One year later; reflections on Afghanistan

Today, 15th August 2022, marks one year since the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

In the beginning we had a lot of uncertainty about the new political system, and how our artisans and partners in Afghanistan would be impacted if they kept working for us. We had to await the situation to see whether we could keep buying from our partners in Afghanistan. Ultimately, we decided to continue our work in Afghanistan. 

This was decided because we believe that buying crafts from Afghan artisans is more helpful than isolating them by boycotting the country. Thanks to partners like Ziba Foods, Warfair and Wadan operating in Afghanistan, we are able to keep working with some of the most skilled artisans in Afghanistan and supporting their livelihood. 

We asked two Afghans from Østerland’s network about the most pressing issues in the country and how we as an international community can help Afghanistan, as they want it. 

Jaweed Qais

Jaweed is living in Afghanistan and works for an international company named Ziba Foods. He is responsible for all international logistics and business management in Afghanistan for the company. Ziba Foods export dry foods from Afghanistan to Europe and the Americas. 

Q/ What do you think are the most pressing issues in Afghanistan? 

A/ The first one is school for girls. I have four daughters and two of them cannot go to school, which is very difficult for us. The youngest one can because she is in 3rd grade. This is affecting us a lot as a family. 

The fact that women can't work is a huge issue. And the economical situation is very bad. Even though the universities are open, no one has the money to graduate from universities. We will not have any doctors, engineers in the future. How will we survive as a society? 

Q/ What can we do to help Afghans and Afghanistan? 

A/ The current situation in Afghanistan cannot be solved by freezing the assets of the country. It can also not be solved by boycotting trade and not recognising our government. The international community needs to have a dialogue or otherwise we cannot move forwards. 

Doing business with Afghan companies and buying from Afghan artisans are helping people a lot. Because we are in a deep economic crisis. There are many women working for Ziba Foods and some of them are widows, so it's a huge help for them. I also want to say that following the Taliban government, it is now easier to travel to other provinces that were deemed dangerous before. We can go and meet our farmers and Bamiyan (red.tourist monument in Afghanistan) had a lot of visitors this year. But before the Taliban, this was dangerous. 

Manila Ghafouri

Manila is our brand ambassador and the spokesperson of Rapolitics. Manila and her family fled Afghanistan and settled in Denmark when she was 7 years old. Today she is a storyteller and a strong character in the public discussion on equality, representation and Afghanistan. 

Q/ What do you think are the most pressing issues in Afghanistan? 

As a Danish-Afghan, I feel responsible for keeping shedding light on the most pressing issues in Afghanistan. Otherwise it will be forgotten and Afghanistan might be reduced to a conflict-ridden country ruled by Taliban. I feel that's what people are talking about. There isn't room for nuances and other stories where people in Afghanistan want music and education, which is a big part of Afghans everyday life. The day we said yes to the Danish forces entering Afghanistan, we also said yes to power. What is happening in Afghanistan is violating all human rights and I cannot understand how the world can accept it. 

Q/ What can we do to help Afghans and Afghanistan? 

I want us to focus on the good things about Afghanistan. How can we do that? I want to approach this issue from a human level, rather than a political level. I can't influence the political sides of things, I don't have that power.  But let's focus on the beautiful things about Afghans and Afghanistan. Lets focus on the craft they are producing, the nuts and dry foods they are growing. We need to keep telling the Afghan story. Afghanistan is still a country on the world map and a country with amazing people and nature. 

Supporting craftsmanship and the individual artisan in Afghanistan is making a significant difference for their everyday life. We hope that you will continue to support us in our mission to bring beautiful afghan craft to you. Made by hand and made from the heart."