By Hakim , RootsAction.org
Note: Hakim is a mentor and friend of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. He applied for a visa to enter the United States so that he could accompany Afghan Peace Volunteers Ali and Abdulhai as participants in the Caravan for Peace. Support for Ali and Abdulhai as they prepare for an interview with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, seeking a Non-Immigrant Visa, can be shown by visiting Roots Action and signing a letter which describes the many reasons why Ali and Abdulhai will want to return to their families, school work, and community formation in Kabul following a ten day visit to the United States.
I am grateful that the U.S. officials at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore considered my visa re-application in the light of the surprising write-in campaign on my behalf, and have kindly granted me a U.S. visit visa.
Border officials living in today's fearful world of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing from wars have a tough time.
I empathize with them and know that many do their administrative best to prevent visitors from over-staying in their countries, while being open to the genuine student, visitor or businessman.
The human race has a challenge.
How do we build face-to-face international relations for peace and justice while understanding immigration concerns?
I've been privileged to meet the Afghan Peace Volunteers and their families and to have been changed by their humanity. While impoverished and voiceless in the current global systems, they have shown me that with just a little encouragement, relationships within and outside of Afghanistan can be built.
The Afghan Peace Volunteers wanted so much to connect with other human voices that a growing number of peacemakers and I helped them to organize an international program called the "Global Days of Listening.' In their hunger to find friends, these Afghan youth changed my life.
After losing his father to war, Abdulhai has been struggling to find forgiveness. He understands very logically that it's better not to seek revenge in order not to risk losing his beloved mother or other family members in endless cycles of vengeance. "I can't imagine losing my mum ; she's my everything."
At a peace and justice meeting in Kabul in 2011, Ali and Abdulhai, both 15 years old, had bravely stood up to describe their journey. Abdulhai said, "I don't want to take revenge. It doesn't solve the problem." Ali added, "We Afghans say that "Blood cannot wash away blood.'"
Unfortunately, an Afghan elder at the meeting became furious, and angrily retorted, "You are young and have no experience. How can you say what you said? What we must do is to bring all the perpetrators of crime to justice. We cannot forgive them." Later, over a dinner meal, this elder approached me to "berate' Ali and Abdulhai for "supporting the Taliban' in "forgiving' them. "Abdulhai lost his father in the war," I suggested. " How can a human being "support' his father's killers? He doesn't support them. He wants to forgive them."
I was shocked at the elder's reply, "Then, I wish the Taliban had killed Abdulhai too! Don't bring these kids to Kabul again."
I've not only brought Abdulhai and Ali to many meetings in Kabul, they have also switched to schooling in Kabul so they can continue to build relationships with fellow Afghan youth (68% of the Afghan population is below 25 years of age ).
Abdulhai, Ali and me ( 2nd, 3rd and 4th from left )