Home Featured Nadima Noor will continue her humanitarian efforts with Taliban support

Nadima Noor will continue her humanitarian efforts with Taliban support

by Luqmaan Rawat

Nadima Noor, in good spirits, as she appeared on air with Salaamedia’s Mariam Mia

Johannesburg – The love for Afghanistan has not disappeared from Nadima Noor even after spending twenty-three days in captivity. Noor, the Director of Dream Voice Act, an NGO based in Kabul, Afghanistan, showed no signs of despondency. She was hopeful for the future.

Her detention occurred, she says, because she would not leave her guests. The Taliban wanted to question her guests but when she refused to let them do it unless they took her away, they had no option but to take her in as well and question her.

“As a human I did not feel right to just let my guests be taken away for whatever reason while I sat down and watched that happen. I felt responsible. If you’re a guest in my house I’m responsible for you and I will die for you. Even if they were just going to offer them dinner I want to be there. I pushed to go. I insisted and they were like, ‘but we need to take the men’. That’s not going to happen. What am I going to say to their mothers, their wives and their sisters and their brothers and their families? How can I let anybody be taken away from my home while I sit there and watch? You either kill me or take me with you so we can deal with the situation together and that’s exactly what happened, they took me.”

Noor expressed no sadness or hurt when speaking about her captivity. She looked at it as if it was a blessing in disguise. Being in captivity has not changed her mind or made her doubt her decision to not leave Afghanistan when the Taliban re-established their leadership. Instead, she is more determined to carry on her work with the help of the Taliban.

“First, I was alone. I had few people working with me and I was doing my best to reach out to certain communities and organisations but now I have this new government as my brothers to look out for me. Now we have that understanding because of this isolation,” Noor said to Salaamedia’s Mariam Mia in an awaited interview. 

“Now I’m in their head. I am not going to leave. I am here. I’m not going to give up on them because I have a duty as a sister. I have a duty as a human being. I have a duty as a woman of Afghanistan to continue to create positive solutions through unconditional care and now that we have this connection, this understanding, now it’s going to be these very brothers that are in Afghanistan, who are going to protect me, look out for me and help me make sure I move forward for the people of Afghanistan.” 

Difficulties are part of life’s circle, and do not determine the result. Noor has taken her captivity as a strengthening point in her life. She believes that “going inside” only made her stronger and more knowledgeable.

“Going inside gave me the chance to know them, the Taliban. It gave me a chance to understand what’s really happening. I got a chance to meet other women there. I got a chance to experience something that I cannot even buy with a degree. Also coming out and witnessing what’s happening in the world. Now I’m in a position to do something great.”

Noor has described the rebuilding process of Afghanistan as a “birthing process,” while also praising the current government on the work they are doing to restore the country.

“If you are a woman giving birth, I understand there’s going to be a certain amount of pain but at the end she gives birth to a beautiful life and for me I look at this journey as a birthing process. I know it’s going to be not easy but now I’m more confident than ever because this current government got the chance to know me as well.”

Noor was taken along with six colleagues. Her brother, Dastaan Noor said, “There is reason for them to believe that she didn’t have her registered NGO. That could have been a conflict with other ministries. There is reason to believe that [the] government [is] not integrated or not on the same page and that could have been the cause of the arrest of Nadima.”

“To be honest they have the right to go and check on people and verify who is good, bad and ugly. This is how a government is going to build trust between the people. They went and checked all homes, removed illegal weapons. They even found girls that were kidnapped. People didn’t know where to find them,” said Nadima Noor.

Although she has been doing humanitarian work for seven months, her efforts to provide basic needs to families in Afghanistan was less publicised than whether the Taliban are working to empower women. This opened her eyes and forced her to ask an especially important question about what truly matters to people.

“For seven months I was here running around in different villages, talking to elderly, to the Taliban. The evidence is in the media, my channel. Nobody asked me ‘Nadima you’re doing great work and the Taliban seems to be okay with you’. Now that I got detained the world got interested. The question to me is, are we focusing and is our intention to build communities and work truly for humanity and help support widows and orphans or are we just stuck on such an idea that’s killing these people?”

Noor has called on all those who call themselves activists to support her cause and donate aid to her to help those in Afghanistan.

“I’m a woman. I have an organisation here. I am here. I’m available to receive aid, I’m able to distribute, I have security, I have safety. So how are all these women around the world, activists, however title you want to give yourself, how are you joining me to help provide aid for these women that are selling their bodies to survive? That has nothing to do with the government’s recognition. There are different steps but why are we putting everything in one basket? Let’s separate that.”

Noor has called on the men of Afghanistan to protect her, and all women, with honour, dignity, and respect. As an Afghan woman she is without a doubt remaining in her place of birth and will not leave out of fears or persuasions that she is not safe.

“I want the men of this country to stand for me and protect me and demand that nobody disturbs my direction especially for education, health, and cultural entrepreneurship. I am confident that these men will die for women like me because that’s their honour and they will protect women like us, and they will not let anybody just take us out of this country.”

Canada approached Noor to have her evacuated, but she turned them down. Instead, she has invited them to sit down to have open dialogues, hoping to bridge positive change between Afghanistan and Canada. 

Noor describes her captivity as being hosted by the Taliban rather than being a prisoner. There were zero conditions imposed on her, except to “eat, pray, love and relax”. She was not held in isolation nor placed in a locker room.  

“It was a beautiful, lovely place. Very spacious. There was a television room, a nice room with beautiful black leather sofas and glass tables. There was a bed but not a nice bed, one with a thick mattress. We had like a maid that would come every couple of days and clean the space. It’s like being hosted. But not against my will.”

During her captivity, Noor fasted every day. Her Iftar meal consisted of meat and vegetables. They were shocked to learn she was a vegetarian and continued to serve her meat and vegetables in case she changed her mind. Her health concerned them, not allowing her to leave her yoghurt for a few days to turn sour. 

“I like my yoghurt sour so if you keep it for a couple of days you get sour [yoghurt] and then they found out. They sent one of the female workers, like a police officer, and she said ‘you can’t eat this. You’re going to get sick. We’re going to get you fresh [yoghurt]’ and I said no.”

After her release, she was able to meet someone from the Ministry of Internal Affairs who assured her that she could continue her humanitarian work. Noor was grateful for her captivity as it made her understand how those who are innocently imprisoned felt. This unique experience was beneficial to her, she says.

Noor looks forward to open communication between herself and the Afghan government so progress can be made in the country. She is confident the nation will grow.

“I’m confident these brothers of mine are going to help me raise this nation together because we need each other. Who else is going to correct this if it’s not us, the people of Afghanistan? It is only the people of Afghanistan that are going to correct the destruction towards construction. I’m confident in that.” 

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