#1Pic1Day: Sesudah Perang | Life After War (GBAO, Tajikistan, 2006)

Life After War (GBAO, Tajikistan, 2006) Madam Dudkhuda is a typical town dweller in the Pamir Mountains. She works as bread baker, earning less than US$20 per month, while her geologist husband only earns about US$150 a year. There is no adequate job offered by the government, so most people in the mountainous province become unemployed or underemployed. Recently some NGOs like the Aga Khan Foundation and Acted provided some training programs to the communities, as well as microcredit financial aid, to help the rebuilding of the economy after years of civil war. Sesudah Perang (GBAO, Tajikistan, 2006) Nyonya Dudkhuda adalah seorang warga kota biasa dari Pegunungan Pamir. Dia bekerja sebagai pembuat roti, dengan pendapatan kurang dari US$ 20 per bulan, sementara suaminya yang bekerja sebagai ahli geologis hanya memperoleh US$ 150 per tahun. Kurangnya pekerjaan yang dapat disediakan oleh pemerintah menyebabkan sebagian besar penduduk di provinsi pegunungan ini menjadi pengangguran atau setengah pengangguran. Saat ini beberapa LSM internasional seperti Aga Khan Foundation dan Acted telah menyediakan program pelatihan kepada masyarakat, juga bantuan finansial dengan skema mikrokredit, untuk membantu pembangunan ekonomi pasca tahun-tahun perang [...]

September 25, 2013 // 2 Comments

Karakul – Out of Murghab

A new day, and a new month, starts in Murghab The new month has just started, and I have only 4 days left on my visa. I met these two guys in the bazaar of Murghab, one with visa expiring today (November 1). The guys were from America and Israel, and they have been waiting for onward travel to Kyrgyzstan. They were there in the bazaar yesterday but failed to depart. Today is the second day (and supposed to be the last day) attempt. Murghab is somehow a depressing place to wait for transport. As now the oil price has skyrocketed, one’s a month salary is only enough to cover the distance from Murghab to Osh or to Khorog in a public transport for one time. People don’t travel anywhere. There are many drivers but not passengers. The drivers hang around the bazaar the whole day to get passengers, and except the two travelers, and me, there is nobody else to share the cost. Some drivers even didn’t have petrol for their vehicles. The cost is always calculated in terms of liters of oil, with 3.40 Somoni/liter standard in Murghab. In Langar I even saw a driver asked the passengers [...]

November 1, 2006 // 0 Comments

Murghab – The Dudkhoda’s Family

Boys of Murghab, in front of Tajik banner with the tricolor flag and coat-of-arms, of which important element is a snow mountain “Pamir will be better…. Pamir will be better….” – Dudkhoda My first impression of this 39 year old Tajik man was really not so good. this man tried to hug me and kiss me when I was sleeping next to him under the same blanket on the floor in the Kyrgyz restaurant in alichur packed by the Kyrgyz drivers. He also made me to pay his bills in the restaurant. But later I found that he had story worth to tell. He arranged for me a seat in the Kyrgyz truck, along with him, who returned to his home in Murghab. He was actually a passenger of the truck, not being able to pay the ride with money but offered the drivers a dinner in his hosue in Murghab. I came along with him, sitting along the way to Murghab (100 km) for free. Just near Murghab, there were two military checkpoint. The Kyrgyz drivers failed to do registration and they became easy target of the military man in the small dormitory. “Hey, brother, you should follow the [...]

October 29, 2006 // 0 Comments

Ishkashim – Bodurbekov Family

Alisher (a.k.a Muhammad Bodurbekov) with his cousin “Now you are not guest anymore. You are part of our family. Welcome!” – Muhammad Bodurbekov Since the first minute I arrived in Ishkashim, I was impressed by the hospitality of the people in the Wakhan Valley. I was invited by Muhammad Bodurbekov, 29, to his house in the village. Muhammad, alias Alisher, worked in Dushanbe in Aga Khan’s NGO, MSDSP. He had classes in Khorog and he then had chance to see his family in Ishkashim. He spent a month in the UK for his higher education, and he still maintained his British accent. Alisher was an educated professional and he had so many things to discuss. So before starting, let’s sit on the ‘kurpacha’, the guest welcome matress, which Alisher laid between the pillars of Ali and Muhammad. Sitting on the kurpacha symbolized the acceptance of the welcome gesture from the host. In this house there were Alisher’s father, mother, sister, and some nephews and nieces. Alisher sister was married already but she was staying in her parents’ house. She was married to a man from Shegnon and according to the Shegnon tradition, the first child should be born in the [...]

October 22, 2006 // 0 Comments

Khorog – The Capital of GBAO

Driver is a respected job in Tajikistan, especially in GBAO where most people still struggle of unemployment “Thanks to God, thanks to Aga Khan, for their kindness to us” – Mamadrayonova Khurseda The provincial capital of GBAO, Khorog, is a little town set in a valley surrounded by vertical cliffs of high mountains. It is cool and lazy, and despite of its proximity with Afghanistan, it is quite laid back. The appearance of military still can be felt intensively in the town, thanks to the neighbouring Afghanistan, which is just across the river and notorious for opium export and illegal border crossing. Young soldiers have to patrol every morning along the misty and freezing river. The 1300 km long border with Afghanistan gives much headache to Tajikistan, and its patron – Russia. Russian guards were playing a big role in ‘saving’ the war torn Tajikistan from further deterioration. But as the situation of the country had been stabilized for almost ten years now, the existence of Russian and CIS troops had been much reduced since the previous two years. If you walk along the main street of Khorog, except for the numerous militsia, police, and KGB agents, you will feel [...]

October 19, 2006 // 0 Comments

Krat – The Wakhi People of Krat

Wakhan Corridor is always far and mysterious “Zdravstvui tovarech” – a villager from Krat Freedom is what the Wakhi people are longing for. I never expected my visit to Chapursan, the Wakhi Tajik valley in northern Pakistan, brought me to learn deeper about the life of the same ethnic in Afghanistan side of the valley. In Chapursan, 7 months ago, I stayed in house of Noorkhan, a Wakhi Tajiki from Kil village, where sun doesn’t come at all in winter for 3 months. Who expected, deep in restricted area of Wakhan Corridor, I met friends and relatives of Noorkhan. Faizal-u-Rahman, 29 years old, is a cousin of Alam Jan Dario, a famous man from Zod Khon village in Chapursan, who pioneered tourism in the valley. I met Faizal in in Khandud. He was offering me a hitch on tractor to the village of Krat in Wakhan Valley of Afghanistan. He, together with other people from Chapursan are working for an American NGO, Central Asian Institute, and this moment they are building a school in the village. Chapursan is an area dominated by Wakhi Tajik people, same as in Wakhan Valley, and the Wakhi people follow Ismaili sect of Islam. Only [...]

August 3, 2006 // 2 Comments

Ishkashim – Peeping Into Tajikistan

Welcome to Badakhshan “In Tajikistan they have everything but money. In Afghanistan we have money but nothing else.” – Mehruddin The distance from Faizabad to the eastern town of Ishkashem is merely 160 km, but as anywhere in Badakhshan province, the road is unpaved and dusty. The transport is also difficult and unreliable. I was staying in the house of a journalist-cum-farmer, Mr Jaffar Tayyar, in the outskirt of Faizabad. As customary in Afghanistan, all long distance public transport departs very early in the morning as traveling after dark is dangerous. To reach the bus depot in Faizabad I had to walk from the village of Mr. Tayyar as early as 4 a.m. There is no direct bus to Ishkashim. First one has to get to Baharaq, 42 km or 2 hours from Faizabad. It costs 150 Af. Baharaq is a nondescript little bazaar village. Here the onward transport to Ishkashim might be found. They only depart when there are enough passengers, and as Ishkashim is not a major destination, thus it’s unreliable. Comfortable public hot water shower in Faizabad I was lucky when I arrived there was a passenger bus (4 WD Toyota coach but mistakenly written as “ATOYOT”) [...]

July 28, 2006 // 0 Comments

Bamiyan – The De-Miners

Our job is to clean up the area for your safety, Sir! This is the life of those people, who risk their life, to find mines and unexploded materials around the Great Buddha statues of Bamiyan. They are those in uniform with Farsi letters: Main Paki, and English writing: De-mining. They are the de-miners working in Bamiyan. The encounter the day before with Saboor and Jamil brought me to learn deeper about the life of the de-miners. Achmad Saboor, a Tajik driver from Panjshir, picked me up to see their work around the Buddha hills. In that car I knew Waisuddin, or Wais, a Pashtun man in his thirties, with very strong short body. He was bearded but it seemed that was just trimmed, he also speaks very good English. Wais is among the most important persons in this demining project of Bamiyan Buddha. I was lucky to know him personally. And he was happy that he could practise his English with me. He is the commander of MCPA (Mine Clearance Planning Agency). The previously introduced Achmad Saboor and Jamil, work in other organization: MDC (Mine Dog Center), sometimes also called as MDG (Mine Dog Group). Saboor is the driver [...]

June 21, 2006 // 0 Comments

Bamyan – A Day in Bamyan

A happy day in Bamiyan From a tailor in the second floor of a wooden simple building in the bazaar of Sharh-e-Nao, I heard an interesting story from a man named Ramazan. When I told him where I came from, he said, “ooo Indonesia,” then he named some Indonesian islands: Java, Bali, Roti. He suprised me in two ways. First, it was already surprising that an Afghan in this little village of Central Afghanistan, where some people still thought that Indonesia was somewhere near London. The second thing was Roti. Roti is a small island, with such far flung location even most of Indonesians don’t know whee it is exactly. So how Ramazan knew about Roti? There is an interesting story behind this. In fact he had lived in Roti for fourteen months between 2001 and 2002. Besides Roti, he has been to Jakarta and Bali also, and attempted to get into Australia by risking his life on boat with other 240 fellow refugees, trying to get a new better life in ‘modern’ countries, escaping the rule of Taliban administration. It cost them 5000 Af to get to Karachi, where then they got the boat with ticket price 700$ per [...]

June 20, 2006 // 0 Comments

Bamiyan – Hiding?

Behind all the politeness and sweet promises, who really knows what they are actually thinking about? Early in the morning Hadi told me that suddenly his wife from Kabul had called and that he had to go back to Kabul to do ‘something’ at his house. He used that gesture that he meant his wife did really need him for the nights, as he had not been home for 25 days. I asked for how long he would be there in Kabul, he said for a week or 10 days. Yesterday there was someone from an NGO in Bamiyan offering me to go to the villages of the province after a week. I asked Hadi whether it was OK to stay in his office during the waiting time, he was trying to convince me that the activities of the NGO had nothing to do with my work (how he knew?), but then he said that it was no problem at all. But suddenly early this morning he said that he had to go to Kabul for 10 days, leaving completely his office and locked the news room, which is for me was just an excuse to ask me to leave. [...]

June 19, 2006 // 0 Comments

Bamiyan – Three Years After

Radio Bamiyan In July 2003 I visited the valley of Bamiyan for the first time. Along the way, there were war remnants to remind all visitors that the land was scrapped by the long period of wars. The trip in 2003 was full of horror and mistery, when seeing the skeletons of tanks scattered on the side of dusty and windy roads. Today, almost three years after, I went to Bamiyan again, alone. The public transport, as what it was in three years ago, started very early in the morning from Kabul. The difficulty of travelling from Kabul is that there are too many bus stations, and each bus station only has vehicles to go to a certain destination. Therefore it’s essential to make sure from which station start the vehicle you are going to take. The other difficulty is that the timing, most buses in three years ago would be all departed after 6, so passengers should come around 4 or 5 in the morning. The problem is if the bus station located far from the residential area, then another taxi would be needed, and they might be scarce in dark mornings. Navigating through Afghan’s unforgiving roads, this kind [...]

June 17, 2006 // 0 Comments

Thar Desert – Life of Survival

May 22, 2006 Special thanks to Om Parkash Piragani from Sami Samaj Sujag Sangat and Jamal from Ramsar Otagh It’s a vast, hot, dry, dusty, shady desert area stretching from the corner of Interior Sindh of Pakistan up till Rajasthan and Gujarat over the other side there in India. Water is a main problem here, food is insufficient, and education is luxury. Thar or Tharparkar desert is where about one and half million tribal people, living in more than 800 widespread villages, survives their life, with their cattle, despite all of the hardship. Umerkot is a small, busy town connecting the desert to the interior Pakistan. It’s a vital survival for the people from the deep desert. Umerkot is not a common Pakistani city. It boasts the point of world history as the birth place of the biggest Mughal king, Akbar. And what makes the town special: it has the largest Hindu inhabitants proportion in this Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Most of the people, some claimed seventy percent, are Hindus. If might said, Umerkot is the ‘little India’ of Pakistan. The town has some offices, a bustling bazaar, rows of shops, and decent schools. For the people in the desert, [...]

May 22, 2006 // 1 Comment

Umerkot – A Hindu Family in Umerkot

May 20, 2006 Parkash enjoying morning tea I know Om Parkash from my Malaysian friend, Lam Li. They met for the first time in World Social Forum in Karachi. Om told Lam to come to Umerkot, as it’s a special place in Pakistan, where most of the population are Hindus instead of Muslims and has desert culture. Lam Li couldnt go to Umerkot due to her visa problem, so I ‘replaced’ her instead. When I came to Umerkot, it was around 12 pm on May 8, 2006. I was completely exhausted. When I arrived in Parkash’s office, he was not there. He is working in Sami Samaj Sujag Sangat, a local NGO, and he was out to the ‘field’ so I waited him. I was completely exhausted, that I suspect my hepatitis A came back again. When at last Parkash came I was sleeping on the desk of the director’s room, with my saliva everywhere on the desk. I felt embarassed. He took me immediately to his house. His house is big, there are 52 people living there. The interior resembles a hotel with many rooms in rows surrounding a square ground. Family full of laughters Later I found that [...]

May 20, 2006 // 0 Comments

Umerkot – A Day in Tharpakar

May 17, 2006 Hut in the middle of desert Today is another ‘field’ day for the social workers in Sami Samaj Sujag Sangat NGO in the desert area near the Indian Border, South Pakistan. Today, as the activities of previous weeks, the workers visited the villages (what they called as ‘fields’) in the deep desert of Tharpakar to introduce the new machine-readable ID card (computer sekhnati card) to the people deep in the desert. The people lived so much scattered in the dry desert of Tharpakar, isolated from outside world, uneducated, and unregistered. The NGOs were working hard to make data of how many people to be distributed ID Cards, but it was not an easy work considering the area and the fact that most of these desert people are still nomadic. Today we visited six villages; one village among them was half deserted already, left by the inhabitants to somewhere else greener. The desert was very dry, after years of drought, despite the fact that now was monsoon season, and people kept traveling to find greener and wetter area for their life and their cattle. It was noticeable, that all animals in this yellow dry desert: camels, cows, donkeys, [...]

May 17, 2006 // 3 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Good Bye Noraseri

April 4, 2006 Time to say goodbye The day to leave Noraseri had come. I had spent quite a month here, and I felt it was already my second home. The people, now I prefer to say, the friends, were so deep in my heart. Farman said that Noraseri had been my second home. He might be right. I would like to return back here to meet again the friends in this village. But now I had to leave to continue the journey. The farewell was not easy. I had such a limited time, because Rashid from the NGO had called earlier in the morning, saying that I had to return to Muzaffarabad before one, so I may copy the photos of the project. He was leaving to Islamabad and brought the computer back from the office. The office was going to be emptied. And I had to rush. It was impossible to say farewell to everybody. I started in Doctor Shahab’s house. Together with Junaid and his cousin, Mubasshar, I went to Mubasshar’s house. Mubasshar father was coming a little bit late, after some work in the dispensary. Like Doctor Shahab, Mubasshar family was quite a rich family before [...]

April 4, 2006 // 0 Comments

Kandar – The Land of Fighters

April 3, 2006 Helicopter bringing aids to Harama. Imagine how those angry fighters hijacked the flying copter First, the rumors. The name of Kandar is full of myth, ask every villager of Noraseri, and his face will be filled by fear. Not only villagers from Noraseri, but the fame of Kandar had reached areas as far as Pattika and Muzaffarabad. The people of Kandar had made their popularity around the hills. Kandar, located on the top of the hill just behind, is visible from Noraseri. Seemed as close it was, the real four kilometer distance was somehow an unreachable gap for the villagers from Noraseri. It was the image of Kandar which put down the people of other villages. I have heard the rumor about Kandar for the first time from Rashid who told me how ‘nonsense’ these people were. Rashid said that no NGO was working there, as the NGOs were afraid of Kandari. Kandar, accidentally the name resembled “Kandahar”, one of the most dangerous areas in Afghanistan. It was a joke that Kandar was Kandahar of Kashmir. Once upon a time in history, somewhere in a time dimension after the disaster, there happened a helicopter was hijacked by [...]

April 3, 2006 // 0 Comments

Noraseri – A Story from Basyir’s Family

New home, new hope March 18, 2006 After five consecutive months living in emergency tents, finally, Mr. Basyir had the chance for a celebration: a move to the new shelter. The Danish Muslim Aid, an NGO from Denmark, had provided the family with the building material, and three men from the family worked hard every day to build their new home, the new place to shelter the hopes and dreams remained after everything was devastated by the disaster. Mr. Basyir was a typical example of the suffering victims of the disaster which rocked South Asia on October 8, 2005. The family, once consisted of the parents and ten children, now was smaller. Basyir had had six sons and four daughters. Three died. All boys. And the boys were the youngest in their family. The scars of the tragedy still rooted very deep on Mrs. Basyir. Her youngest boy looked like a Chinese boy, when he was alive. That youngest son was only two years old, and he was not recovered under the rubbles of the house. Mr. Basyir said that his wife cried on the first day she saw me, due to my Oriental face which reminded her to her [...]

March 18, 2006 // 0 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Sea of Tents

Sea of tents March 4, 2006 The city of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, sprawls along two important rivers in Pakistan, Niilam and Jhelam. The two rivers meet in the heart of the city, where the economic activities of the city concentrated. The main road stretched from the north through Chella Bandi area until the ‘Secretariat’ area, of total 4 kms of length. Muzaffarabad is hilly city, the roads are all ‘uupar niche’ (up and down), with several steep cliffs (many were collapsed due to the earthquake 5 months earlier) and ladder provided to pedestratians to up the hill. Was the main landmark and tourist attraction of the city, the historical Red Fort or Lal Qila is now a bunch of red stones. The remains of the fort, walls now not more than 2 metres tall, are still standing on the top of small hill near Chella Bandi. The shops and houses are also still showing the scars of disasters, with orphaned children beggar sleeping on the street, exhausted of waiting alms from the pedestrians. The shop owners are apparently going back to their shops, despite the risk that the shops may collapse at any single possible [...]

March 4, 2006 // 0 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Missed Call

It was a real call, not just mere a ‘missed call’ March 2, 2006 After the major earthquake disaster on October 8 last year, up till now there were already 2,000 big and small aftershocks, of which the people called as ‘missed call’, as the shocks resembles the short vibration of the mobile phone when a missed call comes. I was not shocked by the small earthquakes, as we also live in earthquake area in our homeland. But the people here, covered by the trauma from the disaster, were all running to the street. Still most people chose to live in tents instead of inhabiting the house buildings; no matter how good and untouched the house was, as everybody was still afraid. I was sleeping in my room at that time, when the young boy in the office urged me to run away immediately. It was a missed call anyway. No [...]

March 2, 2006 // 2 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Farewell Party

A lavish farewell party in a ‘hotel’ (aka restaurant) in Muzaffarabad March 1, 2006 The NGO work is almost to an end. It has started since the disaster, and now everybody in the relief team was going to go back to their life. Most of the team members were temporary members, working for 1 month or so, but some like the Gillanis, were here since October last year. As today was a new day of a new month, the members were reducing again. The guys planned to have a farewell party in Muzaffarabad to say good bye to some of leaving members. The transport to go back to the province capital was not easy, and after waiting almost about an hour, we successfully ‘hijacked’ a Suzuki bus. The lunch was in Muzaffarabad Cantonment area, with splendid fried rice, roti, mutton curry, and the pink coloured Kashmiri tea. I really regretted to come very late, that the work is almost to an end. The NGO would be still in the area up till the third week of this month, and there would be still some work to do to make documentation of the shelter homes in Patikha. But for these some [...]

March 1, 2006 // 1 Comment

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