Issues & Analysis
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Myths and Misconceptions in the Afghan Transition

Peace Brief by Shahmahmood Miakhel and Noah Coburn

Summary

  • The coming period of transition to Afghan control of national security will require greater cooperation and understanding between all parties.
  • Cooperation between the international community, the Afghan government and local communities is currently being undermined by a series of myths and assumptions which stem from the unstable conditions, a perceived lack of shared interests and a handful of highly publicized incidents.
  • The international community often underestimates local capacity for governance in Afghanistan and ignores the success that Afghanistan did have with self-rule for much of the 20th century.
  • Local Afghan communities are skeptical of the aims of both counterinsurgency and statebuilding measures, as projects, such as internationally sponsored elections, have failed to yield anticipated results despite the continued presence of international troops.
  • There is an urgent need to rethink some of the assumptions on both sides of the table which threaten to undermine the long-term prospects for peace in Afghanistan.

About this Brief

The authors have worked for many years in the Kabul office of the United States Institute of Peace in Afghanistan on local governance and rule of law projects. Shahmahmood Miakhel is USIP’s Country Director in Afghanistan. From 2003-2005 he was deputy minister of the Interior. Noah Coburn is a political anthropologist focusing on informal justice in Afghanistan and is currently teaching at Skidmore College. He has been conducting research in Afghanistan since 2005 and is the author of “Bazaar Politics: Pottery and Power in an Afghan Market Town.” This report is based upon observations by the two authors, field visits to the south, east, southeast, west and center of the country, discussions with government officials, local leaders and members of the international community.   Download PDF (294.35 KB)

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New mandate will strengthen engagement in Afghanistan – UN Envoy Report

28 March 2012 – The United Nations envoy in Afghanistan said today that the recently renewed mandate of the world body’s mission in the country lends itself to stronger engagement with the Government and society at large to advance peace, development and a host of other goals.

Last week, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for another one year so it can continue supporting the country as it goes through the process of assuming full responsibility for its security, governance and development efforts.

“We see a strong requirement towards the United Nations to work not as a sort of detached party but in support of the Afghan Government and society,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, which has been in place now for 10 years.

He told a news conference in Kabul that the new mandate recognises “very clearly that Afghanistan is assuming more and more sovereignty and ownership of all the processes that are happening here in the country, that indeed the transition process goes on, that indeed all of us… are facing new realities on the ground and also in the region.”

Highlighting the key priorities for the UN, Mr. Kubiš stressed that the Organization will continue to promote peace and reconciliation, coordinate international civilian efforts and provide more coherent support to the Government.

The Mission will also place emphasis on enabling and strengthening the role of Afghan institutions.

“The majority of the Afghan people want to see peace, less killings and more stability. We as the UN must support the peace process and I promise engagement,” said Mr. Kubiš. “That means talking to the people fighting. Without talking to them there can be no inclusive peace process.”

In a briefing to the Council last week, Mr. Kubiš said that Afghanistan’s transition process remains on track despite recent tragic incidents, adding that efforts continue to strengthen the capacity of national institutions to maintain rule of law and provide services to the population.

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Emergencies Taking a Deadly Toll in Badakhshan

Afghanistan’s harshest winter in 15 years leaves families struggling to survive. A series of recent avalanches have killed more than 90 people in Badakhshan province, an extremely isolated mountain region in northeast Afghanistan.

While relief efforts continue to assist avalanche survivors, snowbound villages throughout the province also desperately need health care and nutrition as their food supplies run low and as increased cases of pneumonia and other illnesses ravage the population.

In Darang, a village of 400 families situated near the Tajikistan border, 29 children under the age of five have reportedly died in the past month. Medair staff travelled three hours by horseback to reach Darang and found children suffering from acute malnutrition, pneumonia, and other health complications.

Families are running dangerously low on food. In 2011, severe drought led to a poor harvest in the region and with the heavy snowfall and the avalanches this winter, many people have been unable to reach markets or health care facilities.

Darang’s residents have also run out of fodder to feed their livestock, leaving their animals too emaciated to be eaten or sold. Furthermore, Darang, like many other villages in Badakhshan, will soon be at serious risk of landslides and flooding when the heavy snow melts in the spring thaw.

“These recent avalanches have highlighted just how vulnerable village families in Badakhshan are,” said Claire Skinner, Medair Country Director for Afghanistan. “Far too many children are malnourished and families are living on the brink of survival. This harsh winter has pushed many of them beyond their means to cope.”

 

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Official Selection at Hot Docs International Documentary Festival 2012

Sayed Quasem Husseini’s short film Death to the Camera from The Fruit of Our Labor collection was selected to be screened at the 2012 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival!

Hot Docs is North America’s largest documentary film festival and conference, featuring over 150 films from around the world.

In Death to the Camera a camera moves among women working on a job site.  As they joke and fight with each other, the mood repeatedly shifts between belly laughs and rage.  While they wait for their pay, they consider how to cover their basic expenses, what happens to international aid and whether Karzai is a crook or a servant of the people.  Is the camera revealing anything truthful, or simply inciting these women to present what they think ‘the other’ wants to hear?

Direction and Camera: Qasem Husseini
Editing: Hamed Alizadeh
Sound: Mona Haidari

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To the Chinese and the Indians go … the spoils of war

The New Zealand Herald, by Jonathan Owen and David Randall, Monday Mar 19, 2011

The money and blood pit that is Afghanistan – where the United States and Britain have spent more than 2100 lives and £302 billion ($580 billion) – is about to pay a dividend.

But it won’t be going to the countries which have made this considerable sacrifice. The contracts to open up Afghanistan’s mineral and fossil-fuel wealth, and to build the railways that will transport it out of the country, are being won or pursued by China, India, Iran, and Russia.

The potentially lucrative task of exploiting Afghanistan’s immense mineral wealth – estimated to be worth around £2 trillion, according to the Kabul Government – is only in the early stages. But already China and India in particular are doing deals and beginning work.

Facilities already established are being protected by local army and police, part of whose funding, and most of whose training, has been a US/British responsibility.

The anomaly of two Afghanistans – one of massacres, roadside bombs, and battles with the Taleban, the other of commercial deals in the hundreds of millions – is not lost on observers.

British Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, a member of the foreign affairs select committee, said: “The Chinese are self-interested. I don’t blame them for that. But it is on the backs of the sacrifice made by British and Americans and others, the sacrifices we have made which we hope after 2014 will lead to a more stable and secure Afghanistan, and for the Chinese to capitalise on that doesn’t go down well.”

Dr Richard Weitz, senior fellow of the Centre for Political-Military Analysis said: “From our perspective, China should have done more in terms of security. From their perspective, they didn’t need to; they could free-ride, we were going to do it anyway. They didn’t see any point because all they would do is incur a lot of sacrifice and antagonise the Taleban and the global terrorist movement, and they’d rather let us incur that.”

But others think any involvement in Afghanistan’s development, especially by regional powers, is beneficial.

Peter Galbraith, former deputy head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, said: “Western companies are exceptionally timid when it comes to operating in places where there is even the remotest hint that it might be a little risky, and the Chinese are not and are willing to go to these places. And the Chinese have business practices that Western countries … let’s just say that Chinese generosity towards local officials exceeds that of what Western companies are capable.”

Dr Leif Rosenberger, chief economist at US Central Command, said: “I see China, on balance, playing a positive role. On the security front, nobody wanted to see a rising Chinese military power intervening in Afghanistan. On the economic front, China bought a huge chunk of US government debt, which in turn financed US military intervention in Afghanistan. China is also an inspiring, market-friendly role model for developing countries in the region.”

Afghanistan’s mineral wealth extends over a huge range of valuable resources: iron, gold, copper, niobium (used in hardening steel), uranium, marble, cobalt, mercury, caesium, molybdenum (a metal which can withstand high temperatures and is used to make various alloys), and other rare earth minerals. The country has especially valuable deposits of lithium, the metal used in batteries. Indeed, a Pentagon official is on record suggesting that Afghanistan could be “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”.

As far back as 2008, China agreed to a deal to develop the Aynak copper mine in Logar province. This is said to be the world’s second-largest deposit of high-grade copper. The Afghan National Police have deployed 1500 officers to guard the mine, while 2000 US soldiers provide general security in the province. An Indian consortium has secured the rights to two blocks in the huge Hajigak iron ore field, the other block going to a Canadian firm. India will also contribute to the establishment of an Institute of Mines in Kabul, and last October signed a strategic partnership with Afghanistan.

The deals are not confined to minerals. In late December, China’s state-owned National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) won a contract for three oil fields in Zamarudsay, Kashkari, and Bazarkhami in the northern provinces of Sari Pul and Faryab, which will make it the first foreign company to exploit Afghanistan’s oil and natural gas reserves. The intention is that CNPC will build a refinery within three years, and this will be guarded by units of Afghan police and army.

Chinese state firms have also been involved with seven infrastructure projects, including roads in Kondoz and Jalalabad. They have also won contracts for telecommunications systems in Kandahar and Kabul. And last year, the Asian Development Bank announced it had allocated more than US$200 million for the development of the gas wells of Sheberghan, and an attendant pipeline. Italy, Turkey and Germany are also pursuing deals.

American and British involvement is low-key at present. PricewaterhouseCoopers is advising the Ministry of Mines in Kabul, and the US bank JPMorgan is active, having put together a consortium that won rights to the Qara Zaghan gold deposits.

Many point out that security, especially after US forces cease active operations in 2014, will be crucial, and could yet scupper major exploitation. But Afghanistan has just opened its first major railway and is planning half a dozen more. China, Iran, Pakistan and India all have government or corporate plans for separate rail projects across Afghanistan. Turkmenistan is completing its own plans for another line, and Uzbekistan built the first major rail link, a 75km line from the border town of Hairatan to Mazar-i-Sharif in the north of Afghanistan.

The plan is to build a series of short, cross-border tracks to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Iran. The tracks would connect to each other inside the country’s north by railways built by Iran from the west and China from the east.

“We would be able to import and export to Russia, Turkey, and even European countries,” says Noor Gul Mangal, Afghanistan’s deputy public works minister. Opening new transport gateways would also reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on neighbouring Pakistan as its only link to sea ports.

– Independent

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UN says 145 ‘presumed dead’ in Afghan avalanche and warns of severe flooding

KABUL, March 10, 2012 (AFP) – At least 145 people are missing and “presumed dead” after an avalanche hit a village in Afghanistan’s northeastern Badakhshan province last week, the United Nations said Saturday.

Afghan officials had earlier Saturday put the death toll from the March 4 series of avalanches in Badakhshan’s Shekay district at 56.

The UN said an avalanche in the area claimed 50 lives and warned of severe flooding over coming weeks due to melting snow.

Afghanistan’s harshest winter in 15 years has claimed scores of lives, with the avalanches taking the toll to more than 90 in Badakhshan alone, according to officials.

“Access to Dispay village is possible only by road from neighbouring Tajikistan but has been severely hampered by snow-blocked roads”, said UN’s Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan in a statement.

“Helicopter access is not possible as there is a high risk of triggering further avalanches.”

The Geneva-based Agha Khan Foundation, the UN Food Programme and the US embassy have donated food and medicines to the affected families.

“This tragedy is likely to be one of many in the near future. Heavy snows will result not just in avalanches but also, in a few weeks’ time, severe flooding in many parts of the country”, said Humanitarian Coordinator, Michael Keating.

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This Saturday 3-24, TFOL Screening at Rubia’s 10th Anniversary Celebration


Event: 1-4:00pm, Film Screening: 1-2:30pm
Red River Theatre, 11 S. Main St, Concord, NH
Community Supported Film is thrilled to be celebrating Rubia’s 10th Aniversary with the inclusion of a screening of The Fruit of Our Labor. Rubia’s mission is to develop economic opportunities in Afghanistan through craft heritage, to support education and to promote health and well being for Afghan women and their families.
Buy/donate: $15 dollar ticket and More Info

Please forward this information to your community of family, friends, and colleagues. Follow CSFilm on Facebook.

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Can U.S.-Afghan Partnership Work?

Council on Foreign Relations,  Author: Jayshree Bajoria, Deputy Editor, February 28, 2011

Violence against NATO troops by Afghan security forces in reponse to burning of the Quran at the Bagram Air Base has reignited doubts over the U.S. endgame in Afghanistan, which hinges on handing over security to Afghan forces. The weekend’s killing of two U.S. soldiers by an Afghan security official comes just one month after four French soldiers were killed (Guardian) by an Afghan army trainee, an incident that prompted Paris to speed up withdrawal plans. Senior U.S. officials said Washington will stay its course in Afghanistan as planned (Reuters), but lack of trust on both sides complicates the future of the international mission.

Read More

 

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Congressional Briefing presented by CSFilm, AFSC, 3P Human Security and CIVIC, 2/29

Join Rep. James McGovern and Rep. John Garamendi for

Afghan Civil Society Perspectives

* Afghan-made Documentary Short films *

* Live Video Conference with Afghans *

* Expert Testimony and Roundtable Discussion *

* Catered Event * 

Wednesday February 29, 2012 Ÿ 2pm – 4 pm
B-338 Rayburn – House Office Building

Please join us at 2pm next Wednesday for an open Congressional Briefing about Afghan Civil Society perspectives on future stability and humanitarian concerns in Afghanistan.  The event will feature a live video conference with Afghan NGO directors and filmmakers, a screening of a selection of the Afghan–made documentary shorts The Fruit of Our Labor, and a roundtable discussion with Community Supported Film, 3P Human Security, and the American Friends Service Committee.  The briefing coincides with the DC opening of AFSC’s Windows and Mirrors Afghan mural exhibit organized with religious members from the Faith Roundtable on Afghanistan.

The Fruit of Our Labor films allow viewers to witness reality through Afghan eyes, offering a deeper understanding of Afghanistan that is crucial for mapping a peaceful and stable path forward and avoiding another humanitarian crisis as US and NATO troops withdraw.  The films are a collection of documentary shorts made by Afghans in a training provided by Community Supported Film in Kabul.  The films convey the realities and challenges of daily life in Afghanistan and also highlight Afghan-led development initiatives.  The Fruit of Our Labor identifies critical areas that need sustained technical and financial support from US and international organizations – such as maternal healthcare, and access to clean water, education, and employment.

Presenter Lisa Schirch will discuss her study “Designing a Comprehensive Peace Process for Afghanistan,” which provides evidence of the importance of including Afghan Civil Society in building a stable and peaceful Afghanistan.

Zarah Sadat, filmmaker and Founder and Director of Open Society Organization in Afghanistan; Jamal Aram, filmmaker and Program Coordinator of Community Supported Film, Afghanistan; Michael Sheridan, Director and Founder of Community Supported Film; Peter Lems, Program Director for Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran at AFSC; Lisa Schirch, Director of 3P Human Security

• 2-2:20 pm – Introduction and screening of selections from the Afghan-made documentary shorts The Fruit of Our Labor

2:20 -3:20 pm – Live Video Conversation and Q&A with Afghan and US participants:

• 3:20-4:00 pm – Screening of additional selections from The Fruit of Our Labor

For more information please contact Community Supported Film at info[at]csfilm[dot]org or 617-834-7206.

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Meeting the peacemakers: Afghan activists learn from Irish experience

British Agencies Afghanistan Group, 2/21/12

In many ways Ireland and Afghanistan could not be more different.

But they have one thing in common: a long history of conflict and their peoples’ desire for peace.

In Northern Ireland, grassroots groups have helped to defuse tensions across the sectarian divide, building – and maintaining – peace.

BAAG is taking a group of Afghan activists on a week-long trip to Ireland to learn lessons from its peacebuilders.

The Afghan delegates will attend a peacebuilding workshop organised by BAAG and one of its member agencies, Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, near Dublin in the Irish Republic. It will be chaired by Sue Williams, who has decades of experience in mediation and reconciliation in war-torn countries around the globe. Ahmad Fahim Hakim, a former Commissioner at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, will act as co-facilitator.

The delegates are also scheduled to meet Northern Irish activists. These range from women’s peace groups to former members of paramilitary organisations who now work to support the peace process and cooperate at local level to defuse conflict and tension. They also use their influence to dissuade young men from joining paramilitary groups.

Among the prominent peacebuilders they are expected to meet is Monica McWilliams, former head of Northern Ireland’s Human Rights Commission. Monica helped set up the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition. She was one of eight Northern Irish political leaders to be awarded the John F Kennedy “Profile in Courage” Award, in 1998, in recognition of their work in negotiating the historic Good Friday Peace Agreement.

The delegates will also be meeting Michael Semple, an Irish national with decades of experience of working in Afghanistan. From 2004-7, he served as Deputy to the European Union’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. Michael, a Dari speaker, is a leading expert on the Taliban, Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes and Afghan politics.

The Glencree Centre is an Irish NGO devoted to peacebuilding and reconciliation in Ireland and other societies affected by violent conflict. It has been working on peacebuilding in Ireland for over 25 years and has been active in Afghanistan since 2007. It is currently running a course in Peace and Conflict Resolution in six universities in Afghanistan.

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Harsh winter kills 40 children in Afghanistan

Agence France-Presse 02/19/2012 09:01 GMT

KABUL, February 19, 2012 (AFP) – A harsh winter has killed almost 40 children in Afghanistan in the past month, most of them in refugee camps in Kabul with aid groups warning Sunday of more deaths as temperatures keep falling.

Twenty-four children lost their lives in camps on the outskirts of the capital which houses thousands of Afghans fleeing war and Taliban intimidation in southern Afghanistan.

Others died from cold in the central highlands, public health ministry spokesman Ghulam Sakhi Kargar Noorughli told AFP.

“Over this past one month we have 40 deaths recorded. All have died from cold and are mostly children,” he said.

Afghanistan, a landlocked and mountainous country, has suffered its coldest winter in 15 years.

International children’s charity Save the Children warned on Sunday that weather conditions were expected to worsen, threatening the lives of more children in the camps.

“Save the Children is warning that even more could die from cold in what is Afghanistan’s worst winter for 15 years,” the charity group said in a statement, adding that temperatures were expected to drop as low as -17 degrees centigrade.

“This has been a brutal winter and children have little to protect them from the biting cold,” Bob Grabman, Save the Children’s country director in Afghanistan, said.

“Many are trying to survive without decent shelter or blankets, without fuel, food, warm clothes or shoes,” he added.

“At night the temperature falls dangerously low, threatening the lives of newborns and small children. It’s crucial we get urgent help to families so children are protected,” Grabman added.

According to the charity about 20,000 people, fleeing insecurity caused by a Taliban-led insurgency, are living in more than 30 informal settlements in Kabul under extreme hardship. Most live in flimsy tents.

Despite the flood of billions of dollars in aid from the international community after the collapse of the Taliban Afghanistan remains among the poorest nations in the world.

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Jamaica Plain Forum hosts CSFilm for Screening and Talk – 3/2

The Jamaica Plain Forum, featuring Community Conversations on the great issues that shape our neighborhood and our planet, will host a presentation by Community Supported Film and screening of The Fruit of Our Labor.

Friday March 2, 2012  7pm – 9pm, First Church, Unitarian Universalist. First Church is located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, across from the Soldiers’ Monument at the corner of Centre Street and South Street. Directions found here.

In a climate where the mainstream American media typically reports international news from an American perspective and with a focus on crises and conflict, can locally-told stories help us to better understand current events?  Come find out!


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This Saturday 3-24, Women, Action & the Media Film Festival features films from TFOL

WAM!Boston Film Festival 2012 –
Saturday, March 24 at the Brattle Theatre: 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA
1:00pm:Afghan-women produced shorts from The Fruit of Our Labor screening.
Congratulations Mona Haidari, Fakhria Ibrahimi, Aqeela Rezai, and Zahra Sadat! 
WAM!Boston presents a unique lineup of films made by and about women. Q&A with the filmmakers or film subjects will follow each screening.  CSFilm will screen three films from The Fruit of Our Labor made by and about Afghan women: Hands of Health, The Road Above, and Bearing the Weight. Zarah Sadat, director of Hands of Health, will be present for a live Skype discussion following the screening.
Buy $5 Ticket and More Info
Get your tickets in advance. Tickets may also be available at the door if supplies last. $5 per film, or buy an all-festival pass for just $20. 
Presented in part with funding from the Cambridge Arts Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and with support from our sponsors: The Brattle Theater, Cambridge Women’s Commission, and Women’s & Gender Studies at MIT.

 

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The Foreign Troops Through the Afghan Eyes

Opinions, perceptions and rumors in Herat, Farah and Badghis

Presentation of the research conducted in the western Afghan provinces Placed under the Italian Isaf-Nato Command

Source: INTERSOS, February 14, 2012

Disillusion, mistrust and suspicion: these are the dominant feelings towards the foreign troops that emerge from the research “The Foreign Troops Through the Afghan Eyes: Opinions, Perceptions and Rumors in Herat, Farah and Badghis”, promoted by the Ngo Intersos and led by freelance journalist and researcher Giuliano Battiston. The interviews gathered in the summer of 2011 with different interlocutors – from religious men to governmental officials, from businessmen to activists – report a radical split between the opinions officially expressed by the representatives of western governments, claiming they have succeeded in the stabilization of the country, and the ones of the Afghan people, who declare that the International Community has failed to guarantee security for the population, and at the same time have expressed anxiety for the consequences of the foreign armies withdrawal. Read More

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UNDP steps up Afghan capacity ahead of major transitions

UN Development Programme:

New York — The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is strengthening its ability to support Afghanistan ahead of the expected withdrawal of international forces.

We recognize that we are entering a totally new phase and we need to be prepared for what’s coming,” UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan told envoys from international donor governments Tuesday.

She stressed an ongoing need to focus on gender equality, anti-corruption, and governance, continuing to build capacity of Afghan institutions—at national, provincial and local levels—to effectively deliver quality services to the population.

Following a strategic review of all activities in Afghanistan that began in 2011, UNDP will enhance programme convergence and coordination and set up a dedicated unit to boost UNDP’s role as a policy adviser and enhance programme coordination.

“Despite the risks and challenges of working there, we need to find the most qualified staff to work hand-in-hand with the Afghan institutions and we need to recruit proactively,” Grynspan said.

UNDP’s major activities in Afghanistan are linked under three clusters—crisis prevention and recovery, poverty reduction and democratic governance—with gender imbalances being addressed across them. Programme delivery to Afghanistan totaled $752 million in 2011.

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Vermont’s Green Mountain Global Forum hosts TFOL screening 2/23

The Green Mountain Global Forum
Thursday, February 23rd, 7-9pm
Big Picture Theater, 48 Carroll Road, Waitsfield, Vermont
FREE and open to the public
For more information call 496-2111

The Fruit of Our Labor: Afghan Perspectives in Film with Michael Sheridan
Filmmaker Michael Sheridan will present and discuss excerpts from the collection of ten remarkable short films presented under the title The Fruit of Our Labor: Afghan Perspectives in Film, a series of short documentaries. The films focus on issues of social and economic development, as documented and told by Afghans themselves, and present intimate glimpses into routine struggles of employment, education and health and of accomplishments and failings at the level of community and infrastructure.

The Green Mountain Global Forum promotes greater awareness and understanding of global issues by bringing knowledgeable and thought provoking speakers to the Mad River Valley; thereby, encouraging community connections and involvement while inspiring change and action.

Thank you to Nancy Turner and Tara Hamilton for making this event happen!

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Clark University hosts TFOL screening in Worcester, MA – 2/22

Clark University

 

 

 

 

Screening & Discussion: Wednesday February 22, 2012  – 6:30 pm
Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester –  Jefferson 218
Free and open to the public

Presented by Goddard Library and the IDCE Social Change Fellows, Clark University will host Community Supported Film and Director Michael Sheridan for a screening and discussion of “The Fruit of Our Labor”.  For more information, contact info[at]csfilm[dot]org or 617-834-7206.

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Two New Films to be Broadcast in Afghanistan 2/3 and 2/10

We are thrilled to let you know that two new films made by Community Supported Film members in Afghanistan will be aired on Afghan Television, TV1, this and next Friday, 2/3 and 2/10, at 6:30 pm.  If you are in Afghanistan we hope you will tune in.  If not, we hope you will support CSFilm’s work to train local storytellers, raise important social and economic issues, and engage the public.  We cannot continue to do this work without your generous financial support. Thank you!

These films were made through CSFilm’s mentorship program.  The filmmakers were assisted through their first experience of developing story ideas that met the commissioning organization’s criteria, and writing proposals and budgets.  Once this massive challenge was met (and they won the contracts!) they had to learn project and financial management, and then produce a high quality, engaging 30 minute documentary.

We are so proud of their accompl
ishments.  Hamed Alizadeh did an incredible job of coordinating the projects for CSFilm and produced Women’s Business, airing Friday, February 3rd.  Women’s Business is Ms. Fatima Jafaria’s story of succeeding as an Afghan business woman in the furniture manufacturing industry.  As she describes:

  • Most of the time when I went to meetings clients thought I was a marketer for the company, not the President.  When they learned that I was the owner, they couldn’t trust the quality of our products.  Most of them said they would call me but never did.  A few of them overcame their doubt and gave us orders.  After it was delivered, they couldn’t believe our company produced it.

In terms of the future of her community, Mrs. Jafaria says:

  • A miracle is needed, but I can only hope that our society is transformed.  All of our problems are rooted in the lack of education and literacy.  If people are educated, most misperceptions won’t exist and we will develop a civilized society.


Wahid Zahman, expanded on the short “Knocking on Time’s Door” that he made during the CSFilm training, to create Disarm and Develop, to be aired February 10th.  The viewer experiences a former Mujahedeen’s transformation from warrior to teacher and leader of his Community Development Council (CDC).  The story also profiles the exceptional economic and community development work of the Afghan Government’s National Solidarity Program, the creator of the CDCs.  As Abdul Basir Siddiqi explains in the film, when fighters agreed to disarm they were given opportunities to put their energy to work on the development of their villages:

  • In 2003 when the disarmament program began, I put down my weapon and chose to live a civilian life.  I was really fed up with war.  We’d been fighting for 30 years.  A year later we started building the school. …  Now, installing the windows marks the completion of the school. … It makes me very happy.  It’s a fact that when people share a common goal, solidarity is created.  Before the CDC was created, people were busy with their own business.  But the CDC obliged villagers to meet at least once a week.  CDC meetings encouraged friendship among people.

These two films are part of the 13-part series called Windows into Reality: Documentary Films by Afhan Filmmakers, and was executive produced by the Cetena Group.  They explain:

  • the series covers stories of hardships overcome, old hopes renewed, and touches on the lives of the people taking Afghanistan forward to the next decade.

With your support, we look forward to being right there with our Afghan friends and collaborators into the next decade.

Thanks!
Michael Sheridan
Michael Sheridan, Director
Community Supported Film

Please donate to Community Supported Film

Please support our training and education work.  Audience members have stated repeatedly that watching The Fruit of Our Labor, even after 10 years of media coverage, was the first time they heard Afghan voices and saw more than fleeting views into Afghan life.  We depend on your donations to continue this work.

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Digital Storytelling from Afghanistan – Presentation and Screening at Harvard’s KSG 2/3

“Digital Storytelling from Afghanistan.” Michael Sheridan, Catherine Rielly

Friday February 3, 2012, 2:10PM – 4:00PM, Carr Center Conference Room, HKS, One Eliot St.

Filmmaker Michael Sheridan presents his remarkable story of assisting ten Afghan filmmakers to craft insightful community stories and how these stories have been brought to wide audiences through the work of Community Supported Film.   This session will use The Fruit of Our Labor films to illustrate basic principles of filmmaking and report on the social networking now in progress.

Michael Sheridan, DevCom Mentor since 2001, is an independent producer of film and video with a special interest in international issues of social and economic development in Africa and Asia.  www.sheridanworks.com

Catherine Rielly, a DevCom Executive Producer, is the President of Rubia, a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop economic opportunities through craft heritage, to support education, and to promote health and well-being for Afghan women and their families.

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Peace process can only be successful if it is led by Afghans, says new UN envoy

Afghanistan’s peace process can only be successful if it is Afghan-led and inclusive, the new United Nations envoy to the country stated today.

Ján Kubiš, who arrived in Kabul last week to take up his post as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told his first press conference that the Afghan people are tired of war and want to move on.

“They would like to live normal lives as everywhere else,” he said, adding that there is support for steps that would bring more stability and eventually establish overall peace in the country.

What is important, he stressed, is that the peace process be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. Read More…

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