Woke this morning to the cooing of mourning doves outside our window, and I was reminded instantly of Afghanistan.
The day began with bright sunshine, blue sky and puffy clouds — the same morning scene during our winter in Afghanistan.
I always remember that mournful song, which followed the adhān, the call to prayer that boomed out over the desert as Muslims were urged to come to the mosque.
I was grateful to hear it, especially because it rang clear — there was no bombing or gunfire near dawn.
That first of five calls to prayer was always in the dark. Even the mourning doves waited before starting their soft cries.
I associate both sound-memories with peace.
This might sound shocking to nations still at war with Afghanistan, yet who could mistake prayer and gentle, waking song with anything but peace?
I believed then, and I still believe, that most Afghans want peace after decades of war. I’m not naive — I was a political journalist and foreign correspondent for many years.
Everywhere we went in Afghanistan, we encountered weariness with conflict, terror, oppression, and want.
No matter our political or religious beliefs, we in the nations that have been to war in Afghanistan must understand that most people everywhere want to live with their families in peace.
Yes, we met terrorists and rabid political leaders in Afghanistan. And yes, we met heavily armed, young men who would die for any cause because life did not seem to offer them any other purpose.
But we didn’t meet many people of any gender, any age, or any socio-economic background who truly wanted conflict to continue. Living in ruined cities, with farms ravaged by all manner of weapons (wells poisoned by extremists, fields hollowed out by bombs), Afghans wanted the country of their memories restored.
Despite its aridity, Afghanistan once had bountiful orchards and farms. It once had schools for all — schools that helped several generations go to grad school abroad, and return home with PhDs and other training that helped improve medical care, education, public works and agriculture.
Yet this generation has known nothing but war.
I think of this often, wondering what little I can do to help some of the poorest people on earth.
I can give a little to help rebuild. I can give a little to ensure Afghans have clean water, shelter and food — the very basics of life denied because of more than 30 years of war.
I’m heartened by progress in Afghanistan, especially because millions of children have returned to school. I’m encouraged by the willingness of nations to continue stocking health clinics, buying books and giving other humanitarian aid to war-weary Afghans.
I cannot do much, from here.
But I can give $25 to the faith group I trust most in the world, knowing that it will stretch my modest contribution for education, health care and relief in Afghan villages.
Mennonite Central Committee volunteers do so much, there. God bless them for their courage and faith in action.
Giving Sundays is a regular series, written by a new citizen, seeking ways to improve her community, and help others touched by her adopted country.