Recently I came back from an Afghanistan trip that I was anticipating for a long time. And now that I have seen it, I cannot wait to get back. Something powerful pulls on me from that land.
On the roads I always boldly stood out of the sunroof and I gazed around as our car sped swift onwards. My mouth was half-open out of wonder and I wasn’t blinking as I took in the beautiful nature, the lush green, the soaring mountains and the roaring river below and the sweet, colorfully-clad children playing by.
I don’t like exaggeration, but I simply cannot leave out the fact that at some points I felt that I was at the gate of heaven, so beautiful the scene ahead was. And all these natural wonders would have been colorless for me were they not brimming with some of the best humans of the world, the brave and the graceful. The defiant men and women who united to kick the communist empire out of their country and they did, and the men and women whose kindness and whose hospitality is what you come across in fairy tales.
Almost every night that I was in Kabul I would go up on the roof and for a while I would watch the city. Kabul looks magical at night. Mountains surround it and there are houses built on them and their lights shine at night and so it looks as though the mountains are studded with a thousand stars! And what I came to realize to the bones during my time in Afghanistan and on that last night on the roof, was that this country has so many stories.
Truth is, earlier that day a bunch of kids swarmed the car that I was in and all their hands were reaching towards me, they had seen the packet of money that was in my hand and that from it I was giving money to one of their friends. The whole thing was so grotesque. But it was also deeply sad. I thought later that night at the roof that each one of those extended hands represented a tragic story of loss, desperation and suffering.
Of course I also went to Mahboba’s Promise orphanages and I came to deeply feel affections for the orphans there, like they were my little brothers and sisters. I was so surprised at first at how quickly they warmed up to me, how joyfully they clung to me and insisted with childish passion that I don’t leave them. But I realized later that it was because they were deprived of love and attention in their own lives, that was the reason why they wanted me to be with them so much.
Afghanistan is a beautiful but bleeding country. That was my experience. 30 years of literally imposed war has devastated a people. But oh how gracious they are! How good they make you feel! And it’s the kind who deserve to be shown kindness the most.
For more information about Mahboba’s Promise activities in Afghanistan refer to the website at www.mahbobaspromise.org or call the office at 02 9887 1665.
Mahdi Housaini has been working as an intern in the Mahboba’s Promise office. He writes about how development has been and should remain a key focus objective for organisations working in Afghanistan.