperativ se ukvarjamo tudi s timskim delom, komunikacijskimi spretnostmi, razvijanjem podjetniških spretnosti (podjetnost) in kreativnostjo. Te vsebine so v Afganistanu še razmeroma neznane oziroma ne veljajo za pomembne, kar se vidi tudi med praktičnimi aktivnostmi. Večkrat se izkaže, da imajo zaradi pomanjkljive komunikacije, organizacije in koordinacije težave pri izvedbi nalog. Teh se lotijo prehitro, brez razmisleka, načrtovanja in razdelitve nalog oziroma vlog.

Tovrstne dejavnosti poleg že omenjenih spretnosti krepijo tudi medsebojno spoštovanje in toleranco, saj morajo udeleženci sodelovati med sabo in doseči skupni cilj. Večkrat sem namreč opazila, da se med sabo prekinjajo oziroma ne dovolijo drugim zaključiti stavka. Medsebojno spoštovanje in sodelovanje sta temelja za nadaljnji družbeni in gospodarski razvoj Afganistana, zato je potrebno tovrstne vrednote tu še bolj spodbujati.

Po mojem zaključku usposabljanja tukajšnjih trenerjev in predaji materiala mislim, da bi morala biti polovica udeležencev (od tega tretjina žensk) sposobna izvajati podobne delavnice za povratnike, še vedno pa bi občasno potrebovali dodaten vložek zunanjih izvajalcev in obnovitvene delavnice.

Katja Kumar

Welcome to Afghanistan – the land of brave

20th July 2012

My journey to Afghanistan actually started at beginning of February 2012, when I applied as a volunteer for the project of two Slovenian NGOs (Povod & Zavod Krog) under the umbrella of SLOGA, financially supported by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia and in cooperation with hosting organization HELP.

At that time, I did not know much about the project and even less about rich culture of Afghanistan.  I also have to admit that in my rather wide social network there were no Afghans or friends of Afghans.

Preparations for Afghanistan mission were rather physically and emotionally demanding, full of long conversations with my family, colleagues and friends concentrated on insecurity issues and numerous negative stereotypes about this country with more than 2.500 years long history and culture. At the same time I had to deal with my personal insecurities, while it is actually my first longer stay in this part of the world and in Muslim culture as such.

Today, being in Heart, it makes me sad and many times upset, that majority of images and information we have about this reach culture evolves around war related topics mainly installed into our heads by news headlines.

Despite many doubts surrounding my decision to join project in Afghanistan, I was very appealed to it since the beginning and determined in my decision to join HELP’s work from middle of July to beginning of September.

Very stereotypically, but for me as a Western women my first actual touch with Afghanistan happened through ‘fashion’ and some anxiety about necessity to wear a head scarf and long sleeved clothes.  Such dress code is not ordinary for my culture, especially not in hot weather with an average temperature of 35 degrees Celsius. It was helpful though that in my usual fashion style I like to combine long T-shirts with scarves of all shapes and colours. Even though, I consider myself to be a rather culturally adaptable person, who likes to experiment with local dress codes, I found  chador – large piece of synthetic cloth, that covers body from head to toes –  as very unpractical and hot mean of covering women’s body. If I would have to wear it on daily basis, which is not the case (head scarf is sufficient), I would try to change the fabric of chador to cotton or something similar to the fabric of male traditional suits, which seem very comfortable. Besides that I would add some button or pin in order to walk freely without worrying, if chador will stay on me or not.

Many times I feel Afghanistan as a country, which seems to have united people of different ethnical backgrounds, in suffering and painful losses. As though enduring three decades of war, from Soviets to Mujahidin to Taliban wasn’t burden enough, people here are still to this day faced with constant insecurity risks and numerous struggles to rebuild their personal lives and country. They are subjected to continuous and radical regime changes, to which they have to adapt not only existentially wise, but also in psychological and social terms.

For me joint characteristic of Afghans is that they are really brave. It is true as the welcoming sign at Kabul airport states ‘Welcome to Afghanistan – the land of brave’. It seems as though nothing can break Afghans’ will and as though they will never give up. They still laugh, sing and dance. I am fortunate enough that I have a change to meet and discover very brave women and men of Herat and Afghanistan. Our colleagues in HELP are also very kind, pleasant and hospitable people, who smile a lot. I really like that. I am aware that they all had difficult lives and had to endure a lot, but I believe that on the way they have gained strength that their efforts are not in vain and there is a brighter future ahead.

Faced with stereotypes regarding Afghanistan and its culture on a daily basis, I really feel how stereotypes are limiting and how they leave little to no room for individuality. As such they are preventing us to ‘look with heart’ as Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. They disable us to connect with fellow human being as soul mates in this struggle for better future.
I am looking forward that upon my return I will share my positive impressions about Afghanistan among my family, friends, colleagues and wider community. Hopefully, by doing so, I will contribute to more positive picture of Afghani people and maybe even awake pieces of little princes and princesses, for which I hope still exist in all of us.

Tina Nemanič

 

From Shakiban to Slovenia

1st August 2012

Almost all of the people I know in Herat lost somebody in war, which is not surprising considering that Afghanistan endured three decades of war and still suffers high insecurity risks.

It is hard to imagine all suffering people of Herat and Afghanistan had to endure.
For me as thirty-three years old woman from Slovenia and Europe it is very hard to fully comprehend, how it is, if you spend your whole life in war.

To some extent I can relate to Afghans and transition they are going through, while we have also had a transition from Yugoslavia to our independent state and later on to European Union. However, despite Slovenian independence war in 1991, it was still a rather peaceful transition. Yet, in Afghanistan it seems, that transitions are possible only by use of weapons, causing enormous suffering and irreversible damage to innocent people.

On 27th July 2012, we went to pick up Robert, director of Povod, one of the Slovenian NGOs involved in this project, from Iranian border. Herat, city where we are based, is the first city from Iranian border, about 120 km away. On the way back we have also visited village Shakiban, situated between border and Herat, which is the birth place of my co-worker and friend Naser. Shakiban is a village with 10.000 inhabitants, who mainly live from agriculture.

Many Shakibans also work abroad and support their families in Afghanistan.

Naser works in HELP as head of reintegration department and is responsible for integration of 1.000 returnees per year into their ‘new’ communities and life.

He has a long career in NGO sector, supported by enormous life experience combined with pleasant and sad memories. As so many, he has also lost his brother and father in war(s). Naser is a very open minded, hearted and brave man, who speaks openly about his life and cultural differences. At the same time, he is eager to explore Slovenian and European culture. He has the same questions and some distorted stereotypes about our culture, as majority of us have about Afghani and moreover about Islam.

In Shakiban literally every household lost a family member or suffered consequences of war. They have all endured the long path of coming to terms with lifelong losses and yet remained determined to live. They are struggling for a better life and more importantly for a brighter future for their children.

In Afghanistan, I am once more convinced that quote of Khalil Gibran, who said that ‘out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls’ and that ‘the most massive characters are seared with scars’ is true. Afghans are brave people with strong spirit, who have not lost their will towards live, laughter and daily happiness derived from small things.

I think about this a lot and at the same time wonder what kind of spirit WE have…

In the first week of August, Naser is coming on a study visit in Slovenia for two months. It will be his first journey to Europe. He is full of life and he has many stories to share.

I hope you will follow Naser’s study visit and his stay in Slovenia and try to support our project Afghanistan, in any way you can. Participation at Naser’s events offers you an Afghani perspective of different culture and religion. At the same time it gives you an opportunity to regard your own life in different perspective.

It might even give us gratefulness towards the fact that we live in peace and freedom and empower us to appreciate people and things we have.

Please find more info about Naser’s program at e-mail: dunja.segrt@sloga-platform.org or get in contact with Naser at naser@help-ev.de.

Naser Jan (dear), I wish you safe travel and most welcome in Slovenia,

Tina Nemanič

Me and the Mine story

8th August 2012

My name is Naser I used to live in Zinda Jan district of Heart. I have been for a German NGO Help since 2002. I have worked in western provinces of Afghanistan in difficult security situation. I was thinking that Herat province might be safer than the other provinces of Afghanistan that came to be only a dream.

In Oct 2007 for 6 months I had a job with ISAF but I realized that working for military was even more difficult. Due to the tight rules and security concerns I left the army and returned back to HELP NGO where I felt I was back home.

On the first day of my re-assignment with HELP I was sent down to a project in Sang Bast (a village laying 40km away in the south of Herat province) as a project officer. I had spent my childhood in the neighbouring village of Sang Bast and Taqi Naqi called Shakiban, the area which was effected so much by war. Finally the civil war came to an end not only in my village but to most places in Afghanistan.

Although the international community and the Afghan government claim that they have cleaned up mines and explosive devices from Sang Bast this is not very true.

I thought this area is safe and I can let my men easily work in it. But very soon I realized that my country is still dangerous even in Sang Bast which is close to my own village. I understood that the oppositions, criminals, rubbers, suicide attackers are not the only enemies of Afghans but in addition there are some secret and calm enemies which kill and disable people. They are the explosive devices and the mines left over from the war. Most of the villagers keep the explosive devices in their houses without thinking that they might put their own lives in danger.

My job practically started in Sang Bast (the location where HELP runs a vocational training center for minors and destitute families who returned from Iran and live in Taqi Naqi town).

Soon after the second day of work I was informed by a man called Wakil Ahmad that there is an old Russian chain tank in a distance of 1km from our vocational training center which was left over from the war. The cannon of the tank has got one active bullet inside and it could explode easily because children were playing around it every day. Immediately I went down to the old tank and I saw the active bullet almost going to be exploded with a small shaking or knocking on it.

I took some pictures and collected more details to inform HELP main office in Herat for a solution, but before I finish taking photos from the old tank another child, hardly 10 years old came to me and said: “Hey Mr. Engineer, I know another house. The owner lives in Iran and there are some old explosive device in his house.” (In Afghanistan when you go to a village from a city with an official vehicle the villagers call you “the engineer”.)

I followed the boy and went to the respective house. It was unbelievable the man made a snaffle with mortars for his animals. I took some more photos from the house and locked the gate of the house that the children do not find the chain to enter the house. When I passed the information to country director of HELP Mr. Alfred Horn, we immediately contacted the mine clearing organization UNAMAC that was very close to our office. They sent a Land Impact Assessment Team (LIAT)  the next day at 06:00am.

While I was explaining the explosive devices issues to the LIAT team, another young man called Gul Ahmad came to us and explained that he had buried around 15 mortars in the yard of his house. The LIAT marked the points with the GPS and made their plan. Gul Ahmad was using this house as a stable for his cows and these cows were the only mean of income for Gul Ahmad’s family.

The LIAT team was busy with assessment of the area when another middle age man called Jan Ahmad came with a big bullet on his hands and explained that he also had interred another one at his home with a prospect to sell it one day but he has lost it now! The LIAT team managed to find all the explosive devices marked out by the people of the village and collected them in a safe place for the next day to explode them.

Then the EOD started to dig in Gul Ahmad’s house and they found 14 mortars from his yard, all together they could collect 21 explosive devices.

On the 5th day the EOD team came and took all the explosive devices out of the village. They informed all villagers about it, blocked the accessible roads to Sang Bast and exploded all of these devices.

After all this now I feel that the village is much safer compare to the past, happiness was in the face of every resident of the village. Immediately after the big explosion again children gathered to collect the small metal particles left over from explosion to sell it as second hand metals. To earn some money this is the situation that most of Afghan children suffering and trying to stay alive.

The Regional director of HELP Mr. Alfred Horn appreciated the UNAMAC and OMAR organizations by an appreciation letter personally.

And in addition to all this I feel safer when I see a child walking on the road!!! For now…

Naser Mohammadi