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My Experience in Afghanistan & My Message for President Obama

President Obama, This is my personal message to you. (See video message at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYJjwul--5Q&feature=player_embedded#)

My name is Liz Grover. I’m a world traveler, a writer, a cultural researcher and a grassroots organizer. At the age of 22, I wanted to experience Muslim culture beyond the lens of the Western media so I went to Afghanistan where I lived for two years. There I worked with small nonprofits and even for the UN election efforts. I spent a lot of time experiencing the hospitality in the homes of Afghans. I lived in a neighborhood in Kabul with the same conditions as many—no central heating, unreliable access to electricity and running water, which was especially hard on Kabul’s cold winter nights or those sticky summer days when I needed a shower more than usual. Although challenging, it was well worth the journey. I don’t know everything about this diverse and complex ancient culture. I will say that being there shifted my perspective, and I’m here to share my experience with you.

Back in 2004, I learned from many Afghans that they were happy to see the US kick the Taliban out of Kabul, but as time has passed, the same people have become distraught and exhausted of the international military presence. Many of my Afghan friends have experienced great loss because of the war; some had to abandon their homes and leave their country as refugees because they were afraid of getting caught in the battlefield that took over their neighborhoods. Some have lost family and friends to the cross fire, loved ones who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. One friend in particular sticks out in my mind. His hand was blown off as a child because he picked up a landmine on the street that he thought was just a toy.

This is very personal for me. Not only do I think about my Afghan friends, but I worry about my international friends. When I turned to the BBC to find that UN employees were brutally killed back in October, the video coverage included a scene of people hopping the wall of what used to be my back yard. The guesthouse was two doors down from where I used to live. This made me wonder if my former Afghan neighbors were ok and if my UN friends who still lived there were alive.

Dialogue is the answer. We have to listen to what the Afghans want. This situation is not about what any American wants, including myself, because Afghanistan is not our country. I constantly keep in touch with my dear Afghan friends on a regular basis, and they have expressed to me that they don’t want more US troops. They want international help in the form of funding the basics such as job training, and the improvement and building of schools and hospitals. Of course this doesn’t reflect the opinion of every Afghan, because it is a diverse land of many tribes and various ecosystems.

The real question isn’t if we send more troops or not. As a Nobel Laureate and someone who has seen the world, I think you understand that the question is what do the Afghans want. I call upon you to listen to them, and I’m talking about the Afghan citizens who have never stepped foot in the Presidential Mansion in Kabul or the Parliament that many believe to be full of warlords. Peace can only happen when the voices of the Afghan people are genuinely included in the process. President Obama, please reconsider Afghanistan and use peaceful means to help end this insane war.

Comments

Jensine's picture

Loud and clear!

Strong, clear, powerful. Love the video. Thank you for your clarion voice on this important issue, Liz!

Jensine Larsen
World Pulse

lizgrover's picture

Thank you!

It's great to have your support. This is a very important time and I want my Afghan friends and the world to have peace.

jadefrank's picture

Powerful message

Hi Liz,

Thank you for sharing with us your powerful message to President Obama and your experience living in Afghanistan and deep relationship with the country and its people. My heart aches each day that I see more violence in this war torn country and I know that more troops is not the answer. I stand in solidarity with you for your call to President Obama in listening to the voices of the Afghan people and using peaceful means to end the war. Thank you for your deep insight. I hope that you will continue to share with us what is happening in this country, as heard from your friends.

Warm regards,
Jade

lizgrover's picture

Thank You Jade

I am so grateful for your kind words and your concern for Afghanistan and its people. It's a very special place and I have so much more to share about it. I will definitely post more here in this wonderful community. In the meantime you can check out my blog where I have more stories of Afghanistan and other countries.

Peace,
Liz

Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Liz, You are saying what

Dear Liz,

You are saying what the Afghan people have been saying for long. But at present no one seems to be listening to them. Though everyone is thinking on their behalf.
In any conflict area or a problematic region it is important to involve as well as listen to its people. They form an important part of the whole process but unfortunately are often neglected.
Thanks for raising your voice on behalf of these unfortunate people.

Regards

Nusrat

lizgrover's picture

Thank You.

Hellow Nusrat,

You understand what I'm saying and I appreciate it. It drives me crazy that none of the talking heads on TV in my country or in Washington DC consider this perspective, yet it is the most important one. Your support is appreciated. I look forward to reading your writing. I'm a frequent world traveler and one of these days I will go to Kashmir. I hope to meet you when I'm there.

Peace to you Sister,
Liz

Nusrat Ara's picture

I would also love to meet and

I would also love to meet and talk to you. Hope to see you soon . Insha allah.

Love

Nusrat

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