Nadia Ghulam: "The seeds of peace must be nurtured constantly”

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  • Nadia Ghulam, writer and peace activist.
    Nadia Ghulam, writer and peace activist. Source: Nadia Ghulam.

The activist and writer talks about the importance of education as a tool for resolving conflicts in Afghanistan. 

Recent weeks haven’t been easy for Nadia Ghulam. She arrived in Catalonia 15 years ago, where she works as a social educator at Fundesplai, where she also set up the association 'Ponts per la Pau' (Bridges for Peace) in Badalona. Before this, she had lived through the civil war in Afghanistan and had suffered its brutal consequences.

How are you?

When someone asks me how I am, I think they already know the answer. Especially people who know me, because they know how deeply affected I am by these things, since I relive all of my trauma. I am not well; I am very tired and I feel the pain. But for me, not being well is a tool that allows me to move on. Because I know that today, more than ever, my voice and my efforts are more necessary than ever before. People are interested in listening to me, but just like me, there are thousands of women, children and youths whom we don’t give a name and don’t even ask.

What is your opinion about the way the media are dealing with the conflict in Afghanistan?

The media are always biased and portray everything as being black or white, but in Afghanistan there are many shades of colour. Nothing is said of the death of innocent people in the hands of those who are against the Taliban, for instance. These people are like my family, like me. Are voices are not heard when it comes to taking decisions, and yet they are the main victims of the violence between powers. I will never agree with anyone who chooses weapons to solve the conflict.

How do you believe peace can be promoted in a place that has suffered violence for so many years?

If we really regret what is happening in Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan…then we should give their children the opportunity to study in the best schools and go to the best psychologists in the world in countries that live in peace. I know the case of a former member of parliament who was a refugee and, after having studied and seen how a country that is in peace works, returned to Afghanistan with a sensitivity that no other leader has. If we could just educate the children from countries at war this way, it would all end.

It is a life-long job. The seeds of peace must be nurtured constantly.

Why is it so important to welcome women?

Usually, the men of a country with a macho culture that is made worse by so many years of war are the first to escape. It would be great if, for once, it could be the women and their children to come here first to revert history. They are the main promoters of peace and non-violence in situations of crisis.

Why is language so important as a tool for peace?

Languages are enriching. If you are able to speak a language, you are a person. If you are able to speak two languages, you are two persons. Sometimes I am asked: how are you able to do so much? And I answer because I am seven persons. Language helps us not only to communicate, but also to learn the culture of a country, to understand peoples’ reactions. Unfortunately, some say it is not necessary to learn certain languages… let them come to me and ask me why languages are useful.

Do you think it is useful to share news about the conflict in Afghanistan on social media?

Yes, very much so. If it weren’t for this, the country would still be hidden away. Thanks to social media, we have seen certain images in the media that have turned the world’s eyes to Afghanistan. If it weren’t for this, the US Government would have gone unnoticed, but finally people have seen the misery it has brought to my country for so many years. However, there are also other ways of helping. Now that so many refugee children are arriving in Europe we can assist them in a more recreational way, for instance. Having worked as a youth educator, I know that through games they can learn a language and a culture very quickly.

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