A few months back a skype conversation with one of my dear friends about social work in child protection led to me creating and facilitating a training on the role of social work and psychosocial support in Child Protection projects. So for the last 5 days I have been in Kabul, Afghanistan doing a training for a room full of Afghani social workers – men and women working on child labour, child abuse, juvenile justice = child protection. It has been exciting, challenging and intense to say the least. It has been empowering too. I have a renewed motivation towards social work, social justice and human rights. I come away so much stronger in my convictions and in my drive to work for a more just society.
So much respect for the Afghan women social workers I met, breaking barriers and fighting social prejudices every single day, living revolutionary lives, empowering other women and bringing shifts in perspectives. I feel a solidarity with women in social work that is uncomparable. They are the people I respect the most. 5 days of talking about difficult situations, complex issues and personal stories is enough to make me pack my bags and live here forever working with these women I met. Not to mention the fact that India has just voted in Modi – the urge to run away to another country is so strong! The idea of working in Afghanistan sounds quite good to me. I have lived in Gujarat under Modi long enough to know that the Gujarat model applied to India means erasing diversity and celebrating homogeneity as development, not to mention the low priority of environmental concerns and social development. All driving principles of my life minimised in the name of development and security (whatever that means)!!
Back to Kabul and its snow-capped mountains, brown mud houses on hilly slopes, rose plants with huge pink, yellow and orange roses, pink cheeked children, tall fir trees, giggling school going girls in uniforms, young boys on bicycles, women walking busily, men in turbans and beautiful coats chatting. As opposed to what you may think, Kabul seems calm, people go about their daily business like everywhere else. Yes there is high concentration of army and police but surely less than in Indian Kashmir. This is not to minimise the complex conflict and violence that has affected the country for several decades, that is still adding numbers to vulnerable populations in the country every single day and the serious challenges of the governement and NGOs in addressing several of these issues. But it is certainly a place where life goes on.
I am indebted to my friend for this oppurtunity to come to Afghanistan and interact with the social workers and be a part of intense discussions about personal values and human rights, something that should be a part of school curriculum world wide in my opinion. It is an experience I will remember for a long time to come. I am glad to have been a witness to Afghanistan as it is today and I definitely want to come back another day.