The sounds of laughter fill the house as it should be.
They did their "community profiles" last night. Very interesting -- each presentation was really really well done! The issues that rise to the top are environment, medical, and women's rights. The Balkh girls were all about pre-marriage testing to prevent certain diseases, and the need for vaccinations. Both the Balkh and Kunar guys were most concerned by the wanton cutting of trees, soil erosion and proliferation of trash. And the Kunar girls showed some shocking photos of the violence against women, including trading girls for bad debts, and blaming women for the crimes of others. Unbelievable!
We worked with the girls all together this morning and the Kunar girls are ready to speak out... but still cover up the second a male or a camera is anywhere close. Three are daughters of other active women, and the other two need some gentle coaxing... but that's okay. They will all help each other I hope.
And then, two days later…
We have had some great guests speaking about youth activism, how to meet challenges, how to get the government to listen, etc. And today we went to the Presidential Palace! It was grand... and an amazing experience for the youth -- like a trip to the White House to meet ... well, okay, not Obama... but maybe Joe Biden.
We had a two-hour session with one of the top people during which the participants stood up and talked about their issues. Wow. Can you imagine getting a chance to air all your grievances with some top government person who is actually listening and writing it all down. Even the Kunar girls all covered up stood up and gave their rant. The guy was very moved, and then he told us that he had also had this idea to set up creative youth projects in different provinces, then bringing the groups together and implementing the projects. So he was very happy that we were doing just that.
This Balkh-Kunar collaboration is the first of many in the coming years. Groups from across Afghanistan will come to Kabul and share ideas with group members from a different province, each with their own issues, solutions, history, and culture. Stay posted for more updates from the field!