1. What is your job? What issues do you work on? Where? How? When?

I am a civil activist, peacebuilder, and an independent journalist based in Kabul, Afghanistan.  I am currently working as Media and Program officer with Democracy International in Afghanistan.

One-day workshop in Kabul, Afghanistan in August 2015
One-day workshop in Kabul, Afghanistan in August 2015

I carry over 10 years of practical experience with the issues of conflict resolution, reconciliation, peacebuilding, and community change activities from the work I have done in Afghanistan, India, Rwanda, and Nepal.  

Currently, I am a student of the Community Change and Peacebuilding class of 2015 of the Future Generations Graduate School. I have worked with the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration program, where I worked on re-integration, peacebuilding, and traditional Afghan communities’ Jirga’s mediation. The core of my current activities in Democracy International includes community based activities for a positive change. I am working with the Afghanistan independent election commission, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, political parties, and media. My day-to-day work involves civic advocacy, outreach activities, and educating my people about why civil rights and free elections matter for the future of Afghanistan.

2. Why is your work important? How can it make a difference?

When you love what you do, when you really enjoy seeing your people smile and struggle for peace, reconstruction, and education, you feel your work is important and makes an impact on people’s lives.

Conducting group dialogue with Tutsi and Hutu tribes for the Institute of Research and Dialogue in July 2014.
Conducting group dialogue with Tutsi and Hutu tribes for the Institute of Research and Dialogue in July 2014.

 Doing community based and peacebuilding activities is my passion and makes me happy; it means everything to me.

As program and media officer with Democracy International, the focus of my work is with the communities, civil society organizations, parliamentarians, and the public, to build accountable institutions and increase citizens’ ability to hold their government accountable. I have been part of a number of important developments that we have made in Afghanistan – teaching about voters preferences on key election issues, voter participation, encouragement of women’s participation in the April 2014 elections. Each of these have a very important impact on Afghans’ lives. The International election observation in 2014 and the Afghanistan Electoral Reform and Civic Advocacy project (AERCA), which will last until December 2015, are the key developments that can be named.

In AERCA, we facilitate an Afghan-led electoral reform process to strengthen Afghan democracy and to foster innovations in governance through such electoral reforms. I believe my work has a strong impact in my people’s lives and is therefore important in a country that has one of the highest proportions of young people in the world, many of whom have known only war. But these young people look to the future; they haven’t lost hope and are looking for a positive change despite the fact that for many, it has been so costly. This young generation has a hope for peace and positive change in the country. I count myself from this young generation who had the opportunity to study and obtain practical experiences. Now, the most important mission for me is to transfer this knowledge to my community, my people, and to use it through my engagement with rural and urban communities.

Lake Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo border in July 2014 after a workshop on youth roles in peace.
Lake Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo border in July 2014 after a workshop on youth roles in peace.

The Afghan people want to have dignity, to not be called terrorists, to live peacefully as other humans do in the other parts of the world. Therefore, it’s very important for me to be part of this community.  It gives me the strength to start my tomorrow with an even better plan and more energy to reach the aforementioned goals. 

3. Please describe a typical day, or a particular day that offers a good example of your peacebuilding work.

As the United States approached its 2014 deadline for military withdrawal from the country, the fear of losing the progress made by previously marginalized segments of the Afghan population, particularly women, girls, and young people, had been growing. At the same time, this progress was evident on the day of the presidential election in 2014, where millions of men and women came out to vote, completely contrary to what the insurgents were trying to make happen.

I worked as an observer on election day, as well as on the day of the runoff. Security concerns were significant, as 2014 had been the deadliest of the war for government forces and civilians since the United Nations started recording the figures in 2008. But, I had a commitment like millions of others for a positive change. I visited the polling centers, observed the voting process, talked to voters about their experience, and finally, watched the entire election process very closely in many polling centers. Despite the security threats, I made a promise and completed it. So, I believe this was one of the greatest achievements of my professional life as a peacebuilder.

Playing games with children to show the power and benefits of peace. February 2014, Maharashtra State, Gandhi Ashram, India
Playing games with children to show the power and benefits of peace. February 2014, Maharashtra State, Gandhi Ashram, India

The over 7 million voters, with 38 percent female turnout on election day, have a close relation with my day-to-day work at Democracy International.  The day reminded me and all of my colleagues that our nationwide advocacy activities that we had been doing with civil society organizations and the outreach activities that we had performed with the parliamentarians, media, and political parties had a strong impact.

The over 7 million voters constitute a powerful move towards a democratic and peaceful future for Afghanistan. The voters have given a message of breaking the underpinning violence and showed everyone that they are going into a new phase for Afghanistan. The millions of people across my country, the families, and the communities have rejected the insurgents' authoritarian rule and showed them that now we have decided for positive change, and will work towards a peaceful and stable future for Afghanistan.