Sunday, November 7th, 2010
It’s been a long time since I last posted. I’ve been very busy, focused on preparing the photo exhibit which will accompany my presentation, Afghanistan, 2010, a View From the Ground here in Austin on Nov. 19th at Ventana Del Soul in Austin. (78741)
Now I’m to the point of proofing the images and working on the word panels containing each woman’s bio and an excerpt from her interview that will accompany each of 25 portraits. This stage of the process has been gratifying and revelatory as I get a chance to step back from the mass of images and words and look deeply into individual eyes and take in their messages.
For example, I see the strength and determination in Habbiba‘s face while I read about the death threats she received during her time living in a Pakistani refugee camp. She and her sisters had started an informal school for bored young kids who were acting out but elders in the camp threatened to kill her if they didn‘t stop. She also started a small business in the camp, bringing in items from the bazaar in Peshawar to sell, which earned enough money to enable her and her family to move out.
And there is the forthright look and single purpose of Rohina, who at 11 years old, is solely focused on her dreams of becoming a doctor and leading her family out of its hand-to-mouth poverty.
And Sakina, an 80 year old “internally displaced person”, (IDP) who returned to Kabul from a refugee camp in Pakistan. Her family couldn’t afford a house, so she now lives in an informal camp inside the city. I marvel at the determination in her face and the sparkle in her eyes.
In spite of her lifelong poverty and struggles with living in uncomfortable conditions and severe winter cold at her advanced age, she is still an active member of her family and complains that people don’t want to hire her to clean their houses because they think she’s too old.
To book the exhibit and/or presentation(s), email me at email@example.com
Posted in Afghan Women's Project, AWP 2010, psychological health, refugees, women | No Comments »
Sunday, August 22nd, 2010
Yesterday I attended a lecture by Jen O’Neal on her trip to Uganda. She told us stories of women who had sustained or been forced to perpetrate horrific atrocities. Although they certainly had residual emotional effects as a result, the women she met were generally not depressed. They had full access to their emotions, both positive and negative.
I thought about this in comparison to Afghan women who, as a result of all they have been through, suffer from a high rate of depression. I saw that there a key difference.
In 2003, when I asked women in Woleyat prison how they support each other, a few told me that when a new woman comes into their room, they would encourage her to tell her story and they would cry together. The crying together would help them bond as each woman in the group would take on some of the storyteller’s pain and by connecting with their own similar stories, they could help heal some of their own traumas.
However, on this trip when I asked women how they most often deal with difficulties they face, many of them told me that they keep their troubles to themselves so as not to add to the burdens of those they love. This is a prescription for isolation and depression.
In both groups, the ones who are moving forward, who are engaged in creating better lives for their children and/or the wider society, heal the quickest and have emotional access to the most joy.
Joy is a state of being that doesn’t fall into the lap of the beholder but must be strived for. Jen O’Neal
Posted in AWP 2010, Other, psychological health, Uncategorized, women | 2 Comments »