The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Photo of the Day


This photo came from a story in the Woman of the World section of the Daily Beast.  You can find the whole story here.  Looking at those beautiful determined faces catches my breath.

On Thursday, Congress took an unprecedented step to ensure women’s meaningful participation in the stability and democratization of their nation. In passing the 52nd National Defense Authorization Act, they authorized funds specifically for women in the Afghan forces, designating a minimum of $25 million to bolster their ranks. With women comprising only one percent of the Afghan National Police and 0.3 percent of the Afghan National Army, the consequences of not doing so would be dire.
Without female security officers, Afghan women will not be allowed to vote. Most voter registration and polling stations are sex-segregated. Female security personnel are needed to staff women-only polling stations, which remain closed if there are no women to fill the role. There’s a lot riding on the April 2014 presidential election—not least, protections for women’s rights. The best way to maintain the hard-earned gains of Afghan women is to elect a president who will uphold them. And the best way to elect a president of that profile is to enable women to vote.
To effectively counter terrorism and violent extremism, there must be women in the police and military. Last year in Afghanistan, there were at least 13 recorded accounts of male insurgents dressed as women entering restricted areas from which they launched attacks. There were no female body searchers to stop them. Beyond circumventing targeted attacks, women expand the capability of security forces to engage populations affected by insecurity and natural disasters. Expanded engagement means better collection of information and stronger understanding of context, which ultimately results in more effective operations.

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Poetry in Afghanistan: New York Times Profiles Matiullah Turab


The New York Times features the life and writing of Matiullah Turab. Mr. Turab is a popular poet who performs throughout Afghanistan and works during the day as a metalsmith.

With his unflinching words, Mr. Turab, 44, offers a voice for Afghans grown cynical about the war and its perpetrators: the Americans, the Taliban, the Afghan government, Pakistan.
War has turned into a trade
Heads have been sold
as if they weigh like cotton,
and at the scale sit such judges
who taste the blood, then decide the price
Though poetry is loved, it seldom pays. Some writers have taken government jobs, finding the steady paycheck and modest responsibilities conducive to their work. Mr. Turab, for his part, has stuck to his dingy garage on the outskirts of Khost City.
“This is my life, what you see here: banging iron, cutting it short, making it long,” he said. “I still don’t call myself a poet.” Continue reading

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Poets Dream of Peace in Afghanistan

In a recent piece focuses on twenty Pashtun poets that get together every week  to share their dreams of peace:

Jalalabad is regarded as the heartland of Afghan poetry in a region better known for its warriors than its wordsmiths, on a plateau south of the Himalayan mountains of the Hindu Kush.
Meeting every Friday — a day of rest in Afghanistan — the poet’s circle consists of men in long traditional white, grey, black or brown Afghan shirts who sit on plastic chairs in a courtyard covered by vine leaves tumbling over a bamboo roof.
They take it in turns to speak from behind a makeshift wooden lectern, their words offering strength and hope in dealing with life in a country ravaged by war for over three decades.
Their language, Pashto, is the dominant tongue in the south and east of the country.
Poet’s circle member Baryali Baryal said humour is the best antidote to the relentless stress of living with war.
“We have been in war for three decades, so everybody is sad, suffering from different problems,” he said.
“So since it’s war, I write funny poems. People are unhappy, so I think if they sit five minutes with us and we make them laugh, they will feel happy.”
With a large, earth-coloured Afghan shawl on his shoulders, Baryali took his place at the pulpit and began describing life on the streets of Jalalabad, to the laughter and applause of his audience. Continue reading

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Rural Folk Poetry of Afghanistan

Poetry magazine is devoting its entire June issue to Journalist Eliza Griswold and London Filmaker Seamus Murphy’s project which portrays “Afghan life through the prism of oral folk poems…”

For 10 years, journalist Eliza Griswold reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan for publications like The New York Times and The New Yorker. But she was frustrated that in pursuit of the headlines, some of her most interesting stories were left on the cutting room floor. Too often, she felt, she wasn’t able to convey the humanity and humor of the Afghan people who were living with the daily realities of war.Last year, she embarked on a project to tell those stories by collecting oral folk poems shared mostly among Pashtun women.

I dream I am the president.
When I awake, I am the beggar of the world.

The poems are called landays. Just two lines long with 22 syllables, they carry a bite. (One meaning of the word landay is short, poisonous snake.)

“This is rural folk poetry. This is poetry that’s meant to be oral. It’s passed mouth to mouth. Ear to ear. And the women have recited these poems for centuries,” said Griswold.Over the past decade, many of the landays have also expressed anger about the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan:

May God destroy the White House and kill the man
who sent U.S. cruise missles to burn my homeland.

Others are filled with sorrow:

In battle, there should be two brothers:
One to be martyred, one to wind the shroud of the other.

The article can be found here.