Constitutional Hill – The Constitutional Hill in Braamfontein played host to Afghan humanitarian aid worker and founder of Dream Voice Act NGO Nadima. She is currently on tour of South Africa with the intention of raising awareness of Afghanistan and dispelling the misinformation often seen in mainstream media.
Despite the labels of backwardness and being in the stone age, Afghanistan is a powerhouse. A powerhouse that has seen 42 years of invasion, war, and occupation. The Afghan people know nothing but war and hardship. Nadima started off the press briefing by having a minute of silence in remembrance of all those who suffered at the women prison.
Nadima has chosen to go by a singular name to show that “a woman, a mother still matters even if her husband is dead. It does not mean she has to marry her brother-in-law”. It is also to show solidarity with the widowed Afghan women.
Visiting Afghanistan for business and creating trade
Afghanistan is often portrayed in mainstream media as a country has not much to offer in terms of trade and luxury. Afghanistan is a country rich in natural resources. Nadima explained there is a lot of trade that can take place between Afghanistan and South Africa.
“There are so many opportunities for trading. I pray that the South African businessmen and businesswomen will come and trade with us. We have saffron, pine nuts, pistachio, almonds, we have amazing pomegranates and seventy-five types of grapes. The current government is encouraging trade and getting out of this begging system.”
Trade is a vital part for Afghanistan to get out of what Nadima calls a begging system. She believes that Afghan people have relied on aid for far too long and it is nothing but a scam. Afghanistan is far from being a poor country or being anything close to what is being depicted in the mainstream media.
The issue of education
Women’s education has been at the forefront of any discussion about Afghanistan. It has been used as a means to block aid, stop trade, and impose sanctions. Nadima is not against educating the youth, but it must be done in a way that doesn’t destroy the independence of a person.
“We claim we are independent because we are in these jobs. What about home food? How are we going to create healthy children? How are we going to keep the tradition and the healthy meals? For me, I feel that in Afghanistan to come to my country and strip away what we cherish and is natural to us and you justify it in the name of education? I don’t want that education in my country.”
There have been criticisms levelled against Afghanistan for not allowing girls to get an education. Every talk about Afghanistan seems to revolve around this one issue. While many people are focused on women’s education, there are bigger problems that are being missed, explained Nadima.
“People are constantly attacking me about women’s education … Afghanistan is no longer going to be the punching bag for the world. The effort that is being put in by the new government is not being announced around the world … If the world is so concerned with women’s education, then why don’t they tell me how much it costs to take a young child to school?”
While there are parents who want to send their children to school, it is a costly expense. Many families have just one parent and sometimes they are disabled due to the war. This makes it harder for the kids to pursue a normal life as they have to look after their family.
Nadima’s refusal to leave
When the Taliban first came into power there was absolute chaos. It seemed as if the whole country wanted to leave. Nadima recalled that day vividly. She was with a friend who tried to convince her to leave the country. No matter what she said, Nadima would not leave Afghanistan.
“We have to give each other a chance. Running is not the solution … I was not going to leave because I have responsibilities to my people and my country. I am loved here and welcomed here. So, she left but I stayed. I refused and of course I was cut off. A lot of my friends don’t communicate with me anymore.”
The way forward for Afghanistan
Afghanistan and its people have been through a lot. In such times, it is easy to blame one’s past for everything that is going wrong in the present. For Nadima, she has decided to forgive and forget about the past and focus on creating a better future.
“We are in 2022. Everybody knows what happened and what is happening. Now we have to strictly focus on solutions from the space of goodness. What we want to see happen … I believe that forgiveness, empathy, gratitude, and love is the solution. More than ever, that is what is needed in Afghanistan.”
Honest business is the only way to go forward for Afghanistan. Trade is crucial for Afghanistan to help uplift the country and its people, explained Nadima.
Trying to rebuild Afghanistan
For any nation to be rebuilt, it needs skilled and knowledgeable people. When the evacuations were taking place, Afghanistan lost many of its skilled and learned workers. These people have now been offered jobs in the countries they have gone to, and Nadima wants them to return so they can help restore the country to its former greatness.
“I want women to be doctors, nurses, and midwives. In Afghanistan we got this distance learning where they go abroad and then they don’t come back. Those students are like the top students. Then they keep them in their hospitals. What was the point in giving them an education? Why did you take my best and keep them in your country? I don’t want that either. Share your space with us, share your resources but bring me back my people. Now in Afghanistan they evacuated so many engineers, so many doctors and they have been given jobs there. Why are they not told to go back to your homeland, it’s safe now? They need doctors. They are using our people to take care of their people and they left my people with nothing. That is not how I want things to go.”
Nadima’s social media pages have all been flagged and she is restricted to learning about the outside world and the world knowing about her work. Even with these barriers in place she is committed to the cause of Afghanistan. Committed to helping the widows of the country and improving the lives of all Afghan people.