01 Jan 2014 – Welcome!
I am writing this as time is ticking down the last hours and minutes of 2013. I have been watching TV and clicking through the various channels, unsurprisingly the hot topic of discussion is 2014. I know that it is not a new topic for political and social activists: even this time last year at the very start of 2013, it was 2014 that featured most on traditional and new media outlets, including social networks and blogs.
Watching the news and hearing the discussion brought back memories of a research trip I undertook last year to the field in Parwan as part of AREU’s Social Protection Study. The experience was almost buried in my mind but as ’2014’, ‘people of Afghanistan’, ‘Afghanistan’s situation’, ‘economy’ kept cropping up on the TV programmes playing in the background, I was brought back to the words of one old woman I had met on my trip and her worries about 2014.
It was almost exactly a year ago last January or February 2013 and was my first visit to that community. I was meeting with the women of the village to introduce myself and discuss our aim in visiting their community; explaining the goal of the project.
One of the topics to be discussed was girls’ access to education and livelihood issues. The conversation flowed naturally and we moved on to talk about the skills needed to earn enough money to help themselves and their families. During this interlude, an old woman of about 60 years old said: “Oh my child, I wish our country will be peaceful and calm. It is very necessary for girls to learn something, who knows what will happen to them after 2014.”
I just stopped as I couldn’t say anything for a minute to her, then I asked her that what exactly did she mean by 2014? To which she responded: “I don’t know what it is or what it means, but I am worried about the future and what it holds. Other people in this community are also worried. I don’t know about the government and other things, I just pray that we as a people will not suffer similar times to those we suffered in the past.”
I had heard this worry over “2014” expressed many times from key male community members, but it didn’t as sound shocking or interesting to me. I tried to reassure her, telling her there is nothing to be worried about and encouraging her to be hopeful in pursuing an education and new skills for her daughters. However, despite trying to give her positive thoughts about the future, I myself was also confused.
What does 2014 bring? People are thinking about it as a year of fear and horror, with one friend posting on his facebook wall: “2014 the evil ghost has arrived.”
There are various thoughts, ideas and views for the year 2014, of fear, hope and confusion…For me, I wish a year of success for my country and organisation.
Happy New Year!