Our Journey to Smile

Afghan peace needs a human face VI : Zahra an Afghan girl speaks, rather nervously‎

zahra speaks

You can write to Zahra at journeytosmile@gmail.com

Do you commonly hear and see a young Afghan girl speaking?

We have been trying to give voice to the ordinary Afghan girl. We are grateful to Zahra for her humble and dignified words.

Zahra an Afghan girl speaks, rather nervously


In the Name of God the Forgiver

Peace to all friends in all corners of the world

Peace. Without peace, there won’t be any kind of happiness on earth.

Peace is a desired condition that makes possible an inner life of rest.

In your opinion, is peace possible in Afghanistan?


Who can bring peace to Afghanistan?

The youth and people of Afghanistan.

What message of peace do you have for youth in other parts of the world?

My message is: everyone in the world should be peace-loving & be committed to work for peace and a world that’s peaceful.

Zahra the Afghan girl speaks for peace!

Note : Afghanistan has the second highest rate of maternal mortality in the world, after Niger. 1,600 out of every 100,000 pregnant women die in Afghanistan each year because of poor health facilities.


Afghan peace needs a human face I toV : Thanks from Afghan faces of peace Abdulai, Raziq, ‎Aziz and Shir Ali

thanks from Abdulaithanks from Abdulai

On behalf of our Afghan friends, thank you so much for encouraging them with your emails.

Please watch them say their heartfelt thanks.


Abdulai : Thank you for sending the letters

Raziq : Thank you for your emails.

Aziz : Thanks for the emails you sent.

Shir Ali : Thank you for sending me letters. Made me happy!

تشکر!  Thanks!

What you’ve done for them is invaluable.

Because though these ‘forgotten’ friends don’t expect anyone to think about them, they yearn to be remembered.

Because though peace is ‘an elusive exasperation’ when war is all around, Afghans long for those quiet and warm connections that make us human.

I’ve posted some of these wonderful ‘connections’ below.

We ask for your understanding as we always need time to get replies from our Afghan friends; they do not have internet access or computers and no easy access to electricity.

abdulai and seedlings

Abdulai growing some seedlings in used tyres

Dear Abdulai,

I really enjoyed your video and all the videos from Our Journey To Smile. I am 14 years old from the United States and on our news channels they never show any of Afghanistan’s children speaking. This is the first time I have heard voices of the Afghan people and seen the beauty of Afghanistan. Someday, I wish I can travel to Bamiyan to see the beautiful place in these videos. Please keep smiling and never give up your hope, because all youth are the future of the world.

Peace be with you.


Dear Elisa,

I was very happy to receive your letter.

Thank you for enjoying the video.

I am about 13 years old. Afghan children, like myself, don’t know their dates of birth.

I hope that you will come to visit me in Bamiyan. I will serve you some black tea. J

Take care and God bless you.


raziq his brother and flowers

Raziq with his brother and beloved flowers

Dear Raziq,

Oh that everyone in the world were friends. War is bad and we hate to hear of people in Afghanistan suffering because of war. Flowers make me happy. When I look at a flower I thank God for the beauty of creation. I love growing flowers and vegetables.

Your friend,

John Broadbent

Dear John,

Thank you for your email.

Where are you from? I am very happy to have a new friend!

I planted cauliflowers, onions, turnips, radish, cabbages and flowers this year.

God bless and take care.

Hope to see you someday.


Aziz through the trees

Aziz through the trees

Afghans are undefeatable because they are very special

Rashida B Syed

Hello Rashida,

Thank you very much.


Aziz in Afghanistan

Shir Ali in the cold

Shir Ali in the cold

I find responses like these from everyday Afghani’s to inspirational and uplifint :] It feels my soul with happiness and hope.

Tali Sakamoto

Dear Tali Sakamoto,

Thank you. I am happy that you saw my video. I wish you peace.

Shir Ali in Afghanistan

Afghan peace needs a human face V: Shir Ali the Afghan human person speaks‎

Shir Ali's meaning of life

Please watch Shir Ali the Afghan human person speak


Shir Ali, in your opinion, is peace possible in Afghanistan?

In my personal opinion, perhaps.

Perhaps?What percentage chance? 80% chance of peace

But you are 20% doubtful?

Yes, I’m 20% doubtful.

Why? I’m 20% doubtful about peace cos foreign countries transgress our country.

If they don’t transgress, if they truly serve with compassion, there’d be another 20% chance of peace

But they transgress & won’t allow another 20% chance for peace in Afghanistan

What does life mean to you?

Life is love.

So, love is important to you?

Yes, love is very important.

Why is love important?

We can, with peace, be friends of all, regardless with whom

80% chance of peace in a life that finds meaning in love

Afghan peace needs a human face III : Aziz the Afghan human person speaks

Aziz next to Balcksmith River

Aziz next to the Blacksmith River

Please watch Aziz the Afghan human person speak http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEzk4knM_WY

Salam ( peace ), Hakim.

Aziz, where do you live?

In Bamiyan, Blacksmith Village.

What’s the river behind you?

It’s the Blacksmith River.

Do you fish here?


Do most people in Afghanistan like war?

No, all are keen to have peace.

In my opinion, we want peace. We do not want war.

Why? Because war brings misfortune to people and society.

When asked what his wish in life was,

Aziz had said “ I wish to love people.”

Abdulai the mountain boy

Abdulai the mountain boy

Raziq works

Raziq works

Aziz loves sheep

Aziz loves people and sheep

Do Abdulai, Raziq, Aziz and other humans matter at all in war?

The purchasing power of peace BBC News 4/6/09

Defence companies, whose main task is to aid governments’ efforts to defend or acquire territory, routinely highlight their capacity to contribute to economic growth and to provide employment.

Defence spending 2008

US $374bn

Asia $173bn

European Nato members $144bn

Source : International Institute for Strategic Studies

António Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, has been UN High Commissioner for Refugees since 2005. Al Jazeera News 20/6/09

The number of people forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution worldwide stands at more than 42 million.

Major countries of origin for refugees included Afghanistan (2.8 million) and Iraq (1.9 million), which together account for 45 per cent of all UNHCR refugees.

Just as the international community felt an obligation to spend hundreds of billions rescuing the international financial system, it should feel the same urgency to rescue some of the most vulnerable people on earth – refugees and the internally displaced.

And the amount needed is only a fraction of that spent on financial bailouts.

US admits Afghan airstrike orders BBC News 20/6/09

Failure by US forces to follow their own rules was the “likely” cause of civilian deaths in Afghan airstrikes last month, a US military report says.

Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse BBC News 24/6/09

Allegations of abuse and neglect at a US detention facility in Afghanistan have been uncovered by the BBC.

Former detainees have alleged they were beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened with dogs at the Bagram military base.

Interview with Marjorie Cohn, National Lawyers Guild president and Thomas Jefferson School of Law professor Marjorie Cohn, Truth Out 22/6/09

I have testified as an expert witness in military hearings on the illegality of today’s wars.

There is a duty to obey a lawful order, but also a duty to disobey an unlawful order.

An order to deploy to an illegal war is an unlawful order, so it is lawful to resist the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Afghan peace needs a human face II : Raziq the Afghan human person speaks

the afghan human face of Raziq

Watch Raziq the Afghan human person speak


Raziq the Afghan human person speaks

Come…eh nah (okay)…like this?

Good morning!

Good morning!

Raziq, where did you flee to during the war?

Punjab(another district).

What did you learn from the war?

Nothing….war is bad.

What makes you happy in life?

Flowers and friendship…

Like this flower.

What message of friendship do you have for youth in other parts of the world?

Everyone in the world should become friends.

Everyone in the world should become friends.

The Afghan human face of Raziq speaks.

Raziq likes flowers

Afghan peace needs a Human Face : Abdulai the Afghan human person speaks‎

the afghan human face of abdulai

Abdulai the Afghan human person speaks

Afghan peace needs a human face.

Watch Abdulai the Afghan human person speak


Good morning, Abdulai. Good morning.

Abdulai, do you know your date of birth?

No, I don’t know.

Where do you live?

In Afghanistan, Bamiyan

What do you do?

I’m a student, a farmer and a shopkeeper.

What do you wish for in your life?

I wish for…truth and love.

Do you think you can find love and truth in your life?

I don’t know.

The Afghan human face of Abdulai speaks.

Afghan boy Abdulai and dignity

Afghan boy Abdulai and dignity

An Afghan human face that grows.

An Afghan human face that grieves.

An Afghan human face that forgives.

An Afghan human face that is kind.

An Afghan human face that struggles.

Do we think of the ordinary Afghan person as peace-loving?

We probably don’t. Why would we?

We don’t know any Afghan citizen living in his/her own home in Afghanistan and we cannot even remotely relate to a genuine Afghan public face of peace.

Mainstream media isn’t interested in the concerns and wishes of the Afghan majority because the majority is ‘ordinarily boring’ and ‘ordinary people’ don’t sell.

So, if 13 year old Abdulai wishes for ordinary love, joy or peace, or if he grieves over ordinary life and death, he might as well be a fictional character. After all, the only Afghan characters we hear of nowadays are ‘terrorists’.

But Abdulai is all flesh-and-blood next to me. Even then, if his wishes or his life gets snuffed out in this ‘dismantle-the-safe-havens-of-Afghanistan war’, it needn’t affect us. Because WE are ‘safe’.

It certainly didn’t affect the 91 US Senate members who voted ‘yes’ (against the 5 ‘no-s’) to a US$106 billion emergency spending bill to expand the war in Afghanistan and to continue the war in Iraq.

This unwilling de-humanization of others and the willful de-personalization of individuals finds ‘democratic sanction’ whenever fellow humans vote for war. The vote to kill.

How can Abdulai understand why people would vote to get rid of another human person? And oh, so much money.

Wage war with Afghans, Palestinians etc……destroy them, kill them in the unbelievable name of ‘democracy, religion or private security’.

In this way, the world’s public spaces have been filled with a grievous culture of hate and disappointment, leaving the ordinary and majority voices of peace in a vacuum. Unheard and un-regarded. Dead sound waves.

We choose to forget that even the most difficult persons, including the supposedly ‘difficult’, ‘wrong’, and ‘evil’ millions in Afghanistan, are born in places and circumstances not by their own conscientious vote. Abdulai certainly didn’t vote to send those planes into the New York Twin Towers.

So, I start today to bring you individual Afghan human faces of peace.

And I pray, not to God but to you, that the private space within your heart and the human soul embracing your mind, would give ordinary Afghans the Public Space and the Human Face which they and our world so desperately needs.

Or we could remain in the vacuum. And keep voting for ourselves.

I’ll begin with Abdulai.