Which Side Are We On?

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“On the one side, powerful military bureaucracies, influential and richly financed weapons industries, their lobbies, their captive legislators, those for whom paranoia or past wars are a way of life. On the other side, only reason, the will to survive, the inarticulate poor — John Kenneth Galbraith, forward to the 1978 edition of Ruth Sivard’s World Military and Social Expenditures, quoted in the NYT obituary for Ruth Sivard

KABUL — Here at the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ Borderfree Center, between morning and afternoon Street Kids School sessions, I asked several of the volunteer teachers how they felt about organizing the school and teaching weekly language, math and nonviolence classes.

“Now we have 100 students,” Zekerullah said. “I feel happy because I see how they change after spending time here.” When he first met some of the children, all of whom work on the streets as child laborers, ideas of washing up, dressing for school, bringing completed homework to classes, and being part of a community that cares deeply about them might have seemed remote or even unimaginable. Many who live in refugee camps get caught up in wild behavior, and hard work on the streets further toughens them.

The children seem exuberantly happy during the Friday classes. They care for and respect each other. And their eyes light up when they see their teachers, all of whom are students in secondary schools or Universities in Kabul.

“Many of the children come from one room, mud homes inside refugee camps,” said Hamida. “They have no safe place to store their notebooks and school supplies. But still they try hard to prepare for classes.”

 

 

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