by David Smith-Ferri
Editor’s Note: American peace activists Kathy Kelly, Jerica Arents and David Smith-Ferri are part of a 3 person delegation currently travelling in Afghanistan. Read Smith-Ferri’s first piece on their experiences here.
Building Bamiyan Peace Park
The city of Bamiyan, with a population of roughly 60,000, has only one paved street, a wide, two-kilometer road without lanes that is a site of constant activity from 5 a.m. to curfew, at 10 p.m., and is referred to as the “Bazaar” because it is lined on both sides with shops.
In our short time here, we’ve been struck by how hard people, both in town and in the outlying villages, have to work to make a meager living. Children clearly work hard, too, seeming to participate fully in the livelihood of the family. At almost anytime of the day they can be seen at all manner of enterprise – helping set up the family street stall early in the morning, riding a donkey to fetch water in five-gallon plastic jugs, helping harvest potatoes, herding sheep or goats, collecting leaves for fuel, washing clothes in a creek, caring for younger siblings; and of course, they also attend school. Their work is as much a part of the landscape as the cottonwood trees and the red-rock cliffs which stand above the rivers.
Having had a chance to talk with members of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (AYPV) and learn something about their significant commitments to home, family, and school, it was with delight and astonishment that we visited Bamiyan Peace Park today with nine proud members of the group and learned about their role in its development and use.