A letter from Kabul

Kabul, July 3, 2005

Dear friends,

For the past four years, Aina has trained several hundred men and women in eight media and culture centres in the Afghan provinces and Kabul, supporting independent local media in fields such as video documentary, photojournalism, radio, press, and taking travelling educational cinema to the more isolated provinces. Our trainees have taken part in the production of films, radio shows, photo reporting, and magazines, reaching an audience of a millions of listeners, spectators and readers.

But now, because the world’s interest has gone elsewhere, the entire endeavour is in danger of extinction: The international aid upon which Aina has been dependent has dried up.

I’m writing to you so that the enthusiasm of the reporters, who lost jobs and some of their hopes to share in the emergence of a peaceful, free Afghanistan, will not be betrayed because of lack of funds.

For the past 25 years I have covered many conflicts throughout the world, knowing that the invisible wounds are those of the soul, knowing that wars shatter the cultural identity of a people, knowing that repression imprisons freedom of speech and of thought. I understood this when I created Aina, an humanitarian organisation. A third generation NGO, it shares in the development of independent media sources and cultural expression, the foundations of democracy and the emergence of civil society.

As for the free magazine ‘Parvaz’(To soar), a jewel of the Afghan press, the only children’s magazine launched by Aina, a window on the world, both educational and recreational; This pillar in the architecture of a future Afghanistan where the actors of tomorrow - the children of today – are taught to be open minded, tolerant, and believe in democracy, will need a new base if we have to close the Media Centre.

What will happen to the rebuilt houses, the newly paved roads, the new schools and hospitals, without a civil society led by a people marching towards democracy and educated with peace in mind? My greatest fear is that, without institutions like Aina, there will be a return to darkness in Afghanistan, Not only Afghans will suffer as a result, but the broader international community will be endangered,

A moral obligation towards the Afghan people, in the name of the citizens of the free world that we are, forces me to tell of this alarming, even desperate, situation..

Today the entire Aina Team is fighting to preserve the light of liberty... and hoping to spread it.

I’m writing to you from Kabul because today you are the only ones who can help Aina with your commitment and involvement.

We need you because our projects are trying to heal a people wounded by years of unrest and whose only desire is to live in a new peaceful and united society.

Many roads lead to Kabul, symbolic city of a country that you cannot quit without leaving part of your heart behind. There is some peculiar attraction on this Afghan road that I have travelled these past 25 years and where I have witnessed the struggle of a people caught in the turmoil of war and repression. Help us avoid a repetition of the tragedies of the past which brought so much violence to the World - from Kabul to New York.

We need your help today;


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