A general question: “When you think of Afghanistan, what first comes to your mind?”
And of course interestingly, and surprisingly a ‘general answer’: “War”
“Uff! Okay, so tell me what else comes to your mind beside WAR?”
“Hm! Suffering, death, women wearing long, big burqas and who are not allowed to do anything, ill children, and Yeah Taliban.”
Then I asked her about how she expected me to be at the first she met me.
“Well, frankly, I thought you will also wear long big burqa and the only thing I can see in you is your two eyes……” she said.
This was a dialogue between me and one of my friends, but similarly almost all other international friends have given me the same answer.
I strongly believe that media has a great influence on our daily thoughts and daily way of living. And so it has had a great influence on the ideas shaped about Afghanistan in every individual’s mind. Media, besides accomplishing its own responsibility: reaching the news to everyone in each corner of the world has also made Afghanistan as a ‘nightmare’ for everyone. The quotation below from a news website (whose name I don’t want to mention) can show you a ‘nightmare’ just right at the moment of your reading this article.
“When you think Afghanistan Imagine, Where 20 years of war has totally crippled the economy, (…) where hundreds of thousands of people are maimed, disabled, or blind because of war and land mines. Where you face a high chance of becoming blind or crippled because of the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables, causing vitamin deficiency. If you are blind or crippled, no one can help you because those that are not blind or crippled need help as well.”I strongly believe this is to some extent wrong. Economy is getting improved through the foreign aid, improving the export products such as fresh fruit, dry fruit, rugs, hard works of people, and so on. Government has already initiated land mine cleaning projects to clean country from land mines. In fact, as I mentioned earlier one of Afghanistan’s main exports is fresh fruit, and so it shows the conception of ‘lack of fresh fruit and vegetables’ is wrong. People with ability to improve are improving their situations, but as there is a great sense of harmony, and condolence among Afghans, people with ability do, in fact, help others improve as well. Even if you try to Google about Afghanistan, the list of the options which will appear in your Google search bar are firstly: Afghanistan war, news, weather, map, casualties and so on. What most of the people might get from searching in this site would be that Afghanistan is a country with no positive things at all, but just negative. I remember the impactful, magical, and truthful words of Mr. Hans Rosling, the director of the Gapminder Foundation, who said, “Why should we still be afraid of Afghanistan and think of it as a place of war when we already know that at least normal life is going on there?” This is in fact the truth which is clear but is ignored by us, humans of the world. I am an Afghan and I know that I have lived there normal; I had a normal life there; and still I am here to be a first hand evidence to all. The place where I lived in Afghanistan is a beautiful place, with all smiley, loving and hard working people who are living their lives normally and are truly thinking to improve their beloved country. Afghanistan is a beautiful country with kind, hospitable, and trustful people. It is a country with a rich culture, beautiful weather, diverse type of fresh fruits such as watermelon, pomegranate, grapes, melon, strawberry, and many more, people are respectful to each other, and importantly there has been a continuous fast improvement in each corner of it. Afghan students get scholarship outside the country in order to have international education AND do change the misconception of foreign people about Afghanistan as we Afghan female students do here in our university.
The website “Good Afghan News” website, which has the slogan, “Afghan News That Will Make You Happy” is a website which gives good news about Afghanistan. This is how we can change Afghanistan: encouraging Afghan migrants around the world through making them hear about the positive side besides mentioning about the negative news. Let’s change this idea, and make a better understanding of Afghanistan as same as other regions of the world by both sharing, and searching the positive events besides showing and condemning the negative ones.
The link to the Good Afghan News website: (http://www.goodafghannews.com/)
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future 2011 Assignment: Op-Eds.