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