It can seem strange, and almost provocative, to see the word “hope” associated with “Afghanistan”, a name most often coupled with “war”, “terrorism”, “corruption”, “fallen soldiers”, “failure of the aid effort”, or “the drug trade”. As the withdrawal of the international military approaches, the stalemate over the signing of a Bilateral Security Agreement between the US and Afghanistan continues, precious advances in women’s rights seem under threat, and uncertainty reigns over the outcomes of the upcoming Presidential elections, pessimism about the country’s fate seems to predominate.
So why hope? Because all those who have lived in, or visited, Afghanistan know that there is much more to the country than war; they have all been awed by the warmth, hospitality, joviality, intelligence and resilience of its people. Afghanistan, sometimes called Yaghestan – the “land of insolence”, is also a place where deep friendships are welded, where moments of joy and pain are shared daily, where life keeps on defying the odds. And where there is life, there is hope.
I am happy to announce that my book, Land of Eternal Hope – Ten Years of Lives Shared in Afghanistan, is finally available in English. It was first published in French, in 2011, with the title “Amitiés Afghanes, dix ans de vies partagées” by the Editions Fayard (see amitiesafghanes.wordpress.com). It is now accessible to anglophone readers thanks to the beautiful translation prepared by Philip Hodder and edited by Michael Fitzpatrick. The text has been delightfully laid out by Louis Forget. This edition includes a new epilogue as well as photographs that I have taken over the years and which have been carefully edited by Louis.
The book recounts my memories of working with various organisations in Afghanistan between 2000 – during the Taliban regime – until 2010. More importantly, seven of my Afghan friends, men and women, have generously accepted to share with me, and you, the story of their lives through over thirty years of war. They are related here, using their own words. These friends come from different regions, from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds. Each story is unique, humble, tragic and dignified, just like that of so many others. Yet they are all bound by a common and enduring struggle for the reconstruction of their country. Like you and me, their lives are shaped by joys, fears, and hope, by their love for their family and friends, and their aspiration to, one day, live in peace.
I warmly invite you to meet them, and listen to what they have to say, about their country, about life. You can do so by ordering the book on Blurb, by looking up the following link:
I will also be organising book launches so… watch this space!