Rethink Afghanistan

By Anna Almendrala 6-18-2009

An interview with a man and his children in an Internally Displaced Person (refugee) camp quickly devolves into a father desperately trying to sell his smallest child to the cameraman. "For God's sake, I want to sell this child but nobody wants her. What can I do?... For God's sake, I am poor, otherwise I wouldn't give her for one million. I know nobody wants to sell their daughter, but I have to. She is innocent, but I am poor. I have nothing."

An old woman with amputated feet sits in a small mud hut, surrounded by five doe-eyed, dirty grandchildren. She is wailing about how their parents, her children, were killed in the bombings and now she is tasked with feeding, clothing, and providing water and shelter for these orphans in this camp. "They're hungry, they're thirsty, and I don't know what to do with them ... I ask my God, kill me and put me under the dirt, or change our lives."

Watch the video here:

This is the kind of footage we saw, over and over again, as we cut and shaped the Rethink Afghanistan: Civilian Casualties segment. The first time I saw it, I was shocked. As a taxpayer, I was filled with shame that these Afghans have to choose between living in fear of U.S. airstrikes in rural areas or dying of hunger and cold in urban refugee camps. As a person of faith, my heart broke for the men who constantly fingered their prayer beads as they recalled the loved ones they had lost, and the parents and grandparents who cried out to God on behalf of their children and grandchildren.

To me, there is no work more important and time-sensitive than answering these people's prayers. The little girl in the yellow jacket you see in the video? She's already dead. Her sister in red next to her? She has already been sold. We need to stop trying to fix political problems with military solutions, and we need to recognize that Afghanistan is the third poorest country in the world. Here's how you can take action:

  1. Digg this video. Just one click can help this video land on the Digg homepage, where it can reach tens of thousands of new people. More need to see what the war is like for regular Afghans.
  2. Provide aid through The Afghan Women's Mission to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), which is directly helping the refugees in these camps. We have partnered with these groups, and RAWA will go to the camps in this video to help those most in need. On their Web site, you can provide emergency relief to refugees, enable Afghans to visit the doctor, and help educate women and children to ensure women's rights are respected.
  3. Become a Peacemaker. Receive up-to-the-minute information through our new mobile alert system whenever there are Afghan civilian casualties from this war. Then take immediate action by calling our government and posting on social networking sites.

Anna Almendrala was a Sojourners intern from 2007-2008. She now lives in Los Angeles, California, and works for Brave New Foundation as the Marketing & Distribution associate. Follow her on Twitter to keep updated on the newest campaigns.

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