We’re back in a taxi and heading to visit a woman who has lost two of
her sons during a suicide attack in Kabul. The taxi travels along a
narrow bumpy street. The snow has now turned to compacted ice. I
recognise the area as being close to the Kuchi refugee camp we visited
the day before. The district seems to be a fairly poor residential area
with the common style of modest Afghan housing akin to the two-up
two-down housing found in the north of England.
We exit the taxi and pick our way through a maze of side streets. The
path is a typical Kabul dishevelled path, our partially sighted delegate
Susan is led by one of the youth peace makers- around puddles, over
potholes and into a side door set into a weathered mud wall.
Terrorist attacks are almost daily in Kabul and more often
than not, as per usual, it’s ordinary people who suffer the most.
The two-up, two-down has a small yard with a few chickens stalking
around, a line of washing with kids clothing. We step into a very basic
home, the front room is barely furnished, but for the traditional form
of heating, a stove under a frame covered in blankets. We sit on
cushions around the heater and bury our feet under the warm blankets.
We’re then introduced to Rohila, a woman in her early forties. She sits
down opposite us and also tucks her feet under the communal blanket. She
ushers her small children to sit with her. A girl aged 11 and a small
boy aged 7, they huddle in close to her, she wraps her arms tightly
Her face carries creases of fear, worry and depression, her body seems
enveloped with tiredness. She starts her story.
The incident happened 2 years ago, her teenage sons aged 14 and 15 were
walking home from school. Usually they would make their way back from
school separately and at different times, but for some reason that day
they were walking home together.
For some unexplained reason there was a military tank on the roadside
where they were walking. At the same time the boys passed the tank a
suicide bomber drove a car into the tank causing it to flip over and
kill 12 people. The official story reported 2 deaths. Rohila describes the day:
“The explosion was so strong that we felt the vibrations in the house.”
Since the incident she has become too afraid to let her other two children
go to school. Her daughter Shazia says she wants to become a teacher and
her son Roshot aspires to be a doctor. Neither have gone to school in
the last year.
Rohila’s mourning face describes her feelings: “I’ve spent so much of my
life bringing up my sons, now I don’t know if I’m alive or not, I don’t
know if it is day or night. Every time I pass a grave my heart breaks, I
don’t know why this has happened, war hasn’t ended. Maybe god has bought
this on us. Inshallah the foreign forces will stop the war”
By a strange coincidence one of the peace volunteers had lost his cousin
in the same incident. He sat opposite Rohila and talked with intense
seriousness about his cousin’s death. However, unlike Rohila, he doesn’t
feel the responsibility for the war ending rests with foreign forces. Instead he concludes:
“If the foreign military leaves Afghanistan that may stop some terrorist bombing, but we have the problem that other neighbouring foreign countries are also fuelling violence in the country.”
“People who commit suicide bombing have lost some of their family members and they want revenge for their anger, for example drones kills a family, some say: we don’t have anything for life because I lost all of my family, I don’t have a meaning for life anymore. The political leaders have lost empathy with the people, they don’t feel their sadness.”
He ends his thoughts by summarizing:
“War creates more war, it doesn’t
stop the violence.”