by Johnny Barber
Today in Afghanistan people feel an unnamable horror lurking just below the surface of their everyday lives. It has been described as a tension, a feeling of pressing apprehension, as if a breaking point is about to be breached. People wake each day with this feeling; it accompanies them through their dreams each night.
Driving through the streets of Kabul I watch people set about their business deliberately. There is little laughter, the absence of joy as palpable as the heavy brown dust swirling through the streets choking off the sun.
We turn down a pock marked dirt road. Reminded of a video game my son used to love, we swerve from side to side to miss as many obstacles as possible, including oncoming traffic of all varieties, crashing through spine-jarring potholes with regularity. We spot the large pink building behind a huge steel gate. The guard points to a door and tells us to call inside.
We have arrived at the New Learning Center, a school serving the children of Afghanistan. It was founded and directed by Andeisha Farid, a young Afghan woman, who was herself a displaced person during the Soviet war and grew up in refugee camps in Iran and Pakistan. Andeisha had one simple idea. If she could help one child, that child would return to her family and influence the family. In turn, the family would influence the village, the village would influence the province, the province would influence the country. This simple idea has turned into 11 orphanages, serving 700 children, and the New Learning Center, newly opened in May 2011.