at a Kunduz women's shura
Today didn’t start out too auspiciously – the wedding celebration ended around 12:30, only to be followed by about 90 minutes of cleaning and rearranging the wedding hall, directly above my bed. Every time I dozed off before 2:30 a loud bang or the shreek of metal scraping on metal would jerk me awake.
After downing a cup of coffee and some nan we headed over to our partner’s office to begin the day with a 3 hour interview for our gender strategy. It was an interesting process since our strategy consultant speaks Urdu and Pashto and the people we were interviewing spoke a mix of Pashto and Dari. She needed translation for the Dari speakers, and I needed it for everyone since no one spoke English. Needless to say it was a frustrating process, especially since my translator was by no means fluent in English.
The rectangular meeting room walls were covered in poster paper the women used to create community appraisals of problems, the roles of men and women in their community, their problem identification lists and embroidery patterns. While we sat on low cushions on the floor and the women talked about their organization kids peaked in through the one window, climing on top of each other to get a look at the kharijee (foreigners). After we left that shura we visited a second one the next village over that was very similar in set-up, wall decorations and issues. Apparently they thought that we had come to solve their problems (i.e. give them money) so I’m afraid our visit was a little disappointing, but it was very interesting. Of course, it would have been more interesting if I had understood what was being said at the time.
Next we visited a conflict resolution program funded by my organization. Many of these women were members of different shuras, but in this project they come together to talk about problem solving within their families and communities. It was great to watch the women, many of whom are illiterate and had little opportunity for schooling in their lives, become animated as they participated in the discussions.