Browsing articles by " Hameed"

Team Work

Feb 4, 2012   //   by Hameed   //   culture, photos, Poverty  //  No Comments

Photo credit: Najib Bismil

Peo­ple in rural Afghanistan build their mud houses with thick and high walls, Qalla. They usu­ally tie two or more lad­ders together to pass the mud to the mason.

The Irrepressible Pashtun Sense of Humor

Feb 4, 2012   //   by Hameed   //   culture, links, Pashto Proverbs, Poverty, Tea with a Wise Afghan Man  //  No Comments

Pash­tuns like to have a very loose sched­ule. We spend a lot of time trad­ing jokes with other ‘com­rades’, espe­cially if there is green tea and a nice lit­tle Hujra(guest room). No mat­ter how sad or trou­bled we are, we make fun of the mis­ery and laugh about it.

Inter­est­ing read in Dawn: The Irre­press­ible Sense of Humor of the Pashtoons

Part of the article:

Where is Com­rade Amin, our first Social­ist Leader?’
‘He’s dead, Comrade.’

And where, Com­rade Infor­ma­tion offi­cer is Com­rade Tariki, our sec­ond Social­ist Leader?’
‘He’s dead, too, Comrade.’

And our fra­ter­nal Russ­ian KGB Chief, Gen­eral Vik­tor Paputin?’
‘Dead. But why are you ask­ing all these questions?’

Because, Com­rade, I do so enjoy hear­ing the answers.’

Open Source Map for Nangarhar

Jan 24, 2012   //   by Hameed   //   Culture and Tech, videos  //  4 Comments

Jalala­good Geek Squad worked on this open source map of Nan­garhar for about seven months start­ing from June 2011.

I am not brag­ging but Jalal­abad is the most detailed city on open street map. A lot of aid work­ers and those who are new in town use this open source map to get around in Nan­garhar. If you are using it on a smart phone it has nav­i­ga­tion as well. NGOs and health work­ers use it to plan their human­i­tar­ian projects. Jalal­abad city on Open­StreetMap.

If you go into dis­trict level map and zoom in, you can see details of any dis­trict. We are plan­ning to cre­ate open source maps for as many provinces in the coun­try as pos­si­ble. We are cur­rently look­ing into ways to fund this project in the next province. We will have a very detailed map of the whole coun­try some day, Inshal­lah. One map at a time!

A “Step Backwards” for America in Afghanistan

Jan 17, 2012   //   by Hameed   //   Human Rights, links, military  //  1 Comment

A video posted online last week show­ing US Marines uri­nat­ing on the corpses of unknown Afghans was truly deplorable.

Asia Times Article

On the Hunt for Mullah Omar

Jan 17, 2012   //   by Hameed   //   links  //  No Comments

Amer­ica has been try­ing to hunt the leader of the Tal­iban, Mul­lah Omar for over a decade now. Unsuc­cess­ful to get him, it wants to nego­ti­ate with the Tal­iban.
Where is he?
What does he look like?
New Yorker Arti­cle: Look­ing for Mul­lah Omar

Malala Was Inspired by Her Great Leaders

Jan 17, 2012   //   by Hameed   //   Children in Conflict, Human Rights, links, Peace, Women in Conflict  //  No Comments

Malala is a 14-year-old coura­geous Pak­istani who has chal­lenged the local Tal­iban that she’d do the oppo­site of what they’re doing. They destroy schools and Malala who was inspired by her great lead­ers, will spread edu­ca­tion in Pak­istan by set­ting up Malala Edu­ca­tion Foun­da­tion. Read the mul­ti­ple prizes winner’s inspir­ing story here.

Google Contractor Accused of Vandalizing OpenStreetMap

Jan 17, 2012   //   by Hameed   //   Culture and Tech, Human Rights  //  No Comments

Busted! Some­times, when they try to win the com­pe­ti­tion they com­mit crimes against human­ity. Mil­lions of peo­ple use the open source maps of Open Street Map for human­i­tar­ian projects. For full story, link here.

Our Journey to Smile

Jan 11, 2012   //   by Hameed   //   Peace  //  No Comments

Ali, Faiz and Abdu­lai are three young and ener­getic Afghan peace vol­un­teers. They are tak­ing their jour­ney in India this time under, “What would Ghandhi say to Afghan youth today?”

Read what the three young­sters expe­ri­enced for the first time in life:
First time on plane
First time above clouds
First time hav­ing pineap­ples
First time on ele­va­tor, trav­e­la­tor
First time using stand­ing uri­nal and auto­matic sink-tap
First time in a big city that’s green ( Delhi )

Read full story here.

Electricity in Nangarhar

Jan 11, 2012   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  2 Comments

There is very lit­tle elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated by Darunta Dam which is divided between the cor­rupt offi­cials and a few hos­pi­tals and gov­ern­ment offices in Jalal­abad.
House­holds in Jalal­abad buy elec­tric­ity from these expen­sive com­mu­nity gen­er­a­tors: $1.25/KW. Most fam­i­lies do not use heaters or air con­di­tion­ers or any­thing that use a lot of elec­tric­ity to save on bills at the end of the month. One gen­er­a­tor pow­ers about 60 house­holds. These are pri­vate busi­nesses and there are no reg­u­la­tions from the gov­ern­ment and the busi­ness own­ers can charge peo­ple how­ever much they want.

Peo­ple mainly use it for lights and watch­ing TV. In hot sum­mer of Jalal­abad, there is no way peo­ple can save by not run­ning fans. Peo­ple save up for the three really really hot months of sum­mer when they’re run­ning up the bill. Some peo­ple use another trick: If there is a gov­ern­ment offi­cial who lives on their neigh­bor­hood and their power cable goes by their house, they would steal their elec­tric­ity. It ain’t good if they find out. They have to take chances. The term use for steal­ing elec­tric­ity is ‘Changak’ which lit­er­ally means ‘secret con­nec­tion’. Some fam­i­lies make a one-time big expense (if they can afford it) and get solar power sys­tem for their house­hold.

Com­mu­nity gen­er­a­tors are more com­mon in rural areas of Afghanistan. In some areas where peo­ple do not have cash to pay, they give them wheat, rice or any other crops for the amount of elec­tric­ity they’ve used in a cer­tain period of time. Some­times there is a set prices. Every­one for exam­ples pays $20/month. Con­di­tions apply. An exam­ple con­di­tion would be, every cus­tomer should use 25 watts energy effi­cient flu­o­res­cent lights.

The World from Under my Mom’s Burqa

Jan 10, 2012   //   by Hameed   //   Human Rights, Women in Conflict  //  4 Comments

Hav­ing seen my mom wear a burqa to school and out­side home for sev­eral years, I wanted to see how it feels to wear one. I took my mom’s ‘mobile jail’ and put myself in it for a minute. I felt so bored and depressed. Every­thing seemed blurry and I had no periph­eral vision for that one minute. I felt dizzy when I took it off. Then I gave my mom a very long hug to show my sympathy.

The world from under my mom’s burqa:

Burqa and Its His­tory
Worn by women in some Islamic soci­eties burqa is an envelop­ing gar­ment that has a small eye grid through which women can see. It cov­ers them from head to toes. They wear it when they go out of home.

Cloth­ing that is rec­om­mended to Mus­lim women in Islam is called
hijab. Hijab cov­ers a woman’s arms, legs, chest and hair. By cov­er­ing her “beau­ties” (as referred to in Islam) a woman main­tains her mod­esty. These parts of a woman’s body should be viewed by her hus­band only. Burqa is a stricter ver­sion of the cloth­ing that Islam rec­om­mends for women.


Photo credit: Chesi-Foto CC

Women in Pak­istan have been wear­ing burqa for over 400 years. “In Pak­istan, women are told that men are wolves and women are sheep.” Quoted from this arti­cle. A sim­i­lar per­cep­tion exists in Afghanistan. Since men and women are taught this from a very young age, most men do act like wolves and women as sheep.

Photo by Lauras Eye

Burqa in Afghanistan
Burqa has been part of the Afghan cul­ture for 200 years. How­ever, it’s been more com­mon and strict in cer­tain times. Under the Tal­iban regime, women in Afghanistan were forced to wear a burqa. A lot of fam­i­lies could not afford it as it was expen­sive. More time, effort and mate­r­ial is used to make a burqa. One burqa costs $10-$14 in Afghanistan. Some women wore a chador, which is made out of a large rec­tan­gle of cloth. Wrapped around most of a woman’s body, a Chador is pulled across face with a lit­tle open­ing for eyes.

The Tal­iban did not restrict women’s cloth­ing only but they also required all men to wear a white hat, keep their hair short and leave their beards long.
After the Taliban’s regime, most women in large cities of Afghanistan grad­u­ally switched to Chador. Chador is a bit more com­fort­able than burqa. More than ten years after the fall of Tal­iban, a lot of women still wear a burqa. In spite of all these lay­ers that they wear, a male mem­ber of the fam­ily escorts women when they go out of their homes. It’s a lot more com­mon in rural areas where most of the pop­u­la­tion is une­d­u­cated. There, women look at their hus­bands as their own­ers. Some men won’t allow their women to have a photo on their voter’s ID card. A male mem­ber of their fam­ily brings their card home for them for a fingerprint.


How beau­ti­ful in this?

In Afghanistan, there is a sense that the extrem­ists are watch­ing every­thing you do. In many parts of the coun­try, there is a con­stant fear that the Tal­iban would retal­i­ate against women who do not wear“modest clothes”. The Tal­iban poured acid at a group of girls’ faces as they were on their way to school in Kan­da­har. These stu­dents were wear­ing descent clothes but they were not burqas.

Besides the Tal­iban, some women feel uncom­fort­able not wear­ing it because the rest of the com­mu­nity would judge them. For exam­ple, my mom, though she is OK with my other sis­ters not wear­ing a burqa, she wears it herself.

Why a burqa can­not pro­tect women or even prove mod­esty?
Do all these lay­ers and escorts really pro­tect women from other men or does that iso­late and degrade them?
Toes and ankles are the only parts of a woman under a burqa that you can see. Even then some men would still try haul­ing insults at them as they walk by.

My uncle in Pak­istan was try­ing to flirt with a girl under a burqa he described as sexy. She went ahead and acted sug­ges­tively before him. He com­pli­mented on her nail pol­ish. After an hour of flirt­ing, the “sexy girl” inched closer to him and gen­tly tossed back her burqa over her head.
My uncle blushed and hid his face with his hands when he saw his forty some­thing years old cousin stand­ing in front of her. He was extremely embar­rassed. Then my aunt went on shar­ing the tale with the rest of the fam­ily and rel­a­tives.
A burqa nei­ther pro­tects women from other men, it only iso­lates and degrades them, nor is it a proof of mod­esty. Not to say that it pre­vents them from enjoy­ing a nice breeze.

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